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Old 03-03-2009, 07:00 PM   #1
Mencken
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Default WhiteLabs Yeast: Any prep needed?

Hey, I have a vial of the White Labs yeast for a Sam Adams Summer Ale clone. I'll be making a 5g batch of the stuff. Should I create an activator? A starter? Should I just pitch it? Thanks

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:08 PM   #2
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I would make a starter.

Here are some references if you need help:

14 Essential Questions about Yeast Starters


Jamil's Pitching Rate Calculator

Homebrew Wiki on starters

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:17 PM   #3
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Agreed. Although you can "technically" pitch a vial directly into the primary, it is always good to do a starter. Starters are great to get the yeast cell count up to get a quick fermentation and also ensures that you have a viable tube of yeast. It doesn't happen often where you get a bad batch of yeast, but who knows. At least a starter confirms that the yeast is alive and kickin!

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:23 PM   #4
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I would make a starter.
Ditto. I used to pitch directly, but when I started making starters my lag time dropped significantly. I usually use dry yeast but when I use liquid, I make starters.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:36 PM   #5
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Couldn't you do a starter with your dried yeast just like you do with your liquid? Are there any benefits to not doing a starter with dry yeast?

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:41 PM   #6
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Couldn't you do a starter with your dried yeast just like you do with your liquid? Are there any benefits to not doing a starter with dry yeast?
Dry yeast already has a very high cell count, so a starter isn't necessary. However, I always rehydrate dry yeast. Some say this isn't necessary (the same people who say starters aren't necessary either) but I've noticed a shorter lag time when rehydrating.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:43 PM   #7
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Couldn't you do a starter with your dried yeast just like you do with your liquid? Are there any benefits to not doing a starter with dry yeast?
A package of dry yeast has c. 200 billion viable cells.

If you're doing a 5 gallon batch of a 1.060 OG ale, you want to pitch 208 billion cells. So for beer under that gravity, making a starter with dry yeast would just make you overpitch if anything. Over 1.060 (or more than 5 gallons) you'd consider a starter even with dry yeast.

A typical White labs vial or Wyeast smack pack has c. 100 billion viable cells, so even with smaller beers you need a starter to reach the right cell counts to pitch.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Couldn't you do a starter with your dried yeast just like you do with your liquid? Are there any benefits to not doing a starter with dry yeast?
In addition to the reasons above, making a starter less than a gallon does not provide enough space or resources for that many yeast to grow, so for normal sized starters you do not get much yeast growth when using a dry yeast.
Another reason is that it is much easier and nearly as cost effective to just pitch 2 packs of dry yeast as it would be to make a starter.

With a low gravity beer, you can directly pitch the WLP tube in the beer after allowing it to warm to pitching temps. However as noted it is usually a good idea to make a starter with WhiteLabs tubes and Wyeast Activator packs.

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Old 03-03-2009, 08:43 PM   #9
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Would it be ok to just pitch 2 vials of white labs yeast to get to 200 billion cell count instead of doing a starter?

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Old 03-03-2009, 08:49 PM   #10
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Besides the quicker start....I've found that my est FG is actually reached when I pitch a starter. When I was just pitching the vial of yeast, I always came up short..... If you have time, make a starter. I've gotten into this habit..... Gonna brew this weekend so, Tuesday (today), I go to my LBS and pick up my ingredients, come home, get a starter going.....Beef it up on Thursday with more DME and it's ready by Saturday or Sunday. KISS. Sure you could pitch two vials of yeast...but at 8.50 a pop (what my LBS charges) that's quite a hefty sum. With no special tools......Growler/mason jar, some DME, water and plastic wrap....you can make a starter. Later you can worry about stir-plates and flasks........

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