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Old 10-07-2011, 12:07 PM   #1
z56o2
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Default Yeast question

Ok, I apologize if this seems like a very redundant sort of question but I've been reading around and have not found an answer. My question is regarding yeast starters. From what I understand of yeast starter it is basically making a small amount of wort and throwing in the yeast, let it ferment for a while. The goal being to increase the number of yeast cells to have a more effective fermentation.

Here's the question. If the yeast starter is made by pitching into a small amount of wort, why doesn't pitching straight into a 5 gallon batch of wort do the same thing as a starter?

I've brewed a handful of batches now, never used a starter. I always end up with a huge yeast cake on the bottom indicating that the yeast did indeed multiply. I have lately been interested in somewhat refining my process and hopefully in turn my beer.

A tag on question, can using extra packets of yeast be just as effective as a starter?

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Old 10-07-2011, 12:35 PM   #2
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The reason a starter is a good idea is that you get the yeast active prior to pitching into your wort. They will in turn start fermenting faster and hopefully cleaner and more throughly.
you are correct that using a starter will also give you more yeast cells. You can just pitch an extra packet depending on the gravity of your wort. www.mrmalty.com is a good resorce for calulating how much yeast you will need for the gravity of your wort.
there are probably more reasons i'm not thinking of.
Fermentation is one of the most important aspects of making high quality beer

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Old 10-07-2011, 12:36 PM   #3
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My understanding of using a starter is this: One benefit is that you will get the fermentation starting more rapidly. This will get the alcohol content starting sooner, which will reduce the chance of any wild yeast, mold, bacteria from starting and causing off flavors, and potentially ruining your beer. I'm sure there are other benefits, but this answer is just off the top of my head.

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Old 10-07-2011, 01:06 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I'm brewing two batches today as I rarely have time to put into a day of brewing and I have no yeast started. I suppose I will have to suck it up and buy extra yeast. I will be starting a yeast library after this though. I've been doing some more digging and I can't believe I haven't been using starters or washing and reusing yeast.

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Old 10-07-2011, 02:21 PM   #5
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I have 8 brews using both liquid and dry cultures. The only thing I have ever done is to rehydrate dry yeast in boiled cooled water on brew day. No bottle bombs, no stuck fermentation thus far.

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Old 10-07-2011, 02:31 PM   #6
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Because you want the correct amount of yeast Cells BEFORE you pitch into the five gallons.

The yeast are going to start working really fast, and they're going to try to chew through 5 gallons whether they have enough yeast to do the job or not, and therefore they will be stressed out and produce off flavors.

By growing them in a smaller amount, they will not be stressed out.

Also, 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.

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.

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Old 10-07-2011, 03:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by william_shakes_beer View Post
I have 8 brews using both liquid and dry cultures. The only thing I have ever done is to rehydrate dry yeast in boiled cooled water on brew day. No bottle bombs, no stuck fermentation thus far.
Yes, but if underpitched are they as good as they [I]could[I]be? They will be good, but could possibly be better with not too much more work. Also starters are cheaper than extra packs or vials of yeast.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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ok, point taken. I try using starters on my rebrews and see where I go.

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Old 10-07-2011, 07:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z56o2 View Post
Thanks guys. I'm brewing two batches today as I rarely have time to put into a day of brewing and I have no yeast started. I suppose I will have to suck it up and buy extra yeast. I will be starting a yeast library after this though. I've been doing some more digging and I can't believe I haven't been using starters or washing and reusing yeast.
No need for more yeast, just make a real wort starter. Just pull off like 1L of your wort (use mrmalty to figure out the proper size), pitch your yeast into that and then pitch that into your batch tomorrow.
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