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Old 01-02-2010, 09:35 PM   #1
fotomatt1
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Default First time making a starter....

I'm going to make a starter for my next brew which will most likely be a lager. I've never made a starter before but have been told that it makes a huge difference in taste. I was going to buy this kit from Northern Brewer:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewin...tarter-kit.htm

A couple of people told me that a 1L flask is pretty much useless. Do I even need a kit for making a starter? I'd appreciate any help with this process. What do I need to make a starter, and what is the procedure? Also, should I continue to use the Wyeast Activator packs when making a starter? If so, should I even smack it ahead of time, or don't worry about the nutrient pack inside. Thanks in advance for everybody's help!

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Old 01-02-2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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This is probably the best resource on starters out there.
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:25 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by danielinva View Post
This is probably the best resource on starters out there.
+1

I'm an Ale guy, and have a one liter flask. For bigger beers, I have to step mine, as its too small. I understand lagers require bigger starters (see the link and make sure to change to "lager" on the settings) so I think a 2L would be preferred.
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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So how accurate is that pitching rate calculator? Should I take those numbers very literally? It says I'd need 1.13 L of starter if I use a stir plate to make it. After you make your starter, do you just measure out 1.13 L of starter from that and throw the excess away?

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Old 01-02-2010, 10:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by fotomatt1 View Post
So how accurate is that pitching rate calculator? Should I take those numbers very literally? It says I'd need 1.13 L of starter if I use a stir plate to make it. After you make your starter, do you just measure out 1.13 L of starter from that and throw the excess away?
My understanding is that is the MINIMUM yeast recommended - if you are a bit higher thats usually OK. Over-pitching is much less common then underpitching. Over-pitching might cost you some characteristics you want in some styles (think Belgians), but more common is excessive unwanted tastes from strained yeast.

for a 1.13L recommended starter size (make sure you set the calc to "lager" if you are doing one) I'd probably put 1.5 liters in a 2L flask and run the stir plate. And then I'd pitch the whole works. But I've under-pitched consistently until a couple months ago.
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Old 01-02-2010, 11:31 PM   #6
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the 1.13 L recommendation was for a lager. So once I make the wort with DME, add 1.5L to an erlenmeyer flask and add the suggested amount of yeast? How long do I run the stir plate for? Constantly until I'm ready to pitch?

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Old 01-02-2010, 11:49 PM   #7
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A krausen will rise and fall in the starter just like in your beer. If you get your starter going before the brew day you can just take it off the stir plate when the krausen falls, refrigerate to get the yeast to fall out of suspension, and then on brew day decant the beer and pitch just the yeast. If you make your starter the day you are brewing you should try to pitch at high krausen.

Also, are you planning on making your starter and then putting it into the flask, because you might be able to get away with making it in the flask. Not sure how close that would put you to a boil-over though.

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Old 01-03-2010, 12:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fotomatt1 View Post
the 1.13 L recommendation was for a lager. So once I make the wort with DME, add 1.5L to an erlenmeyer flask and add the suggested amount of yeast? How long do I run the stir plate for? Constantly until I'm ready to pitch?
If the starter is rocking along at high krausen when you are ready to pitch, take it off the stirplate and pitch...otherwise you can let it finish attenuating, and chill to settle the yeast. Decant and pitch on brew day.

What is the OG of your (intended) beer?
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:42 AM   #9
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Not to muddle things too much, but BYO just did an experiment comparing yeast pitching rates and found the only thing it really seemed to affect was lag time. F.G. was essentially the same despite pitch rate. I believe this was only done on ales, though. Of course, by no means was this a double blind RCT. Just throwing this out there. Beer is smart.

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Old 01-03-2010, 02:20 AM   #10
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Look everything about this pitching rate stuff is unneccessary. I love the 1 L E. Flasks. Making a starter is a good idea for all batches, but its not something you need to stress over. This is what I usually do : I fill the 1 L flask to the 400ml mark and then add about a half a cup of DME. Put it on the stove and then boil it for about ten min. It will prob foam so just a easy boil (and add a pellet of hops if you have them, it will reduce foam and help with anti-infection properties) have some foil sanitized or put the foil over the mouth of the flask forming a dome shape while you boil. This will suffice for sanitizing it. Then cool the flask in a ice water bath. (the glass wont break from heat shock). and get this solution in the flask to the temp you plan on fermenting your beer at. Put the yeast in the starter, and yes you should have smacked the inner packet no more than 24hrs before you put the yeast to the starter. It is best to grow the starter at the temp you will ferment at. When your ready to pitch the yeast to your batch first notice if the yeast has settled, if it has then decant the now made beer to the drain. If the yeast is still all in suspension, then either A: cool the starter to around 35-40 degrees and wait untill the yeast drop, then decant. Or method B: Swirl the starter and pour it all in! I use method B because my method uses minimal water and it will only be about 500ml you add to your beer (which is nothing to worry about). I won't ramble on anymore, but this method is quickest and most sanitary for myself. The only thing to watch for with the 1l E. Flasks are krausen overflows. just dont add to much sugar to too large of a yeast army, but for 1st time starters from the smack packs you wont have to worry about this. Tyler.

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