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Old 03-29-2011, 06:07 PM   #1
Kord78
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Default Help Understanding Yeast Starters

Background: I have brewing now for about 2 years; made the switch over to all grain about 6 months ago.

I have done some reading, though it has been a while now so I should go back and reread, but I seem to recall that making larger starter batches for bigger beers should utilize the same stuffs that will be going into the beer. Doing this will make it so that the yeasties are acclimated to the conditions that you will be pitchign them into and thus they will not need to change their structural make-up to accomodate a new environment - i.e. they will just be able to get right down to business rather than wasting time and energy to acclimate.

Question: So I am wondering how the yeast starters work. Should I calculate a tiny batch of the brew that I will be doing and:

1) run that through, making let's say a 1 gallon batch
2) then pitch a single pack (be it dry or wet) into that and let it go for a few
days
3) force chill it to calm the yeasties down
4) then drain off the excess liquid, bring the temp back up to the temp of the
big batch and pitch that

That seems like a lot of work, albeit fun and interesting, to get a larger batch of yeast.

Thanks in advance!!

P.S.: I'm running a Dbl Chocolate Stout, then a Wit, and then Vanilla Bourbon Porter.....which will all be in my newly built (90% complete) 8 keg keezer The liver is gonna need to work overtime this spring!

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Old 03-29-2011, 06:46 PM   #2
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I am absolutely no expert on the subject, but this is what I understand:

Make the starter wort out of w/e malt you want, most people prefer DME because of its availability, storability and ease of use. Starter size can be calculated by the mrmalty calculator, I throw caution to the wind and just use a 1L starter every time. Pitch your store bought yeast, I just use one vile/pack for whatever size I am doing. After 24 hours you should be at the yeast count you are looking for. You can pitch as is, or chill it to drop the yeast out of suspension. This is done so that you can decant the majority of the liquid for the starter as to not add it to your beer.

I usually start a day or three before I brew. Typically make the starter on Thursday, brew on Saturday.

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Old 03-29-2011, 06:57 PM   #3
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You don't need to approximate the beer you plan on making. Just use any DME. I'd say most people just use light DME. The important thing is that you have the yeast eating the same type of sugar that you will have in your beer. This is predominantly maltose, which is what you will get in DME. You just don't want to make the starter out of something like table sugar/brown sugar/honey/maple syrup, because those things will not consist of maltose.

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Old 03-29-2011, 07:14 PM   #4
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http://www.mrmalty.com
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:18 PM   #5
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I did find the Mr Malty site and that is definitely a good start. I can see what your saying about the sugar types and that makes sense. I think that is what I'll run with then, a light DME solution at whatever MR Malty suggests.

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Old 03-29-2011, 07:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kord78 View Post
I did find the Mr Malty site and that is definitely a good start. I can see what your saying about the sugar types and that makes sense. I think that is what I'll run with then, a light DME solution at whatever MR Malty suggests.
That calculator has never done me wrong. Always nice, fast, active ferments.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:30 PM   #7
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I use Mr Malty all the time...

- I make a small wort of ~1040 from DME according to the Mr Malty calculator (add the right amount of DME/water for the size starter I need). Make sure you select the proper drop down selection for what you're gonna do (stirplate, occasional shaking, leave it alone).
- I pour into my flask and chill to pitching temps.
- I pitch the requisite number of vials (I make bigger starters to reduce the # of vials I need to buy - cheap).
- I use a stir plate so I put the starter on the stir plate, turn it on and cover it with foil.
- ~24 hours later, I cold crash for however much time I need in order to decant off as much of the clear liquid as I can.
- shake to get the yeast broken up and pitch into your chilled wort.

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Old 03-29-2011, 08:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePearsonFam View Post
- I make a small wort of ~1040 from DME according to the Mr Malty calculator (add the right amount of DME/water for the size starter I need).
This is pretty much common knowledge, but the ratio of DME to water for a ~1.040 starter is 1:10. In other words, for a 1000 ml (1 L) starter, you would use 100 grams of DME (Extra light DME is the best choice). You can scale up from there.

The correct way to do it is to measure 100 grams of DME in your flask, then top off water until you reach the 1000 ml mark, but since my starter begins in a sauce pan (easier to break up clumps and makes boil overs a non-issue), I weigh 100 grams in the pan, measure 1000 ml in the flask, then just pour the water into the pan and get it up to a boil. Close enough. Then I dump it through a funnel and into a flask for the full 15 minute boil.

A couple other adders...
First, starters are only for liquid yeasts. Second, it will not hurt to add 1/4 tsp or so of yeast nutrient to the starter wort. Also, as mentioned, a stir plate is worth it's weight in gold. I do not see this mentioned too often, but hops do not go into your starter. Finally, no airlock! Just sanitize a square of aluminum foil and wrap it loosely over the top of the flask. It is my practice to pitch the entire starter into my wort. 1 liter is not going to make a dramatic difference to your 5 Gallons of wort. If I had a 1 gallon starter going into a light lager, I might feel differently.

Joe
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:52 AM   #9
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Finally, no airlock!
Why no airlock? I always put an airlock on mine, just because...
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Old 03-30-2011, 10:57 AM   #10
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I assume no airlock because you want the liquid to continue to oxygenate whilst they little guys are working themselves up?

Last night i had to go get 1/4" tubing so I picked up a stirr...er thingy and am now going to investigate stir plates. I still have a few days before the keezer is done and I'm ready to brew again.

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