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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Yeast Starter for 5 gallon Batch?
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:50 AM   #1
JMcGuinness
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Default Yeast Starter for 5 gallon Batch?

Im going to be brewing a 5 gallon batch of Pale ale, do i need a to do a starter? Or will my Smack Pack be enough? This is my first batch of beer so I am kind of confused. Thanks.

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Old 03-12-2011, 09:59 AM   #2
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Hey there!

For a regular Pale Ale, I wouldn't think you need a starter but for future reference, the necessity of a starter depends on the Original Gravity of the beer rather than the amount of wort you are fermenting.

Hope that helps!

Tom

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Old 03-12-2011, 11:50 AM   #3
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What's the factor? High gravity or low gravity? I thought it was more to do with the amount of yeast cells, e.g. a liquid yeast having a smaller cell count.

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Old 03-12-2011, 06:28 PM   #4
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Yes. It does have to do with liquid yeast originally having a smaller cell count than if you were to use it in a starter. You should pitch the yeast to a starter before brewing a beer with an OG of anywhere above 1060. This is not a hard and fast rule, I know people that never make starters for any beer and others that make starters for every beer no matter the gravity. The number one thing that will change when making a starter is the lag time. This means the time from pitching to the start of fermentation would be reduced with a starter.

Haha, hope this makes sense!

Tom

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Old 03-12-2011, 06:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomOliver
Hey there!

For a regular Pale Ale, I wouldn't think you need a starter but for future reference, the necessity of a starter depends on the Original Gravity of the beer rather than the amount of wort you are fermenting.

Hope that helps!

Tom
If this were true I could just pitch a one smack pack into a 100 gallon batch with OG 1.045

I agree though. Shouldn't need a starter for a 5 gallon batch of pale ale
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:56 PM   #6
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If you have the time, and supplies to make a starter, I would do it for any brew with an OG over 1.050... I don't always do that, but when I do things take off much faster. Use the Mr. Malty site to figure out how big of a starter you should make for your brew... Keep in mind, you don't have to follow it exactly, to the decimal point, but getting pretty close is a good thing... If you have/make a stir plate you can get away with smaller starters. I plan on finishing my stir plate build, or just buying one, pretty soon.

I would also suggest looking at the Wyeast site's recommendation on using/making a starter...

Next time I go to the LHBS, I'll be getting some more extra light DME. I plan to split it into smaller bags, mostly 2oz each, to use in making starters. So, even a 1# bag will last a while.

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Old 03-12-2011, 07:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flabyboy View Post
If this were true I could just pitch a one smack pack into a 100 gallon batch with OG 1.045

I agree though. Shouldn't need a starter for a 5 gallon batch of pale ale

Yes. You're right. I was referring to a normal starting homebrew batch of 5 gallons.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:10 PM   #8
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It's really a good idea to make starters when using ANY liguid yeast, smack pack, tube, or the jar of washed at the back of your fridge, for all beers above 1.030 OG...

The biggest reason I suggest folks make a starter is if you make one you'll have peace of mind.

And you won't be starting an "is my yeast dead" thread in a couple of days. (Which then one of us will answer with...."Had you made a starter..."

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;

http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php

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

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.

The only reason NOT to make a starter is simple laziness....
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:06 AM   #9
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Man, I learn something here every day. Looks like a bigger starter flask is in my future.

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Old 03-13-2011, 01:13 AM   #10
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I'm going to be the guy at the back who raised his hand to say "for a simple pale ale, or anything where I'm just looking for a clean fermentation and not a lot of specific yeast character, I'm pitching a pack of dry US-05 and not worrying about having to make a starter."

Unless the beer is one where the yeast character is dominant (like a Belgian or a hefe), of if I'm doing a lager, the dry yeast is cheaper and has more viable cells than a White Labs tube or a Wyeast smackpack. I never fail to see active fermentation within ~18 hours, pitching a good dry yeast,

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