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Old 10-20-2008, 08:43 PM   #1
GroovePuppy
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Default Starter - at the risk of flogging a dead horse

So I used a Wyeast pack for my Nut Brown on Saturday just used it straight from the pack. I see a ton of discussion here about "lack of yeasties" and liquid yeasts particularly benefiting from a starter but the folks at the local HBS store didn't seem to think it was worthwhile at all. In fact saying they looked at me like I just took a dump in the middle of the store wouldn't be completely inaccurate, saying I was being given old information.

I have to say overall that I went into my HBS on Friday for ingredients all pumped up from the inputs you guys had given me and they totally burst my bubble. The grain/flavor contributions were pooh-poohed, the yeast starter was dismissed, my recipes were ignored and replaced, albeit with some discussion, and they just generally aren't as welcoming to a noob as I'd hoped. Especially given that people like me are the future of their business.

Anyway, rant aside, and given that the Wyeast pack did say it was suitable for 5gallons of beer wort, if you guys say starters are better (by some consensus) then I'll start ignoring the HBS folks. In fact I think I'll resist asking for their input at all. My fermentation started nicely within 24 hours and is chugging along nicely, and the wort tasted like it should work out nice, but still.....

Like I said I realize I'm beating an old subject into the ground but what's a lad to do when he's given a bunch of very helpful and logical advice from such a large and diverse group as yourselves, so obviously wealthy in experience, only to be led into doubt by one small group of individuals that thinks everyone else is wrong and the Earth is indeed flat!

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Old 10-20-2008, 08:53 PM   #2
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You can go to Mr Malty and use the pitch calculator. I'd imagine your nut brown had an OG low enough to deal with a lower cell count. Don't try it with an imperial IPA, et. al though.

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Old 10-20-2008, 09:06 PM   #3
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Ya see, that's what I was worried about. I had an OG of 1.058 and a little over 4.5 gallons at time of pitch. Mr Malty says I should've used two packs with no starter.

OK, that's enough to convince me. In future I listen only to the wise words at HBT.

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Old 10-20-2008, 09:21 PM   #4
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The general consensus has always been that you don't need a starter for average gravity ales but they are good practice nonetheless.

They probably discourage Noobs from making starters just because it's more crap to learn and deal with and many, many, many great beers have been made and will be made without them. I still use them though.

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Old 10-20-2008, 09:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeleTwanger View Post
The general consensus has always been that you don't need a starter for average gravity ales but they are good practice nonetheless.
There you go. "Good practice" was exactly what I thought but the HBS staff acted like they'd never heard of such a thing. They didn't say "well you shouldn't need one but if you'd feel less anxious" or "some people prefer the security of higher yeast count" or "I plugged the numbers into Mr Malty myself and it says ixnay on the arterstay". No, they just dismissed the idea.

May all their home brews taste like cat pee from now on!
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:43 PM   #6
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There is enough viable yeast in a smack pack for a 5 gallon batch. But I will guarantee that your lag time will be at least 8-12 hours before you have a good fermentation going. With a starter you will likely see decent action in less than 4-6 hours. With that said, giving your yeasties a head start gives you a faster start and less risk of contamination.

And to each their own. DO what you feel comfortable with. I make a starter with all my beers, light or heavy. I've never had an issue and sometimes ferment out a lot faster, which gets them into my belly faster.

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Old 10-20-2008, 09:53 PM   #7
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The worst thing a starter can provide you is insurance you didn't need. The downside is giving up a cup or two of DME and a half hour or less of your time. The upside is healthier yeast that you know is viable. A starter gives you a better chance of making better beer with minimal cost. Plus, you get some peace of mind. That's just hard to beat.


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Old 10-20-2008, 11:06 PM   #8
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I made my first few batches without a starter, but after that, I always make a starter. I will say that if you don't have good sanitation practices, which many noobs lack, then learn as much about sanitation as possible. I started out using the Joy Of Homebrewing as a reference, even using a plastic juice bottle as a vessel for the starter. Now I just use a 2000ml flask that I do on a camping stove...no worry about sanitation.

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Old 10-20-2008, 11:48 PM   #9
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I just used a starter for the first time about a week ago and although the beer is a good month or so from drinking...I can already say I probably will use a starter on all batches now. Before when I would use the White Labs vial alone, it took a few days for fermentation to start, and it wasn't very aggressive. My ending gravities didn't seem low enough either....

This last batch with the starter took off in about 7 or 8 hours and fermented strong for about 3 days. I'm much more confident in the beer and less anxious about something having gone wrong.

Plus, since my starter had fermented vigorously, I knew the yeast was good and wasn't wondering if I'd have to re-pitch, or take hydro readings to see if what it was doing (risking contamination)...

I recommend the starter....a 2 lb bag of DME will make a bunch of starters so it doesn't add a bunch of expense to the batch either...

My HBS shop owner balked at first when I mentioned making a starter (I think it's because they worry that customers will just buy smack packs or dry yeast online instead of their refridgerated liquid yeast)....but I told him I just wanted to make the best beer I could...he nodded his head and said a starter was the way to go....

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Old 10-20-2008, 11:52 PM   #10
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aw. Where's the horse?

I was looking to take out some aggression!




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