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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Yeast starter for a lager
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Old 05-09-2009, 06:43 PM   #1
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Default Yeast starter for a lager

I just made 1.5L yeast starter with some WLP833 German Bock yeast. What temperature should I keep the starter at? Some people seem to say room temp is fine, while others say keep it at the desired fermentation temp.

Any opinions?

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Old 05-09-2009, 07:06 PM   #2
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Room temp is fine....you're growing yeast, not making beer. But that starter is way too small for a lager.

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Old 05-09-2009, 07:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the temp info.

As for starter sizes, I have pitched 1 vial, 2 vials, small starters and large starters into my lagers and all of the beers have turned out just fine. There may have been a day or two difference in fermentation times, however all of the beer tasted just fine. While it might be "better" to use a larger starter I am very comfortable using a 1.5L starter for a 5 gallon batch. It has worked very well for me in the past.

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Old 05-09-2009, 08:58 PM   #4
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Okey dokey....if it works for you, that's what you should do. Personally, I've gotten better results with larger starters, so that's what I do. Have you ever looked at mrmalty.com?

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Old 05-09-2009, 09:44 PM   #5
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I've done okay with building up first with 1liter, then adding another liter of wort and more oxygen 12 hours later. I know MrMalty prefers 5 liters but I'm not buying a monster flask. The reason larger is better is because the "right" way to do this is to chill the wort and the starter slightly below the desired ferment temp. If I'm fermenting at 54F, I chill both down to 50F, pitch and then let it warm to 54F.

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Old 05-09-2009, 11:24 PM   #6
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Again, I have had success with my methods, however what effects have you guys noticed by underpitching? Is there a flavor difference (if so what) or just a lag time increase before fermentation starts or something else?

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Old 05-09-2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdbrew1024 View Post
Again, I have had success with my methods, however what effects have you guys noticed by underpitching? Is there a flavor difference (if so what) or just a lag time increase before fermentation starts or something else?
Well, I am a big believer in pitching cold. So, I'll pitch a 48 degree yeast into a 50 degree wort and ferment it. In order to do that, my opinion is you need enough yeast to do it. I don't usually get as much as mrmalty suggests, but I do have a big starter for lagers.

I let it ferment out completely, step it up, and let it ferment out again. I then refrigerate and decant the spent wort before pitching it into my lager wort.

I believe that by having enough yeast, you avoid some off flavors and often don't even have to do a diacetyl rest when you pitch cold and allow enough time in primary (along with having enough yeast to begin with). Lagers should be very "clean" and crisp, with no esters or other off-flavors from the yeast.

Underpitching may cause long lag times and stressed yeast, which can lead to undesirable flavors in a lager.
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Again, I have had success with my methods, however what effects have you guys noticed by underpitching? Is there a flavor difference (if so what) or just a lag time increase before fermentation starts or something else?
In my case, every beer that I've used a starter for has turned out to taste better than any beer I didn't use a starter for. That was all the evidence I needed.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:25 PM   #9
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There seems to be somewhat of a consensus that under pitching yeast can lead to undesirable flavors, however everything I have read here is somewhat anecdotal and subjective - that is no one gives any examples of what sort of off flavors might be generated, and why. Can anyone help me with this? Any specifics that I can use to help me decide for myself how important this is?

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Old 05-10-2009, 08:34 PM   #10
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There seems to be somewhat of a consensus that under pitching yeast can lead to undesirable flavors, however everything I have read here is somewhat anecdotal and subjective - that is no one gives any examples of what sort of off flavors might be generated, and why. Can anyone help me with this? Any specifics that I can use to help me decide for myself how important this is?
off-flavors from underpitching may include esters (especially inappropriate in a lager), and possibly more diacetyl. Several reasons- one is that yeast reproduction would have to take place before fermentation. This can stress the yeast. Here's some information from Jamil Zainasheff on starters (lager info and pitching rate 1/2 way down).

Of course it's subjective- taste is very subjective. Lagers should be "clean" without any off flavors, but that's according to the style guidelines. I wouldn't want a lager with estery flavors, but that doesn't mean that it would taste bad. If you're happy with your process, that's fine.
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