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Old 03-26-2008, 02:26 PM   #1
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Default How big of a starter can I make?

I was just wondering how big of a starter you can make with a wyeast activator pack. I have read that you don't want to pitch yeast into a starter that is too large, so I want to know at what volume do i have to do the starter in steps. I am planning on making a starter for a belgian tripel that i calculated to need a 4.5 quart starter, but i was thinking that more like a 3 quart should be adequate, and desired due to the increased yeast growth and ester production desired in this style.

So, how big is too big to pitch an activator into?



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Old 03-26-2008, 02:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by html034
I was just wondering how big of a starter you can make with a wyeast activator pack. I have read that you don't want to pitch yeast into a starter that is too large, so I want to know at what volume do i have to do the starter in steps. I am planning on making a starter for a belgian tripel that i calculated to need a 4.5 quart starter, but i was thinking that more like a 3 quart should be adequate, and desired due to the increased yeast growth and ester production desired in this style.

So, how big is too big to pitch an activator into?
It's not the volume of the starter that's the biggest concern, it's the gravity. That's what people mean when they say you don't want to pitch into a starter that's "too big"---by "big", they mean high-gravity.

Regardless of the batch I typically use 4.5oz of LME per quart of water. Most of my starters are 2 qts.


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Old 03-26-2008, 02:32 PM   #3
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A good question, I realize that you are looking for an exact answer. That is just not my style.

I would have brewed a lighter beer before it, using the desired yeast, and pitch on the cake. Just a thought.

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Old 03-26-2008, 04:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan!
It's not the volume of the starter that's the biggest concern, it's the gravity. That's what people mean when they say you don't want to pitch into a starter that's "too big"---by "big", they mean high-gravity.

Regardless of the batch I typically use 4.5oz of LME per quart of water. Most of my starters are 2 qts.
so what you are saying is that, given the appropriate gravity of the starter wort, there is no limit (within the sphere of starters) to how much wort you can pitch a yeast pack into and achieve appropriate yeast activity (I say activity because I'm still a bit unclear as to what is going on in the starter, whether it is primarily for yeast viability or for growth, because i have heard conflicting info.)

I ask for confirmation because I have heard that (on this forum and from other sources) that yeast health is better when you don't use too big of a starter, and grow it up to size in stages. What can anyone tell me about yeast health and the size (volume) of starters, to straighten this out for me once and for all.
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Old 03-27-2008, 12:48 AM   #5
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Just wanted to bump this thread to see if i could extract any more information out of you guys.

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Old 03-27-2008, 02:16 AM   #6
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Your question is too good!!

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Old 03-27-2008, 02:25 AM   #7
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I have heard that doing a 10x step up in yeast count is healthy and anything more than that is less healthy. From my understanding, the biggest you should go on a single step from one vial/pack for optimal yeast health is a 5 quart starter and that should be big enough for a beer up to around 1.080 OG. Any higher and you should first step to something intermediate or do like many here and time your brew day so that you can pitch onto a yeast cake from a previous fermentation.

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Old 03-27-2008, 02:37 AM   #8
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Starters should be made at 1.040 Metrically 10:1 1000ml water:100gm DME

You can step up to reach yeast cell count let the starter finish and settle then pour off the liquid and pitch just slurry.

I believe a 10x step up is the limit. You can keep upping it w/1.040 wort as it ferments out to any size. Its just time. The rub lies with how likely are you effect the final flavor. I think is comes from over-pitching in volume on a lighter bodied beer. I think pouring-off would help reduce this.

These links tell you all you need to know.

http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

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Old 03-27-2008, 08:33 PM   #9
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thanks guys, i appreciate the answers

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Old 03-28-2008, 12:54 PM   #10
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On a related topic: I have been attempting to build up a starter for a Belgian Strong Ale, but I have been having a devil of a time pouring off the spent wort. I chill the starter in the fridge for about 8 hours to flocculate the yeast, and then attempt to decant the wort, but I freak out because it looks like my yeast is going with it.

Is there a secret to decanting, or do I just need to stop freaking out? I ended up just pouring the fresh wort in on top of the old, but now I'm at capacity for my flask.



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