The great starter debate - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > The great starter debate

Thread Tools
Old 07-18-2005, 05:29 PM   #1
Apr 2005
Posts: 832
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

ok i know there are two camps in this area. those that make a starter and swear by it and those that don't and wonder what's all the fuss.

my question is this. most of use either reuse yeast, use wyeast or white labs. in the case of wyeast - i still hear some insisting that a starter should be made. my contention is that wyeast is a starter in and of itself. why would you make a starter out of a starter?

white labs is pretty much shake n bake.

unless you're using dried yeast - it seems to me that the starter is not necessary.

what say ye?
Upstate South Carolina Residents Check Out The Upstatebrewtopians. Celebrate tradition. Come back to the taste of hand crafted beer.

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 05:50 PM   #2
El Pistolero
El Pistolero's Avatar
May 2005
Houston, Baja Oklahoma
Posts: 3,585
Liked 15 Times on 15 Posts

I'm a complete noob, with only one batch under my belt, but having read every post on this site over and over again for the past month, I'm convinced that a starter is a good thing.

But having said that, on my first batch I used a packet of dry yeast, stirred it into boiled water that had cooled to 75 F or so, then pitched it after sitting for an hour...24 hours later the most active part of the fermentation had already finished. Go figure.
[/I] Up Next - Hobgoblin
After That - Czech Pilsner
Primary - Humboldt Hop Rod (4/24)
Primary - NOT Wheat AG SNCA (5/5)
Secondary -
Conditioning - SNCA Clone (3/3),

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 06:05 PM   #3
andre the giant
andre the giant's Avatar
May 2005
Southeast Missouri, USA
Posts: 539
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts

I vote for starters.... big starters. For my most recent batch, the spiced strong english ale, I made a 1.5 qt starter. 48 hours later I pitched it into the wort and I had airlock activity within 6 hours. If I just pitched the smackpack contents (probably 1/10 the volume of my starter), it would have taken much longer.

The longer your wort sits without a dominant microorganism cranking away on it, the greater the chance that some bacteria or fungus will set up camp in your brew. A little bit of work up front making a starter is worth the peace of mind. IMO.
After a year of sitting idle, Andre's All-Grain Brewery has reopened.
Batch #59-Kolsch (Secondary)
Batch #60-Blueberry Ale (Primary)

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 06:13 PM   #4

Starters rock! I've only used White Labs yeast and for a very long time, I never made a starter. I just pitched the vial and waited. After reading about them here and on other sites, and reading an article in BYO, I decided to try it. I've never looked back.

Instead of 12-24 hours for fermentation to begin, it usually starts within 3-6 hours! And the quicker the fermentation, the less chance for bad things to happen to your wort. Since you ferment quicker, you end up racking to secondary, bottling and drinking faster, too! Plus, if you suspect your yeast may be old, etc., and it turns out your suspicion is correct, you've only wasted a quart or so of wort, not five gallons.

Racking fresh wort onto a previous yeast cake gives you the same quick result.

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 06:33 PM   #5
Will work for beer
Dude's Avatar
Jan 2005
Knob Noster, Missouri
Posts: 8,770
Liked 87 Times on 70 Posts

Don't quote me on this but I believe you are right about the differences--I wouldn't be so concerned about using a starter with the Wyeast smack packs but with White Labs I would. I think White Labs vials have like 50 million cells or something, and the Wyeast packs have over a billion cells.
Again, not sure.

With any dry yeast I'd definitely use a starter.

I never used to understand the concept of the starter but my beers definitely taste better when I use them.
On Tap: Lake Walk Pale Ale -- Eternity (Raspberry Stout) -- Nutrocker -- Donnybrook Dark
Primary: Lake Walk Pale Ale
Secondary: Summit IPA
Up Next: Smoked Porter -- Pub Ale -- Watermelon Wheat
Gone But Not Forgotten:

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 06:43 PM   #6
Janx's Avatar
Dec 2004
San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 1,677
Liked 17 Times on 11 Posts

I've said over and over that my opinion is that starters make your beer better. I firmly believe it is one of the top things you can do to improve your beer.

A larger cell count results in a quicker, more vigorous fermentation, and is a good thing. There's really no reason to think that not using a starter is advantageous in any way, except it's a bit easier/lazier. A starter reduces risk of infection and results in a healthier fermentation, which makes for tastier beer. Find a commercial brewer and ask them whether a bigger yeast pitch is a better thing. They'll all say yes.

And I would disagree with some opinions in this thread in this way: Dry yeast has a far higher cell count than either Wyeast or White Labs and thus needs a starter the least of the three (though it's still a good idea to use a starter with dry).

Wyeast is *kinda* a starter on its own, but you'll get a much higher cell count if you make a starter with it after the smack pack is fully expanded. The multiplication that takes place in one of the large smack packs may be adequate for 5 gallons, but you're still better off making a starter. For 10 gallons, it's mandatory.

Oh don't give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
No, don't you give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
For my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may die
Won't you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 08:45 PM   #7
Porter fan
Jun 2005
Eagle MI
Posts: 189

I used a starter for the first time sat. and i must say I was impressed with the lag time 4hrs! Lot's of good information shared here!

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 08:57 PM   #8
Dirty blonde
DesertBrew's Avatar
Jan 2005
Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 5,764
Liked 115 Times on 101 Posts

Originally Posted by Janx
Hey, welcome back guy!

Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2005, 09:24 PM   #9
DeRoux's Broux
DeRoux's Broux's Avatar
Nov 2004
Beaumont, Texas
Posts: 2,959
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

still, both Wyeast and White Labs can use a starter for 5 gallons. bigger is better. the more yeast cells pitched and with proper aeration, the stronger and quicker the ferment. you'll double your cell count from 60 (White Labs) to 120 billion yeast cells w/ an average starter. Wyeast claims to have 100 billion, but I've read that's a little on the high side. this also helps reduce over working of your yeast which results in off flavors (like extra diacetyl).
DeRoux's Broux

Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2005, 01:33 AM   #10
Sir Sudster
Sir Sudster's Avatar
May 2005
Buda, Tx
Posts: 1,030
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Make a if's and's or Butt's about it.

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The great bubble debate Yuri_Rage Bottling/Kegging 19 10-31-2009 06:48 PM

Forum Jump