I'm planning on brewing my first lager next month, and as I understand it, I'll need to use a liquid yeast with a yeast starter. But crunching the numbers, it looks like I'll need to pitch around 400 billion yeast cells (4 billion * point of O.G. per 5 gallon batch, then doubled because it's a lager). A 2-quart starter will give me around 200 billion cells, so this is where I run into my problem. It looks like I need 1-gallon starter.
How do you do a 1-gallon starter? I have a 2-liter Erlenmeyer flask, and I'll be building a stir plate in the next couple of weeks, but that's only half as big a starter as I supposedly need. Do I do a 3-stage starter (1 quart, then 2, then 4)? And when I get to the 4-quart starter, what type of vessel should I use to contain so much frothing liquid? Over how many days should I be doing this?
And finally (and possibly most importantly), do I just dump the entire gallon of liquid and slurry into my fermenter? Won't adding an entire gallon of plain-DME starter wort into 5 gallons of precious beer wort dillute the flavor? And if I use a 6.5 gallon carboy, that only leaves me 0.5 gallons of headspace - isn't that just asking for a blowout?
Looking for some voices of experience here! Thanks!