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Old 01-12-2014, 05:21 PM   #1
statyk
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Default Yeast starter advice?

Hi all,

I've never done a yeast starter before, but am planning on brewing a 1.080 Imperial IPA, so it seems time time to do it. I've read up a bit on the process here and elsewhere but could use a bit of hand-holding.

According to the numbers in Palmer's How to Brew I should be making around a 3qt starter for a beer of this size, starting from a single Wyeast 1056 smack pack. That sound right? I'm also hoping to be able brew tomorrow night, but I'm not sure if 24 hours is enough time to build up the starter I'd need.

Would it be best to just do 3qt starter off the bat, or start with a smaller one and build up from there? For such a large starter I don't think I want to dump the whole thing into my beer, so I suppose I'll want to settle out the yeast in the fridge and just pitch the slurry.

Should I make my starter match my wort gravity (ie 1.080) or just keep it at a more standard 1.040? Should I start with 3qt, or build it up in stages? If the latter, should I decant and add more wort to the slurry or just keep adding wort every day or so? How long should I expect it to take to work a single smack-pack up to the ~275 billion or so cells that (I think) I need?

Sorry for the long-winded question, but for some reason the whole yeast starter thing is kinda intimidating to me. Thanks!

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Old 01-12-2014, 05:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by statyk View Post
Hi all,

I've never done a yeast starter before, but am planning on brewing a 1.080 Imperial IPA, so it seems time time to do it. I've read up a bit on the process here and elsewhere but could use a bit of hand-holding.

According to the numbers in Palmer's How to Brew I should be making around a 3qt starter for a beer of this size, starting from a single Wyeast 1056 smack pack. That sound right? I'm also hoping to be able brew tomorrow night, but I'm not sure if 24 hours is enough time to build up the starter I'd need.

Would it be best to just do 3qt starter off the bat, or start with a smaller one and build up from there? For such a large starter I don't think I want to dump the whole thing into my beer, so I suppose I'll want to settle out the yeast in the fridge and just pitch the slurry.

Should I make my starter match my wort gravity (ie 1.080) or just keep it at a more standard 1.040? Should I start with 3qt, or build it up in stages? If the latter, should I decant and add more wort to the slurry or just keep adding wort every day or so? How long should I expect it to take to work a single smack-pack up to the ~275 billion or so cells that (I think) I need?

Sorry for the long-winded question, but for some reason the whole yeast starter thing is kinda intimidating to me. Thanks!
For starter wort, go with 1.035 gravity. That wort is there to give the yeast sugars to multiply in a non-stressful environment.

To calculate your starter needs, plug your numbers into this - http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-p...er-calculator/

Stirplate starters ought to get 14-16 hours on the plate to culture. Simple starters take longer (24-30 hours) to complete. After that, you can either pitch the whole thing or put it in the fridge 24+ hours to cold crash it so that you can decant the yucky starter beer off the yeast. I've always gone with option 2.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:40 PM   #3
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Yeast starters aren't really a mystery. Welcome to advance brewing 202.
Go to: http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html for a commonly used yeast calculator.

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Old 01-12-2014, 07:42 PM   #4
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I find it better to build up to the 3 quart volume you are after. The problem is if you want to pitch it in 24 hours or less you probably don't have time to build it up. I normally do a pint or a quart and let it do 24 hours or so then add a quart or so and give it another 24 hours till I get up to my volume. After the final 24 hours I put it in the fridge to let it settle out, then pour off a good bit of the liquid.

The full 24 hours for the fermentation is to give the yeast a chance to start going dormant. This gives the yeast a chance to get nutrients etc. so it is healthy when it wakes up.

All those websites and calculators are helpful as a guide but don't obsess or freak out trying to get your starter going. There is nothing wrong with getting to the point where you are really exacting and do put the effort into this but since this is your first it probably isn't worth worrying if you are doing a 1.040 or a 1.035 starter. The key is making sure it is healthy and getting used to the process.

I'm still a Newbie, less than a year of homebrewing, but this is what has worked for me. I made a quart and a half starter using the process I just described for my Scottish Wee heavy with an OG of 1.100. I pitched it last night at 6:30 and it was chugging away slowly by 9:00 this morning.

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Old 01-12-2014, 07:50 PM   #5
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You want to start with a lower gravity. This video from Whitelabs is helpful.


I usually make my starter 24-hours in advance. That means the starter is usually at high kruesen when I pitch. Some people like to ferment out completely and cold crash. They pour off the most of the liquid and then just pitch the yeast.

I pour everything in. I am not sure which is better.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:51 PM   #6
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One thing I forgot to mention is to use yeast nutrient if you have it. Just a touch for your starter and then again in the wort. I know beer usually has all the nutrients that is needed but it never hurts to have extra especially in a big beer.

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Old 01-12-2014, 08:00 PM   #7
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I boil 1lb DME in 3 quarts water. Cool. Put it in a 1 gallon glass growler (after being cleaned and sanitized). Shake well 30 seconds or so. Don't screw the cap on real tight (you can use a blow-off if you want). Set aside in a room with the same temp you will be fermenting at. 24-48 hours later, pitch in wort! You should be good to go as long as you see some activity from your yeast. You don't need to make it any more complex than that for my standards. Works every time!

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Old 01-12-2014, 08:23 PM   #8
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One thing I forgot to mention is to use yeast nutrient if you have it. Just a touch for your starter and then again in the wort. I know beer usually has all the nutrients that is needed but it never hurts to have extra especially in a big beer.
One thing to note - there is not enough yeast nutrient in a package of lager yeast, if you intend on increasing the yeast count by using starters. The liquid yeast usually has 1 billion cells, and you will generally need at least 3 billion cells for a lager. Four packages will give you enough, but why buy three or more expensive packages when you can easily increase the yield?
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:15 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I've decided to ditch the idea of brewing tomorrow night since I want to do it right and I realized I don't really even have a suitable container for the starter... I've got a 64oz growler, but that won't be quite large enough for my purposes.

Another question - how important do you think the fermentation temperature of the starter is? I don't have a spare fridge and my apartment is usually in the mid 70's, but my parents live nearby and have a basement that sits at a nice constant 68 degrees. Do you think it would make much difference if I do the starter here at an ambient temperature of around 75 degrees, then pitch it in wort that will sit in an ambient temperature of about 68?

Sorry if I'm over-thinking. I do that sometimes.

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Old 01-13-2014, 02:22 AM   #10
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Another question - how important do you think the fermentation temperature of the starter is? I don't have a spare fridge and my apartment is usually in the mid 70's, but my parents live nearby and have a basement that sits at a nice constant 68 degrees. Do you think it would make much difference if I do the starter here at an ambient temperature of around 75 degrees, then pitch it in wort that will sit in an ambient temperature of about 68?

Sorry if I'm over-thinking. I do that sometimes.
It's fine to do it on the kitchen counter in your apartment. You're culturing cells, not making beer.

I'd pitch 1056 cooler (around 60-62*F) and start the ferment with it at 64-65*F (beer temp, not ambient).
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