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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > First Starters, Numbers Check Please
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:35 PM   #1
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Default First Starters, Numbers Check Please

Budget is tight until payday. Wanted to buy a full set of four 2L erlenmeyers with foam stoppers, but the funding just wasn't there for it. Ended up with four 2L pitchers from the pit of Hell (Wally World) for $2 each. They're the best I can do for right now. Was seriously considering 2L soda bottles. :\



Just made up a 1.5L starter for both 1056 and 1214 for this coming weekend. Will be making a 1968 starter once the yeast arrives this afternoon. And will be rehydrating some US-05 on brew day. It's going to be a busy weekend!

Still won't hit my MrMalty numbers without decanting, but I'm closer. I think. Does this look better?

Chocolate Covered BEAVR Nuts - 1.070 OG - Safale US-05 - 12/09/12 (est) - rehydrate. Need 253m. Estimated 250 million in the dry package. So just rehydrate and pitch, right?

Oatmeal Stout - 1.049 OG - Wyeast 1056 - 11/20/12 - shaking. Need 180m. Minimum 1 pack with 1.61L starter. I should be good to go then, right?

White House Honey Porter - 1.054 OG - Wyeast 1968 - 12/09/12 (est) - shaking. Need 198m. Minimum 1 pack with 1.56L starter. Good to go, also?

Fat and Tired - 1.050 OG - Wyeast 1214 - 11/01/12 - shaking. Need 198m. Going to need 2 packs with 1L starter because it's so old (grrr, I just bought this one last week!). Can I decant this one, or will I need to go buy a second pack?

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Old 01-09-2013, 09:50 PM   #2
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Your numbers and plans look mostly ok. Is the US-05 a 5 gram pack? I'd be inclined to use 2 if it's a 5 gram pack (and MrMalty thinks you should use 3).

Regarding the old yeast, some people believe (with reasonable but not conclusive evidence) that MrMalty may be rather conservative on its yeast aging. The claim is that liquid yeasts, properly refrigerated, hold up quite a bit better. In that case, you could just give it a shot with a 2L (or as close as you're comfortable getting) starter with a single vial.

If you want to be sure, you could also do a stepped starter. you probably have time to start it today, ferment 24 hours, crash and decant, and then do the second step. Those pitchers look less than ideal for decanting, though---an erlenmeyer flask or cider jug is nice because it has the neck to hold more of the yeast back while you decant. But you could give it a shot.

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Old 01-09-2013, 09:58 PM   #3
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Your numbers and plans look mostly ok. Is the US-05 a 5 gram pack? I'd be inclined to use 2 if it's a 5 gram pack (and MrMalty thinks you should use 3).
Hmmm. I don't know what size it is. I asked somebody to pick it up for me on the way home. Should I assume it's 5 gram and ask them to buy a second, or chance it?

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Regarding the old yeast, some people believe (with reasonable but not conclusive evidence) that MrMalty may be rather conservative on its yeast aging. The claim is that liquid yeasts, properly refrigerated, hold up quite a bit better. In that case, you could just give it a shot with a 2L (or as close as you're comfortable getting) starter with a single vial.
The 1.5L is about is close as I feel getting... but that's because I'm uninformed. Here's a picture at 1.5L.



If you think I have the headspace to squeeze it closer towards 1.75L, I'll try it.

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If you want to be sure, you could also do a stepped starter. you probably have time to start it today, ferment 24 hours, crash and decant, and then do the second step. Those pitchers look less than ideal for decanting, though---an erlenmeyer flask or cider jug is nice because it has the neck to hold more of the yeast back while you decant. But you could give it a shot.
Agreed. It was a tradeoff. This one gives me more headspace for krausen. And it was $2, so... worst case, I end up buying flasks eventually and using these to take juice to work.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:33 PM   #4
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Love the labels.

That looks like about as far as I'd fill them also. Careful when you do the shaking, mine tend to erupt when CO2 comes out of suspension---a gentle swirl sometimes raises 3 inches of foam that can't be reasoned with or stopped.

I would always ask for an extra packet of dry yeast. It's something handy to have around in case you do something like spill or contaminate a starter before pitching and need to salvage a batch. But with dry yeasts, I've never bothered with MrMalty. I use either the packet instructions or the data sheets from the manufacturer to figure out their recommended pitch rates, and when uncertain, I err on the generous side. It's worked so far, but I'm still pretty new at this. For 1.05ish beers, I think I've usually used one packet of US-05, but I barely remember. I'll see if I have notes at home. I know I've always used 2x11.5 gram packs of Nottingham, which is more than a lot of people use but is what they recommend.

By the way, this is all getting pretty picky about pitch rates---they're important, but for recreational purposes, extreme precision isn't necessary. I like to get obsessive for the challenge, but if you don't feel like going to all this trouble, I think you're going to be in the realm of close enough with a 1.5 L starter and one vial for all of those---I'd bet even the older one would work. I'm sort of going for "perfect" here. The dry yeast should be fine with a single packet as well, though it's so easy to toss in the second packet...

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Old 01-10-2013, 12:02 AM   #5
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Love the labels.

That looks like about as far as I'd fill them also. Careful when you do the shaking, mine tend to erupt when CO2 comes out of suspension---a gentle swirl sometimes raises 3 inches of foam that can't be reasoned with or stopped.
Just shook the 1056. Yeah, it blew the top off in my hand after one shake despite some serious force. I've taken to swirling with the lid open, as swirling with the lid closed builds pressure fast.

The 1214 isn't taking off nearly as fast.

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I would always ask for an extra packet of dry yeast. It's something handy to have around in case you do something like spill or contaminate a starter before pitching and need to salvage a batch. But with dry yeasts, I've never bothered with MrMalty. I use either the packet instructions or the data sheets from the manufacturer to figure out their recommended pitch rates, and when uncertain, I err on the generous side. It's worked so far, but I'm still pretty new at this. For 1.05ish beers, I think I've usually used one packet of US-05, but I barely remember. I'll see if I have notes at home. I know I've always used 2x11.5 gram packs of Nottingham, which is more than a lot of people use but is what they recommend.

By the way, this is all getting pretty picky about pitch rates---they're important, but for recreational purposes, extreme precision isn't necessary. I like to get obsessive for the challenge, but if you don't feel like going to all this trouble, I think you're going to be in the realm of close enough with a 1.5 L starter and one vial for all of those---I'd bet even the older one would work. I'm sort of going for "perfect" here. The dry yeast should be fine with a single packet as well, though it's so easy to toss in the second packet...
Understood. I do have a spare packet of Notty in the fridge, just for that. I made sure to pick a backup yeast that I wasn't crazy about to hopefully make me think twice before doing something dumb enough to need it.

I was hoping somebody would come along and say "a 2L starter in a 5 gallon batch of enough for anything under ____ gravity" as long as the yeast isn't more than, say, 2 months old. So, this is reassuring to hear.

I'll pitch a second 5g or instead a 11.5g packet of the dry on the high gravity porter, but otherwise probably just call 1.5L starters good enough for most of the rest.

Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:47 AM   #6
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Having just bought an erlenmeyer flask after using whatever I had on hand for many years, I'd say you should go and get one. It really made making the starter easier, and it's hard to say why.

I guess I don't understand how you have enough equipment to make 4 different beers at once but you can't afford the flasks?

In any case, don't sweat the exact numbers. As long as you don't severely under pitch, you'll be OK. Remember, the yeast multiplies in the wort rather quickly. Yeast are like rabbits, except they do it solo.

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Old 01-10-2013, 02:13 AM   #7
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I was hoping somebody would come along and say "a 2L starter in a 5 gallon batch of enough for anything under ____ gravity" as long as the yeast isn't more than, say, 2 months old. So, this is reassuring to hear.
Well, I'm not experienced enough to make proclamations quite that authoritative (and specific), but it's clear from this forum that a large fraction of liquid yeast users just pitch a 1-2 L starter for pretty strong ales. Quite a few just toss a vial into a medium-strength beer and get away with it, though that's not really recommended. Exactly where the OG thresholds are, well, your guesses are as good as mine, but I generally think of something like < 1.04 as small, > 1.07 or 1.08 as big, and medium in between.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:16 AM   #8
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Having just bought an erlenmeyer flask after using whatever I had on hand for many years, I'd say you should go and get one. It really made making the starter easier, and it's hard to say why.

I guess I don't understand how you have enough equipment to make 4 different beers at once but you can't afford the flasks?

In any case, don't sweat the exact numbers. As long as you don't severely under pitch, you'll be OK. Remember, the yeast multiplies in the wort rather quickly. Yeast are like rabbits, except they do it solo.
I'll probably go with two 2L, two 3L, and two stir plates when I get there.

As to why I can't afford them right now, well, that's fairly simple. I bought everything I needed to start kegging this paycheck. Payday comes again soon, have no worries.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:21 AM   #9
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Well, I'm not experienced enough to make proclamations quite that authoritative (and specific), but it's clear from this forum that a large fraction of liquid yeast users just pitch a 1-2 L starter for pretty strong ales. Quite a few just toss a vial into a medium-strength beer and get away with it, though that's not really recommended. Exactly where the OG thresholds are, well, your guesses are as good as mine, but I generally think of something like < 1.04 as small, > 1.07 or 1.08 as big, and medium in between.
Seems reasonable.

Precision of this magnitude probably isn't necessary to make good beer; only to make great beer, or to make it the same twice.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:02 AM   #10
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Default Low FG... why is it possible?

Brewed up a NB Cream Ale extract kit on 01/12. Reading at pitching was 11.2 Brix (1.045) using a refractometer with ATC. Recipe called out 1.040 OG. Left well enough alone, RDWHAHB'd, aerated the hell out of it (to 6" of froth with a paint mixer), pitched a 1.5L starter of 1056 and it went off like a rocket.

Just checked gravity. Coming it at 5.3 Brix. MoreBeer spreadsheet shows that as 1.008 corrected. Search results show other brewers finishing at ~1.018.

Coming in 5 points high on the OG did not prepare me to be 10 points low on the FG. Is it because I started with a denser OG that I had a higher density of fermentables, so now I have a higher ratio of alcohol to water and dissolved solids?

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