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Old 04-24-2011, 12:26 AM   #1
LarryC
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Default Do you count your starter in the volume?

I started using BeerSmith a couple of batches ago and there is one thing I'm not real clear on. I have set my batch size to 5.5 gal. for this session. BS shows I need 6.62 gal. preboil (90 minute boil). Is the 5.5 gal. batch size what I want left when I finish boiling? If the answer is yes, when I add my 2.1Litres of starter I'll be at almost 6 gal.

How do you reconcile these two items?

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Old 04-24-2011, 12:29 AM   #2
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I wouldn't dump in that big of a starter. Decant the liquid before you pitch. So no, I don't count the starter in my volumes.

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Old 04-24-2011, 12:41 AM   #3
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I guess I haven't refined my process to that level yet. I create a starter based on Mr. Malty recommendations, let it go for 10 to 12 hours and then pitch it. I time my brew day by getting the starter going as soon as I wake up and then pitching late in the day.

I've never decanted a starter and I imagine I would have had to got this one going a day or so ago to have it ready to decant today...

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Old 04-24-2011, 04:38 AM   #4
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I decant the liquid off the yeast starter too. Don't include that in your calculations.

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Old 04-24-2011, 04:44 AM   #5
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Get the starter going a few days in advance, the night before brew day stick it in the fridge. Pull it out and decant the liquid off the settled yeast then let it come up in temp to be closer to that of the wort it's being pitched into and pitch the sludge.

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Old 04-24-2011, 12:59 PM   #6
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Yeah, not sure you are doing a starter justice by starting it the same day you brew. If I'm brewing on Sunday, then I'll start the yeast on Wednesday or Thursday. A lot of times I can't schedule that far in advance, so I'll always have ingredients to make a different beer that uses dry yeast.

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Old 04-24-2011, 01:46 PM   #7
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I have read that it's better to pitch the yeast when it's at the peak of fermentation. If you wait until it finishes, put the starter in the fridge, and then decant the liquid off, then the yeast have to wake up before they can start on your main batch. Plus they are further along in their life cycle and producing bigger chemicals chains. I'm sure it doesn't matter that much in the long run, but I always try to pitch my entire starter when it is peaking for the best start to fermentation.

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Old 04-24-2011, 01:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryC View Post
I started using BeerSmith a couple of batches ago and there is one thing I'm not real clear on. I have set my batch size to 5.5 gal. for this session. BS shows I need 6.62 gal. preboil (90 minute boil). Is the 5.5 gal. batch size what I want left when I finish boiling? If the answer is yes, when I add my 2.1Litres of starter I'll be at almost 6 gal.

How do you reconcile these two items?
The 5.5 gallons it is calculating is what you want after the boiling and chilling, this is what your efficiency calculations are based on. As others said decant the liquid from the starter and pitch, any volume increases from the pitch are ok and are in addition to the target 5.5
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EBloom97 View Post
I have read that it's better to pitch the yeast when it's at the peak of fermentation. If wait until it finishes, put the starter in the fridge, and then decant the liquid off, then the yeast have to wake up before they can start on our your main batch. Plus they are further along in their life cycle and producing bigger chemicals chains. I'm sure it doesn't matter that much in the long run, but I always try to pitch my entire starter when it is peaking for the best start to fermentation.
One of the wonderful things about brewing is that there are many ways to produce a great beer, and at least for most of us homebrewers, there is still a bit of mysticism or "alchemy" involved in the process, because we don't totally understand the science behind all the possible things we can do that commercial brewers (and therefore the scientific literature) do not engage in.

With starters, it's a compromise between minimizing yeast stress and oxidation. I usually recommend the large starter --> ferment to completion --> chill --> decant method, because of what I have learned from fellow homebrewers and my own experience tasting the starters and the final beers. For others, the other method may give better results.
There is, of course, the hybrid approach that combines both methods (making two separate starters or making one starter that is fed new wort after it is decanted). Eventually I'll try the hybrid method and see if it cuts down on my lag time without affecting flavors negatively, but I haven't done this thus far.
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:32 PM   #10
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I ran into the same issue early on in my brewing adventures. As was mentioned earlier, some of the numbers in Beersmith (efficiency, IBUs, etc...) don't really count the starter volume. The calculations are just on the boil volume. I'm sure there will also be some minimal effect on IBUs (decreased?) since the starter was not boiled with the hops. I wouldn't worry about it too much, though. An exception I think would be ABV since it's more pre- and post-ferment. I usually take a reading after the boil and again after pitching the starter (if I haven't chilled and poured off the excess which I do most of the time). When you punch in the after-starter numbers, your efficiency calculation will be skewed, especially if it's a large starter. I just have to make a note somewhere that I used a big starter (and didn't have time to decant the excess wort) so that I know why my OG started low. Or I suppose you could boil longer to even things out from an OG and volume standpoint but then other calculations may still be a little off.

The bottom line, I don't think Beersmith, fine product that it is (and I use it a lot), is fine-grained enough to take into consideration how large starters (undecanted) affect the final product from all perspectives. I just try to get close and not worry about it too much. As others are saying, it's a little easier to work the numbers if you decant the excess liquid from your starter but I know sometimes that doesn't always work out. I'm sure you'll do fine...just don't sweat the numbers!

Best of luck...

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