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Old 12-18-2011, 03:59 PM   #1
nasmeyer
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Default Questions on stepping up a starter

I have a couple of questions about stepping up a starter. I recently brewed an ale with a starting gravity of 1064 using a 1056 yeast. The Mr. Malty calculator showed I needed a starter of 3.1 liters based on the vitality of the smack pack. The ale finished a bit higher that was supposed to and took a couple days longer than I expected. I have read a few posts that lead me to believe maybe I should have stepped my starter up instead of making all 3.1 liters at one time, and thus creating a healthier yeast starter.

When making a 3.1 liter starter in a one gallon container with one yeast pack, is it better to make the entire 3 liter starter at one time? do it in 3 one liter steps? Or a one liter followed by a two liter step?

What is the maximum recommended size of a starter using one vial or smack pack I can make without stepping it up?

Since I use a one gallon container for my starter, do I need to chill my starter and decant for each added step, or can I just add the next step to my already active starter between 18 and 36 hours or so, and then decant the finished starter prior to pitching?

I also use nutrient and a quick shot of oxygen in each of my starters, and intermittently shake while fermenting, can I use nutrient and oxygen in each step if I am decanting the starter before pitching in to my 5 gallon batch?

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:44 PM   #2
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subscribed, interested in this discussion as well.

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Old 12-18-2011, 05:10 PM   #3
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You can make a starter that big all in one step but I have a few thoughts. It sounds like you don't have a stir plate, did you agitate the starter at all? How long did you let it go, and did you add any yeast nutrient?

It could be that you didn't get as high cell count as you were expecting because of lack of enough O2 (thus the shaking question). I have heard Jamil discuss this as the rate limiting step for most starters. I was also thinking it might need a little more time to work on that bigger volume.

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Old 12-18-2011, 05:11 PM   #4
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oh my gosh, must still be asleep (or hungover). Somehow I didn't see that last paragraph. Okay, maybe I don't have anything to add!

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Old 12-18-2011, 08:10 PM   #5
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Here's an interesting article on starters I found online.

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Old 12-18-2011, 09:35 PM   #6
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I have been told and read many times on this forum that it is best to try to double the starter size with each buildup and to not exceed going 4-5 times bigger in size in just one step. This may also depend on whether or not you use a stir plate. If you are just occasionaly shaking the starter container then I would recommend just doubling in size for each step. Others may have different opinions but this has worked well for me.

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Old 12-18-2011, 10:29 PM   #7
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Begin making your starters 4 to 5 days out from your brew day. Make a small starter say 1000ml and let it ferment for 24 hours... then chill the starter and decant the spent "beer." Then add 2000ml of wort to the yeast cake.. and repeat. I did a stepped starter over this last week. I woke up on brew day, took the starter out of the fridge, decanted the beer, let it warm up to room temp and pitched 300ml of water with 30 grams of dme. It hit high krausen and I pitched it. I had visiable fermentation of the wort within 2 or 3 hours.

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Old 12-19-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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If the beer wasn't decanted before each additional step, wouldn't the beer/gravity be duluted to below the suggested starter gravity of 1040? For example, if my first 1 liter step finished at 1.010, and I added a second 1 liter step that was also 1.040, wouldnt my total volume now be around 1.025? Would this matter at all?

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Old 12-19-2011, 12:52 PM   #9
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I think the point of decanting is to get out the exhausted wort and replace it with fresh wort of the appropriate OG. If the fresh wort were added to the spent wort, the net OG would be lower. Lind of like adding more water.

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