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Old 07-31-2009, 04:01 PM   #1
Judochop
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Default Simple Starter Strategy

This starter business is about to send me off the cliff.

What I’m trying to do is develop a very simple but safe algorithm for determining the size of my yeast starters. I know Mr. Malty has everything I need, but honestly, he kind of freaks me out with all those specifics. It’s everything and more and then some. What I’m looking for are generals that will get the job done, but done well.

So, after multiple days of agonizing research, this is what I’ve come up with (for brewing ales):

For OGs <1.050, use 3 oz DME in 1 quart.
For OGs 1.051 - 1.075, use 6 oz DME in 2 quarts.
For OGs 1.075 -1.090, do a 2-step starter from 1 quart up to 4 quarts.
For HUGE beers (>1.090), I’ll plan ahead and brew a smaller batch w/ an appropriate yeast first from which I can collect 200-300 mLs of relatively liquidy slurry.

Would the above garner a few sincere blessings from the experts? Could some of the windows use an adjustment?

Please. I want to formulate a system that is easy to grasp, minimizes my effort, and WORKS, so I can set it in stone and forget about starter worries for all time to come. I’m sure there are others like me and this is for their peace as well.

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Old 08-01-2009, 06:14 AM   #2
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The algorithm Mr.Malty uses is in his 'essential questions about starters' -- quite honestly, it's really simple. I forgot it myself, but then again I wasn't trying to remember it.

Where the calculator gets tricky is predicting the yeast viability - which is super important.

If you haven't already read his essential questions article, I would suggest it. Then the MrMalty Calculator will be your friend.

You + MrMalty Calculator = Healthy Yeast = Great Beer = Happy Life

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Old 08-01-2009, 12:52 PM   #3
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I'm sure your method will work, but I don't think the Mr. Malty calculator is complicated. One of the inherent problems I see in your system is the cut-off points. You could brew a 1.050 beer and make a 1 qt starter, then another time brew a 1.052 beer with a 2 quart starter. That's a big difference in starter size for little difference in gravity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevorino View Post
Where the calculator gets tricky is predicting the yeast viability - which is super important.
This is where, to me, his calculations lose their accuracy. Yeast viability is dependent on too many things to accurately quantify. His calculation makes assumptions about how the yeast was transported/stored (temp.) and probably even yeast strain, i.e., individual strains may have more "durability".

Undoubtedly, storage temperatures (including transport) are the most important. It's like milk. Most milk will not sour until a few days (sometimes up to a week) after the expiration date. If the milk was transported and stored in ideal conditions, the milk could last as long as 7 days after expiration date before souring. If the temperature fluctuated, the milk will sour quicker. It's a similar concept for yeast viability.

However, I don't mean to be too critical of his Jamil's calculator. He had to figure someway to quantify viability, so it's not a bad thing. I just think some of the starter volumes and numbers of vials of yeast should be taken with a grain of salt and they could be reduced if you think the yeast was stored well.
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Old 08-01-2009, 01:50 PM   #4
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Relax man. I was once freaked out about starters but they couldn't be any easier.

For each quart I simply do 1/4# DME. If I'm building up I'll just top off with more wort.

Some people say have the starter gravity mimic that of your wort, some say do 1.030 - 1.040. Some people say decant the wort before pitch, others just see that as less wort you need in your boil.

For a 1.054 APA I did a 2qt starter (I was expecting a higher efficiency), I was at FG in 48 hours without even coming close to the higher end of the temp range.

RDWHAHB

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Old 08-01-2009, 02:05 PM   #5
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I use this bad boy... in combination with Mr. Malty to determine my starter OG and size:

Homebrew Starter Wort Calculator

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Old 08-02-2009, 03:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judochop View Post
So, after multiple days of agonizing research, this is what I’ve come up with (for brewing ales):

For OGs <1.050, use 3 oz DME in 1 quart.
For OGs 1.051 - 1.075, use 6 oz DME in 2 quarts.
For OGs 1.075 -1.090, do a 2-step starter from 1 quart up to 4 quarts.
For HUGE beers (>1.090), I’ll plan ahead and brew a smaller batch w/ an appropriate yeast first from which I can collect 200-300 mLs of relatively liquidy slurry.

Would the above garner a few sincere blessings from the experts? Could some of the windows use an adjustment?
Assuming we are talking 5 gallons here, and no stir plate, I would skip the "step up" for 1.075-.90 and just do a 1 gallon starter. Adding a stir plate would make the starter size needed quite a bit smaller as well.
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judochop View Post
This starter business is about to send me off the cliff.
Once you stop listening to all the 'scientist' it becomes much easier.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundowner View Post
Once you stop listening to all the 'scientist' it becomes much easier.
It's hard to not listen to all of the scientists. But it seems that if you just "Do It", everything will turn out fine.
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The yeast is just laying back and having a cigarette after a short rabbit-style shag. Let them cuddle for a week before you do anything at all.
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