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Old 11-25-2012, 09:24 AM   #21
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It's just an easy step that helps make sure your beer gets off to a good start.
If you say it's easy, I'll believe you for now. See, my local homebrew shop prides itself on providing the perfect ingredients, and perfect amount of fresh, viable yeast. Who am I to question them? Now, I have had to add an extra packet of yeast, despite their claims. And actually that's why I don't have enough yeast to go with the recipe kits I have left on hand. I will keep reading and trying until I eventually comprehend the whole yeast thing!
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:57 AM   #22
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There are tools to calculate the amount of yeast you should have.
Beersmith has it and I think http://yeastcalc.com/ is what some people use.
You can input what your yeast is, the date on the package and it will know what you should have for live yeast to start with.
If you use one of these you will see that sometimes you would need an extra bag to carry all the yeast vials, or you take the one that the brew store gives you and make a starter.
The software will even tell you the size of starter you need.
As for figuring out the whole yeast thing, there is a lot to learn. To start with you can learn the basics of what makes yeast happy, how to figure out the amount you need and how to make a starter on here.
Then you will be ready to read a book like "Yeast the practical guide to beer fermentation" and figure out what you don't know yet.
The main things to know are how much yeast, how to get that many, how to give them the oxygen they need and what sort of temperature they like to do their work in.
After that it's fine tuning.

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Old 11-25-2012, 01:14 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by BobbiLynn View Post
If you say it's easy, I'll believe you for now. See, my local homebrew shop prides itself on providing the perfect ingredients, and perfect amount of fresh, viable yeast. Who am I to question them? Now, I have had to add an extra packet of yeast, despite their claims. And act
If it's liquid do you come out with multiple tubes/smack packs of yeast? If not then they're NOT providing yo with the "perfect amount of fresh viable yeast" in most cases a single tube/smack pack is NOT enough yeast for a good healthy fermentation, hence the need to make a starter.


The biggest reason I suggest folks make a starter is if you make one you'll have peace of mind. It's especially important if you have questionable situation happenning with your yeast, like not being sure the yeast arrived healthy.

And you won't be starting an "is my yeast dead" thread in a couple of days.

Making a starter first insures that your yeast is still alive and viable before you dump it in your beer. You will be less likely to start one of those "is my yeast dead?" threads that are on here every day.

You will also ensure that you have enough yeast usually the tubes and smack packs are a lot less yeast that you really should use for healthy fermentation.

Making a starter also usually means your beer will take off sooner, because the first thing that the little buggers do in the presence of wort (whether in a flask or in a fermenter) is have an orgy to reproduce enough cells to do the job...So it won't take such a long time in the fermenter since they started doing it in the flask.

Additionally it is better for the yeast to consume and reproduce incrementally rather than just dumping them into the fermenter...The yeast will be less stressed out than if you just dump them in.

Stressed out yeast can lead to a lot of off flavors...maybe even (though rare) the dreaded autolysis....Or the curse of 1.030....getting a stuck fermentation because the yeast have bit the dust.

So making a starter proves your yeast is still healthy, allows you to grow enough yeast to do the job, cuts down on lag time, and ensures that you will not get off flavors or stuck ferementations from stressed out yeast.

Also has to do with the actual pitch rates of the smack packs and tubes, and has to do with the data that Jamil Z has on his mr malty website.

I'll quote some of it, but really you should look at the stuff there;

Mrmalty.com

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Ales & Lagers

The general consensus on pitching rates is that you want to pitch around 1 million cells of viable yeast, for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato. A little less for an ale, a little more for a lager. George Fix states about 1.5 million for a lager and 0.75 million for an ale in his book, An Analysis of Brewing Techniques. Other literature cites a slightly higher amount. I'm going with Fix's numbers and that is what the pitching calculator uses.
The Math

If you're curious, here is the simple math to calculate the number of cells needed. For an ale, you want to pitch around 0.75 million cells of viable yeast (0.75 million for an ale, 1.5 million for a lager), for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato.

(0.75 million) X (milliliters of wort) X (degrees Plato of the wort)

* There is about 3785 milliliters in a gallon. There are about 20,000 milliliters in 5.25 gallons.

* A degree Plato is about 1.004 of original gravity. Just divide the OG by 4 to get Plato (e.g., 1.048 is 12 degrees Plato).

So, for a 1.048 wort pitching into 5.25 gallons you need about 180 billion cells.

(750,000) X (20,000) X (12) = 180,000,000,000

As an easy to remember rough estimate, you need about 15 billion cells for each degree Plato or about 4 billion cells for each point of OG when pitching into a little over 5 gallons of wort. If you want a quick way of doing a back of the envelope estimate, that is really close to 0.75 billion cells for each point of gravity per gallon of wort. Double that to 1.5 billion for a lager.
Pitching From Tubes, Packs, or Dry Yeast

Both White Labs and Wyeast make fantastic products and you can't go wrong with either one. There are differences between their strains and each brand has pluses and minuses yet neither is better than the other across the board. Use the brand your local homebrew shop carries, if you need a way to decide.

A White Labs tube has between 70 and 120 billion cells of 100% viable yeast, depending on the yeast strain. Some cells are much larger than others and there are more or less per ml based on size. (The information on the White Labs web site stating 30 to 50 billion cells is out of date.) We can just assume there are around 100 billion very healthy yeast. You would need 2 tubes if you were pitching directly into 5.5 gallons of 1.048 wort to get the proper cell counts.

A Wyeast Activator pack (the really big ones) and the pitchable tubes have an average of 100 billion cells of 100% viable yeast. The smaller packs are around 15-18 billion cells. You would need 2 of the large packs if you were pitching directly into 5.5 gallons of 1.048 wort to get the proper cell counts. For the small packs, you'd need eleven of them!

But to make it easier he has a great pitch rate calculator Mrmalty.com

And according to his numbers on his calculator, really any beer above 1.020, you should be making a starter for.

Me personally when I use liquid yeast I just make a starter. I may not be as anal as some brewers and makes sure that I have the exact cellcount for whatever gravity beer I am making, but I do make one for the above reasons I mentioned, namely peace of mid, and a reduction in lag time.

Seriously, that's one way to insure you have clean tasting beer, not to stress out or underpitch your yeast. You may find the "bothering" to make a starter will make even the less than best kit beer come out tasting great.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:01 AM   #24
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I just kegged the beer I made with the Kellerweis yeast. It's amazing! Possibly my favorite homebrew now. It came out a bit sweeter than I expected, probably because I have chronic hops utilization problems due to something in my system. But I'm not used to wheat beers, so it's probably normal. Makes a great dessert beer. I got a significant amount of clove flavor with banana still present, which is a bit different than the Kellerweis which I don't remember having much clove flavor.

My LHBS wheat LME was a bit darker than I expected. I boiled an ounce of Hallertau in plain water for 30 minutes then added the LME and boiled it together for another 15 minutes or so, cooled all the way down to 20C and pitched about a liter of my starter along with all the yeast slurry. I fermented in my keezmentation chamber fairly cool, same as all my ales at around 16-18C. The yeast was very aggressive and I thought I was going to have a boil-over (I never use a blowoff tube or anything because I've never had to when making 5 gallon batches in my 7 gallon carboy).

Not bad for free yeast!

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Old 12-12-2012, 03:28 AM   #25
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If you say it's easy, I'll believe you for now. See, my local homebrew shop prides itself on providing the perfect ingredients, and perfect amount of fresh, viable yeast. Who am I to question them? Now, I have had to add an extra packet of yeast, despite their claims. And actually that's why I don't have enough yeast to go with the recipe kits I have left on hand. I will keep reading and trying until I eventually comprehend the whole yeast thing!
http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/Brew-Strong/Brew-Strong-12-22-08-Yeast-Starters

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/492

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/543
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:05 AM   #26
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I forgot to mention, that I actually got pretty poor attentuation with my harvested yeast...I started around 1.048 and ended around 1.015. This might be why it ended up a tad sweet.

I have heard that with some yeasts, attenuation goes up with reuse. If I wasn't a total idiot, I would have saved some of the yeast from the batch. I somehow forgot that I can't just go out and buy more of this stuff, and the only way is to culture more of it. Sigh.

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Old 12-12-2012, 12:23 PM   #27
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This may be a little off topic but this is an article that explains pretty well the harvesting of yeast from an unfiltered beer (An amazing one, I might add) and how the brewer stepped it up and such to get it pitchable.

http://www.bear-flavored.com/2012/09/culturing-conan-aka-alchemists-heady.html

sidenote: Heady Topper is easily one of the best DIPA I have had the pleasure of tasting. I am planning on harvesting and farming the yeast from this beer with the next 4-pack I get... it apparently has super high attenuation and is perfectly suited for higher ABV ales! I'm getting too excited... must leave thread!

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