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Old 02-11-2006, 10:43 PM   #1
Hopsnort
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Default Starter? We don't need no stinkin' starter!

Newbie here,

I visit a few homebrewing forums quite often, and one of the biggest complaints I read about is long lag times and supposedly "bad" yeast.

In ten years of homebrewing - first Wyeast smacks, now exclusively White Labs tubes - We've never done a starter and have never had a batch not ferment properly (cross myself three times and knock on wood).


But we always...

- Slowly bring the yeast vial to room temp. about 8 hours before pitching.
- Pitch when the wort is 72 - 75 degrees.
- Primary vessel is a 6 gallon carboy for a 5 gallon batch - lots of "aeration room".
- Aeration accomplished by vigorously rocking the carboy for 4 to 5 minutes.


Important note: We don't do high gravity brews. 3.5% to 5% is the norm.


FWIW,
Hopsnort

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Old 02-11-2006, 11:47 PM   #2
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How do you find the White Labs compares with the Wyeast. I found Wyeast to be somewhat inconsistent, but my limited experience with White Labs (which I tried because of advice on this forum) has been 100% predictable. I suspect the problems with Wyeast were because of improper handling between Wyeast and brew day.

Being cheap, I always make a starter. I have had some samples that just wouldn't start, and I didn't lose a brew or have to resort to dry yeast. I just lost a few pennies on the cost of the starter, and the homebrew shop either refunded the cost of the yeast or replaced it.

I usually divide the original yeast into 2, then build up the volume for a week, and do two brews one week apart. I also use the yeast from each of the primaries to get a total of four brews out of each packet or tube.

-a.

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Old 02-12-2006, 12:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopsnort
Newbie here,

I visit a few homebrewing forums quite often, and one of the biggest complaints I read about is long lag times and supposedly "bad" yeast.

In ten years of homebrewing - first Wyeast smacks, now exclusively White Labs tubes - We've never done a starter and have never had a batch not ferment properly (cross myself three times and knock on wood).


But we always...

- Slowly bring the yeast vial to room temp. about 8 hours before pitching.
- Pitch when the wort is 72 - 75 degrees.
- Primary vessel is a 6 gallon carboy for a 5 gallon batch - lots of "aeration room".
- Aeration accomplished by vigorously rocking the carboy for 4 to 5 minutes.


Important note: We don't do high gravity brews. 3.5% to 5% is the norm.


FWIW,
Hopsnort
Sure, it works. I've never had one not ferment, either. But, you're doing your yeast and beer a favor by pitching a greater amount. The easiest way to that is by making a starter.

What are your average lag times?

BTW....welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-12-2006, 02:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam75

What are your average lag times?

BTW....welcome to the forum!
10 - 12 hours. It's the dead of winter here and the Wifey has a problem with fermenters in the office, pantry, or the dining room (don't ask, long story - it already cost me a new range...), so the temperature does start at 72 but ends up in the 65 range after a couple of days. I still believe that cooler fermentation temps result in less off/house flavors, especially when combined with a cool secondary. I stick to the lower end of the advised fermentation temps.

As long as the "yeastie-beasties" are happy, so am I!!! Brewing, in my realm, has gotta be simplistic, uncomplicated, and enjoyable. The mini-mash/extract method has resulted in some very quaffable pints.


***Cue the brewing music***


Pitching a starter from the previous secondary can "Go Krakatoa" in a matter of 3 -4 hours though.

Also a big White Labs fan. Nothing else being considered anymore.



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Old 02-12-2006, 03:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopsnort
In ten years of homebrewing - first Wyeast smacks, now exclusively White Labs tubes - We've never done a starter and have never had a batch not ferment properly (cross myself three times and knock on wood).
Hopsnort
Looks like you want to pick a fight here

Joking aside,
sure it works without a starter. Nobody ever said it doesn't.

But I need starter when I brew. The only beers for which I wouldn't make a starter are Hefe Weizens where I'm interested in stressing the yeast so they create the esters that I'm after.

The other extreme however, are lagers. There it is essential to make starter for any gravity you brew. Especially if you want to be able to pitch at fermentation temperature. This is recommended in order to further lower the ester production in these beers.

I also make starter because I culture one WYeast smack pack for up to 5 times by keeping some yeast in the fridge. And I'm working on building myself a stir plate with aeration so I can easily propagate yeast for the recommended pitching rate of 4ml/L for Lagers (according to Noonan).

Welcome to the forum.

Kai
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Old 02-12-2006, 03:20 AM   #6
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My understanding is that yeast will work up to a certain concentration, and then it can't really reproduce/metabolize effectively after that. So I wonder how long it takes to reach that point? What I'm saying is, given that the stuff reproduces exponentially, I bet there's the same amount of yeast in everybody's brew after 24 hours no matter what the original amount was.

Just a thought.

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Old 02-12-2006, 03:38 AM   #7
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Good post Kai!!!

Using a starter is definately not something you HAVE to do, as pitching a WL tube or WY slap pack will do the job for you. They have a good amount of viable yeast, and will give you a decent ferment. You will have lag times, but it will still work fine.

Yes the "but" is coming... But...the best reason for using a starter is to multiply your yeast count, ensuring a more active and more complete ferment.

People always upgrade their equipment, change recipes, buy high dollar grains, hops and adjuncts, and build complex brew systems, buying conicals and so on and so on... No problem there, wish I had much of it mysef. But so many times, the main part of brewing is ignored...fermentation. Fermentation is one area that is very important, and needs the highest attention paid to it. To get a clean, thorough ferment will help cut down time in primaries and beer left on trub, and help get your brew away from long lag times where many problems can happen.

I use WL yeast exclusively, but only because its easy to pitch for starters. But WYeast is just as good!

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Old 02-12-2006, 04:16 AM   #8
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Did any of you listen to the Brewing Network show a couple of weeks back? They had Chris White of White Labs on. Good show with A Lot of yeast info. Including unless you're making a 2+ liter starter all you are doing is waking the yeast up, certainly will speed up the lag time, but it won't increase you cell count. Good show, check it out if you missed it.

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Old 02-12-2006, 06:45 AM   #9
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How do you download them? I'm on Podcast.com, but all I see is play. I

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Old 02-12-2006, 06:48 AM   #10
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How do you download them? I'm on Podcast.com, but all I see is play. I'm listening to the one of them right now, but I'd love to be able to carry them with me. Does it cost?

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