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Old 09-28-2009, 12:05 AM   #1
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Default Starter or pitch from the packet?

Is making a yeast starter really necessary to make better beer? So far we have done several batches both extract and AG, and all have come out good by just pitching the yeast directly from the packet.

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Old 09-28-2009, 12:06 AM   #2
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most of the time, with 11g dry yeast packets, no starter is necessary at all. with smaller packets, or with liquid yeast, a starter will usually help a lot.

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Old 09-28-2009, 12:15 AM   #3
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Dry yeast doesn't need a starter. If you need more yeast, just pitch two packets. Cheaper than the DME you'd use to make a starter.

I've had good luck going against the grain and just pitching the smack pack of liquid yeast right into well-aerated wort. It works for me and makes good beer. Is it the best and safest route? Probably not. Would making a starter give me better odds at better beer? Sure.

It really depends on your starting gravity. The higher your OG, the greater the need to make a starter.

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Old 09-28-2009, 12:37 AM   #4
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So all these flasks and stir plates that I see people making are because they have too much time on their hands?

Plus you have to plan on making a starter ahead of time.....planning normally doesn't work for me! ha

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Old 09-28-2009, 12:57 AM   #5
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Are you talking about liquid or dry yeast?

If it's dry you don't need a starter, though many recommend re-hydrating.

If it is liquid, making a starter first insures that your yeast is still alive and viable before you dump it in your beer. You will be less likely to start one of those "is my yeast dead?" threads that are on here every day.

You will also ensure that you have enough yeast usually the tubes and smack packs are a lot less yeast that you really should use for healthy fermentation.

If you look at and use Mr Malty's pitch rate calculator you can see how much yeast you SHOULD be using for the grav of your beer. http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html you wil find that what's in the tubes or smack pack is usually way under what you should be using.

Making a starter also usually means your ber will take off sooner, because the first thing that the little buggers do in the presence of wort (whether in a flask or in a fermenter) is have an orgy to reproduce enough cells to do the job...So it won't take such a long time in the fermenter since they started doing it in the flask.

Additionally it is better for the yeast to consume and reproduce incrementally rather than just dumping them into the fermenter...The yeast will be less stressed out than if you just dump them in.

Stressed out yeast can lead to a lot of off flavors...maybe even (though rare) the dreaded autolysis....Or the curse of 1.030....getting a stuck fermentation because the yeast have bit the dust.

So making a starter proves your yeast is still healthy, allows you to grow enough yeast to do the job, cuts down on lag time, and ensures that you will not get off flavors or stuck ferementations from stressed out yeast.

So no, it's not just that we have "too much time on our hands" it's that we want to make the best and tastiest beer possible. You may have lucked out a few times under pitching, but eventually you may hit a wall, and have it not turn out so good....or possibly you will try it on a recipe you have brewed before and you will notice how cleaner the beer tastes when the yeast aren't so stressed out.

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Old 09-28-2009, 01:10 AM   #6
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Cool, something else to eventually dive into. I skimmed it on "How to brew" by Palmer and it just looks like a lot of extra work. But, doing something else that will eventually lead to better beer is something good to learn.

I just wonder why then on they liquid, Wyeast, smack packages they specifically say "ready to pitch"?

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Old 09-28-2009, 01:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmbnpj View Post
Cool, something else to eventually dive into. I skimmed it on "How to brew" by Palmer and it just looks like a lot of extra work. But, doing something else that will eventually lead to better beer is something good to learn.

I just wonder why then on they liquid, Wyeast, smack packages they specifically say "ready to pitch"?
Because a lot of instructions in this hobby are written more to appease people like you who "Think it's too much work" or are part of the "instant gratification generation" so they make a concession to that and sacrifice "quality" over convenience.....And let us pick up the slack when people post :"is my yeast ruined" threads.

This is from a great article in byo...

Quote:
http://www.byo.com/stories/recipes/a...o-liquid-yeast

You could pitch this teaspoon or so of actively fermenting yeast directly to your wort. In fact the package directions might tell you to do just that. Many brewers (including yours truly) did it that way on the first batch or two using liquid yeast. But experienced brewers caution against it. A better plan is to make a starter culture--to create a larger volume of active yeast cells for pitching. And making a starter is a must if you plan to use BrewTek, Yeast Culture Kit, or Yeast Lab products, packaged in the test tube without the sterile wort
activator.

Using a starter culture will increase the number of viable yeast cells you pitch into your wort, decreasing your chances of infection by encouraging a fast start of fermentation.
Plus if you look at BYO's succinct starter instructions, you could see how difficult it would be to get it on one of those tubes.

And like you said in your first post, you pitched it as is and it worked fine. It WILL make beer that way, but going the extra step and making a starter will make BETTER beer.

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Old 09-28-2009, 01:41 AM   #8
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So, next question, what is your method of making a starter?

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Old 09-28-2009, 01:54 AM   #9
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So, next question, what is your method of making a starter?
I boil 2cups of water and stir in 1/2 cup of DME. I boil it for a few minutes, they say 15 but I usually just do between 5 and 10 minutes or so.) Let it cool in my sink, Put it in my flask, add sanitized stirbar, then add yeast. Spray some starsan on a piece of tinfoil and crumple it loosely on top of the flask. Put it on my stirpllate and let it go for a couple days.

If I know I need to do a couple feedings t build it up, every couple days I boil up some more water and DME and add it to the flask. I call that feeding the yeasties.

Then on the morning of brew day or the night before I turn off the stirplate and let be. Giving it time to let the yeast flocculate (settle) to the bottom of the flask.

When it's time to pitch, I carefully pour off maybe half of the "beer" on top (decanting) and pour everything else into my fermenter.

If I am harvesting from a bottle of commercial beer, I usually try to get a few bottles of the beer I am harvesting from...Abd I may drink them over a few days, leaving maybe an inch of beer/yeast behind. I usullay then spray sanitizer on the bottles, re-cap them with a sanitized cap and store them in my fridge til harvest day. Then I do the same thing as above, I make up a small amount of wort, and add it to my flask, then I spray the bottles with sanitizer, open them with a sanitized bottles opener and flame the lip, and pour the dregs of the bottles into my flask.

I just harvested some Hoegaarden yeast using 12 bottles of the beer. I got IIRC three mason jars full of the yeast. And when I brew another wit, I'll take one of those mason ars and make a starter out of that.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:02 AM   #10
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Awesome, did you make your stir plate or buy it somewhere?

I've been wondering how to get yeast from commercial beers. Thats interesting. So, how long will the 3 mason jars of yeast you got last? Do you refrigerate them?

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