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Old 01-09-2013, 10:40 PM   #1
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Default Newbie to liquid yeast - Wyeast questions

Hi,

I'm getting ready to use liquid yeast for the first time. I have a Belgian Trappist Ale kit, which I upgraded to include Wyeast 3787 (Trappist High Gravity). The kit says the OG should be 1.053.

The instructions say to activate the Wyeast 1-2 days before I brew. The Wyeast itself says to allow at least 3 hours at room temperature after I smack the pack. The Wyeast website says to refrigerate the yeast if I'm not using it right away. It's in the refrigerator right now.

So, 1-2 days before I brew, do I let the pack warm to room temperature, smack it, let it sit out for three hours or so to make sure the pack swells, put it back into the refrigerator until brew day, then take it out and give it a few hours to return to room temperature before I pitch it?

Which brings up my other question, how big a deal is it if I just pitch from the packet and don't create a starter? In my "How To Brew" book, it recommends 50-110 billion yeast cells for a wort gravity less than 1.055. The Wyeast packet claims to already contain 100 billion cells. Based on the instructions in my book, creating a starter sounds a little complicated, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to take that step yet. On the other hand, I obviously don't want to mess up my beer!

Thanks, as always, for the great help!

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Old 01-09-2013, 10:47 PM   #2
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The 100 billion cell claim is a little misleading. Wyeast packs contain ~100 billion cells when they leave the factory, you lose yeast cells every day as it gets older. You can use this calculator to see how much yeast you have left by entering the date of production off the wyeast pack. You'll then see the viability, the percentage of living yeast cells remaining. It will also spit out how many you need for your batch and give you starter making information.

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

You're more than likely going to underpitch and not have enough yeast for optimal fermentation, but you'll have to calculate that out and decide. I would almost always recommend a starter and they're not difficult so it might be something to get into sooner rather than later.

As far as smacking the pack, you want to do that procedure on brew day, don't put it back in the fridge.

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Old 01-10-2013, 06:14 AM   #3
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I mostly use wyeast and I just activate it when I start my brew day. No need to let it go 2-3 days. If in doubt follow the directions from that manufacture since its their product and they know. For 1.053 og you probably don't need a starter, but it never hurts unless you way over pitch.

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Old 01-10-2013, 12:03 PM   #4
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I set mine out the night before brew day then smack it 3-4 hours before brewing.

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Old 01-10-2013, 12:30 PM   #5
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I usually set it out the morning of my brew and then smack it before I begin. I have yet to have a problem with fermentation or hitting FG.

As for starters, I have yet to do them and have not had a problem...the highest gravity i have pitched was 1.072 and the beer came out great. IMO, I would not any higher than that without a starter or an additional wyeast packet.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:13 PM   #6
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This is interesting because I just did two batches with wyeast and I smacked them 3 full days before and left them at 70 degrees. (I had other reasons for doing this as my kits sat in UPS limbo for a full 10 days before getting to me and before I brewed I wanted to make sure they were good so I did it early) I am telling you I never have had beer ferment so rapidly, indicating to me that it works and a starter is not needed. I did Northern's Bavarian Wheat and The Big Honkin Stout. I posted in another forum that the Wheat went so fast it blew the airlock off and sprayed beer to the ceiling and on the big screen tv in my basement! I sure as heck didn't need a starter there. I have done it the 2-4 hours before way and it worked but I think from now on I will just do it the day before not three days. Right now, they are both pretty close to FG and I brewed on Monday 01/07/13.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:32 PM   #7
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I would be cautious over being happy about fast fermentation. Often times the conditions that allow such fast fermentation, high ferm temperatures, can cause esters and the formation of fusel alcohols, which can lead to hangovers. Another factor that plays a vital role in blowoffs is the protein content of your wort, hence why your wheat went to the ceiling, and doesn't necessarily mean you didn't need a starter, although you may not have, I just wouldn't use a blowoff as a sign that you had enough yeast. You could have underpitched, fermented hot, and had a high protein beer and wound up with a fast fermentation with huge blowoff. But it will have esters and fruity flavors. Some styles call for that, others don't, that's why you have to adapt to every recipe.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:51 PM   #8
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Fermentation experts, award-winning homebrewers, authors of books on brewing, and commercial breweries recommend certain yeast pitching rates for a reason. Usually you need a starter to hit the pitching rates they suggest, which are 0.75 million to 1 million cells per millilitre per degree Plato for ales, and at least 50% more for lagers. If you can underpitch and consistently get scores of 40 or better from certified beer judges, you're on the right track. Otherwise...listen to the pros.

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Old 01-11-2013, 01:29 AM   #9
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I've only been brewing beer for 1 1/2 years but have mostly used Wyeast & w/ very good success.
I usually smack the pack the AM of brewing and sit it on top of the fridge in the kitchen(warmer).
By the time I'm ready to pitch is is very swollen & ready. Just dip the top of the pack in Starsan & your scissors. I pour into my carboy (BB) using a small funnel. Make sure you get a the clunks, too.

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Old 01-11-2013, 01:59 AM   #10
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If you are using liquid yeast then you should be making a starter for any beer over 1.030 OG.

Plain and simple........best practice=best beer

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