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Old 03-30-2009, 05:37 PM   #1
the_merlin
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Default Liquid Starter for Liquid Yeast

I have a n00b question, but isn't that what the beginners forum is for? I've searched for starters for liquid yeast, but I am getting results for liquid yeast starter. So my question is, what ingredients do I need for a White Labs liquid yeast vial to make a starter? I am reading a lot of posts that talk about a Smack Pack, but doesn't that already contain a strain of yeast? I think that I will need about 1 cup DME and 32 oz of water, but I am curious if there needs to be an 'activator' or nutrient package for the liquid yeast as well? Also, can I use the same DME for the starter that comes in the extract recipe package that I'd be brewing over the weekend, or is that not suggested?

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Old 03-30-2009, 06:04 PM   #2
ifishsum
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I like to keep some spare DME around just for making starters, otherwise you're robbing some from your recipe. Not a real big problem either way though, especially if you pitch the entire starter.

A smack pack and a vial both contain liquid yeast, the only difference (other than packaging) is that the smack pack contains a small nutrient package to feed the yeast right before pitching. Either way they contain about the same number of yeast cells (not really enough) and will benefit from a starter. The nutrient isn't a necessity but it's beneficial and you can add some to the wort in the last 10 minutes of your boil if you want.

Unless it's a big beer (over 1.060 or so) I usually make a 16-20 oz starter with about 1/2 cup of DME (boiled and cooled of course). Add that plus your yeast vial to a sanitized vessel that's at least twice your liquid size - a growler works great - shake it like crazy and loosely cover the lid with foil. Shake or swirl that thing every half hour if you can, and keep it around 70*F. You want to keep it oxygenated for optimum yeast growth. After 24 hours you can either pitch the whole thing into your waiting wort, or you can wait until it's completely finished bubbling, crash cool and discard the starter wort and pitch only the yeast slurry.

Bigger beers call for bigger starters, most commonly by doubling the starter wort after the first day. This is called "stepping up" and it's purpose is simply to force the yeast into another growth phase and increasing your cell count.

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Last edited by ifishsum; 03-30-2009 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:47 AM   #3
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I know this is an old thread, but I was hoping someone in the know can let me know:

I've always used dry yeast, oxengenated the wort, then pitched from the packet or a small solution with warm water.

Today I tried liquid wyeast smack pack for the first time, one swelled and I pitched at good temps, oxengenated prior. The other never did swell (5 hours after smcking at room temp), and I totally forgot to stir the wort before adding it to the 2 litre bottle. So I just shook it up after this weak yeast addition. I thought I likely killed the yeast, but the above poster said shake it like crazy after adding the yeast.

Is this correct? Should I keep shaking this starter? BTW I have a cool Mr. Beer system whereby using a 2L bottle with a cap that has the whole drilled in the centre, and a rubber washer with a very tiny hole that only vents when under pressure, so hopefully that is not too closed of a starter.

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Old 10-01-2010, 12:04 PM   #4
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Just give it swirl ever once in a while. I leave my starter on the kitchen counter (I use a large 1/2 gallon Ball jar) and when I walk by, I give it a little swirl. This is to add oxygen to the starter.

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Old 10-01-2010, 09:14 PM   #5
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Thanks Pappers! Do you think I should get some more oxygen into the starter again? The one that never swelled is just sitting at the bottom (both are pilsner yeasts at room temp), its really doing nothing. Maybe some yeast nutrient again? I added a 1/4 tsp last night.

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