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Old 08-22-2013, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default Too Big of a Starter

I have never used a starter before but am planning on using one for the first time on my next brew. My question is can you make a starter too big? Everything I have read claims that started are the way to go because 1) you know the yeast is viable 2) you have more yeast at the start of fermentation. I feel that there has to be a limit to the benefit of increasing the size of the starter. I have seen starter calculators but have never used one. I apologize if this is a dumb question but would appreciate any help I can get. Thank you.

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Old 08-22-2013, 02:58 PM   #2
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From what I have read here and in the yeast book, yes you can over pitch. I use the Mr malty calculator and have seen it referred to in similar responses to posts like yours.

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Old 08-22-2013, 03:09 PM   #3
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Yes, you can have too many yeast cells pitched in solution and it will cause them to behave different. If I remember correctly, you will possibly get a phenol characteristic if you over pitch.

This is what I do for my starters:

<8% ABV Ales, ~1500ml starter
>8% ABV Ales ~2000ml starter
<8% ABV Lagers ~3000ml starter
>8% ABV Lagers ~5000ml starter

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Old 08-22-2013, 03:25 PM   #4
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Too big a starter and pitching too much yeast are two different things. Pitch rate is based on volume and strength of the beer. Under OR over pitching can lead to off flavors and other problems, though under pitching is more common for obvious reasons.
As far as starter size, there is an optimal growth rate at about 1.8 liters I think. I may have the number wrong, but the idea is the growth rate of yeast relative to starter size is NOT linear. As you get much above 2 liters it tapers off. If you can't get to recommended cell count with less than a 2.5 liter starter, the common solution is to do a second, or "stepped" starter. In this way you can use multiple starters to sort of "ratchet" up a yeast sample to any size...

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Old 08-22-2013, 03:45 PM   #5
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Thank you for the help

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