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Old 11-20-2007, 07:40 PM   #1
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Default Mr. Malty

Up to this point I have not used a starter. After looking into why, I agree that it is something that should be done, at least with certain styles. I am going to be doing an extract Febtoberfest in the next few days and I don't want any esthers from a slow start, so I am doing a starter this time.
So I had a look at mrmalty.com and entered all of my information. 1.065 SOG, 5.25 gallon batch, lager, etc... The answer I got back was I should use a .8gal starter with 2 vials of yeast.
I have read that people have used 1 or 2 pint starters before, but I've never heard or read of a gallon. Am I making too much starter?

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Old 11-20-2007, 07:48 PM   #2
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Well, no. When I make a lager, I pitch a monster sized starter (to me!) but according to the pitching calculator, I'm still a little short.

I always use just one package of yeast, and step it up a few times. I will start with a starter of the usual size, and every day or so I add to it with more starter wort. With a lager, I do the starter at room temperature, but then chill it before pitching. Then I decant off the spent wort and pitch it to 50 degree wort. This little bit of temperature difference really helps! My yeast might be 47-48 degrees or so when I pitch it into 50 degree wort. It seems like that really helps it get started.

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Old 11-20-2007, 07:52 PM   #3
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That's actually pretty close to the size of the starter I used for my bock.

Homebrewers tend to dramatically underpitch. From my limited technical understanding, that sounds right and would be in-line with what commercial breweries tend to do. Especially with a lager, you need to pitch a LOT of yeast. Now, I would absolutely not buy two vials, I would step up my starter over time, then cold-crash it and decant as much of the starter beer off as I could (who wants to dilute their Oktoberfest by 15% with starter beer?). I don't see the need to buy two vials when the whole point of making a starter is to grow your own yeast. It wasn't talking about two vials OR a 0.8 gallon starter, was it?

In any case, that number absolutely makes sense in terms of what Jamil is always talking about on the podcast for the size of the starter, and given how successful he has been, I would trust his numbers.

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Old 11-20-2007, 07:53 PM   #4
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I use quart starters, but a gallon is not unheard of. You could do a quart and then step it up. When I do a really strong beer, I usually just pitch on a yeast cake from a previous brew. If you have time, make a 5 gallon pilsner, or amber lager and use the yeast for the Febtoberfest.

If you were doing an ale, it wouldn't take so much yeast, maybe a 2 quart starter. If you have the resources to do the recommended starter, do it. It's pretty hard for the homebrewer to pitch too much yeast.

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Old 11-20-2007, 08:08 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reassurances. I figured Jamil knows what he was doing, but like you said, I don't want to dilute my beer. I've already bought the 2nd vial of yeast, and I don't think I'll be making Oktoberfest/Febtoberfest again real soon (going all grain and I need to start simple) so I think the 2nd vial would just sit there if I don't use it now. Incidentally, if I don't do a starter, mrmalty thinks I should use 4.7 vials, or if I only use one vial and no stepping, then the starter volume should be 2gal. Any advice on decanting off the starter beer? I figured leave some liquid at the bottom to stir up the yeast and make it pourable.

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Old 11-20-2007, 09:35 PM   #6
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I'm lazy. If I need that much starter, I'll make a small beer & pitch on the cake.

Let it sit until the yeast cakes, then pour off about 75% of the liquid. Mix, pitch.

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