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Old 01-12-2010, 03:23 AM   #1
bergman1118
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Default Yeast starter gravity too high.. ditch it or go with the flow?

I know you've heard the story.. "My yeast starter gravity was _____, is it too high? Do I worry? What do I do?"

Well I just pitched into a 1.058 starter (White Labs Belgian Ale Yeast), and I should've known better.. Nevermind how or why I pitched into such a high grav starter.. so now I have the same n00b question.

I know the main consequence (stressed yeast) and I know the ideal starter gravity (1.040).. but can I just roll with this? Are the consequences so dire that my brew (intended to be a high grav ~1.080-1.090 belgian IPA) will be compromised? I know the typical answer - RDWHAHB - but I'd love to hear some thoughts beyond the typical mantra.

The belgian ale yeast is made for higher gravities.. right? So I won't be too bad off.. right? Honestly I'll probably just let it be, smell it in a few days, then decide.. but I'd still love to get some reassurance.. or someone to play devil's advocate and make me change my mind. Thoughts?

More info: 64 oz starter on stir plate, I usually let it ferment to completion and crash cool 24-48 hours before brew day, then let it sit at room temp. starting at the beginning of the brew session, decant 3/4 of the starter, swirl, pitch.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:31 AM   #2
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People will always ask the recipe but I say NEVER ditch. Let it play out and see what happens. Might not come out what is expected of original recipe; but you made something of your own.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:39 AM   #3
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pitch it and forget it. I bet you'll get beer. and tasty tasty beer at that.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:41 AM   #4
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Newbie here but I cannot resist. It is ruined, sent it to me and I will dispose of it for you :P

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalarast View Post
Let it play out and see what happens. Might not come out what is expected of original recipe; but you made something of your own.
I like this line of thought - it goes along with what I was intending to do anyway.

Of course it'll be beer, and it most likely be damn good. I was just wondering if anybody had any similar experience or could provide some insight. I'll just take it as a lesson learned and yet another reason to not buy LME anymore. Man I hate dealing with that stuff sometimes.
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:07 PM   #6
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Why not dilute the starter back to 1.040, if you're worried about it?

At any rate, I suspect you'll still make beer, and it will be tasty.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:10 PM   #7
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Might be too late now, but do you have room to dilute the wort? Adding a quart of water would drop the gravity to 1.039. Adding 16oz would get you to 1.046.

With that said, I don't think 1.058 is unreasonable. It's not ideal, and you might not end up with yeast as healthy as they might have been with 1.040 wort, but they'll still multiply.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:14 PM   #8
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Dilution had occurred to me, but I didn't have a substantial amount of room left in my starter vessel to dilute it significantly. I thought about pouring the starter in a sanitized vessel, diluting to ~1.040, then pouring as much of the dilute solution back into the sanitized starter vessel as possible.. but I didn't get to it in time. At this point, it's fermenting away and I don't want to disturb the yeasties from doing their work.

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Old 01-12-2010, 03:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bergman1118 View Post
Well I just pitched into a 1.058 starter.....
...and I know the ideal starter gravity (1.040).. ..... (intended to be a high grav ~1.080-1.090 belgian IPA) ....
Forgive my ignorance here, but I'm hearing a couple different things...

Ideal SG 1.040
Your SG 1.058
Intended SG 1.080-1.090

So I'm confused here. Either you have a higher than ideal SG or its lower than intended... could you explain that to me and which it should be and why. I'm getting ready to bottle my 4th batch, so I have LOTS of learning to do.
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iron_city_ap View Post
Forgive my ignorance here, but I'm hearing a couple different things...

Ideal SG 1.040
Your SG 1.058
Intended SG 1.080-1.090

So I'm confused here. Either you have a higher than ideal SG or its lower than intended... could you explain that to me and which it should be and why. I'm getting ready to bottle my 4th batch, so I have LOTS of learning to do.
The "ideal" and "actual" gravities are for the starter. The "intended" gravity is for the actual beer he will be making.

Ideally, you want a starter to be the ideal conditions for yeast growth without stressing them too much. A wort of about 1.040 is recommended for this. Too much sugar (a higher OG) and you can osmotically stress the cell walls of the yeast. Too low, and there is not enough sugar for them to grow on to a suitable cell number. If you are pitching into a super high gravity beer, you might even want to step up the gravity of your starter as you go, to slowly acclimatize the yeast to the wort and not shock them too much in one step.

However, if you throw yeast into an OG 1.058 starter they will grow. Just like you can throw them into a 1.058 beer straight from the pack. They will work, but you have stressed them a bit. It's too late now to dilute though. The damage was done when you first added them to the wort. But, that will not be major damage. 1.058 isn't that far from 1.040, and they will adjust. And, if they are growing, then they'll make beer.

Go ahead with your plan, and they'll be just fine! If you decant the spent wort, that will take some of the off flavors that may have been generated away anyway, and the yeast will be ready to go.


[PS - I can never get my boil-off right for my starters, so I always seem to be adding water to them to get the right volume.]
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