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Old 04-19-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
Toby2
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On Friday, I made a 32 oz starter with a cup of LME and a single packet of dry yeast. Last night, I pitched it and today my air lock is running like super duper fart machine. In the past, I've waited 24 hours plus for a sign of fermentation and this morning I was amazed.

If possible, will someone please tell me the primary advantages for using a starter. I have more than one brewing book and none of them go into detail as to why you should use a starter. Also, what is the optimum amount for a 5gallon batch?

Toby
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:25 PM   #2

It's basically about giving your beer everything it needs in terms of what you can do to ensure the best fermentation possible. Sure, a vial of yeast might do it. Or a pack of dry yeast. And it may take 24 hours to begin fermentation. But with a starter, you are making it that much easier and better for good fermentation. And how much starter you need depends on the beer. There are great online calculators that can tell you how much starter you need given some gravity (e.g. Mr. Malty).

 
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:39 PM   #3
Toby2
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Thanks for the calculator link and I'm with you on the 'more is better yeast cell count', but I'm more interested in what the starter does that I can taste in my beer. Will there be a difference in taste versus the same batch with a packet of dry yeast sprinkled on top? I've searched starter and I could find anything more than more is better. It stands to reason, but there must be more here.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:49 PM   #4
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Starters are generally not necessary for dry yeast- you can rehydrate it to help it out a bit. For liquid yeast, starters ensure that you're pitching the proper number of yeast, which helps with things like appropriate ester production and other flavor characteristics, and makes sure that those yeast are up and at 'em when they hit the wort- shorter lag time means lower chance of some other critter setting up camp before your yeast get busy.

Use that Mr. Malty site, because more is better to a certain extent. Overpitching can lead to undesirable characteristics as well. Making and pitching the right size starter for liquid yeast, or the right amount of dry yeast is a key to really dialing in great beers. None of it's hard, but it can involve a little pre-planning. Proper pitch rate has improved my beers, for sure.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:52 PM   #5
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Starters are usually not recommended for dry yeast, as it has a high enough cell count already for a normal gravity beer, or is cheap enough to pitch two packets for a higher gravity beer. With dry yeast there are reserves that are built into the yeast that are best used when propagating in the beer itself (so I'm told).

Starters are used for liquid yeast, the packages say they are pitchable into a 5 gallon batch but you really need a higher cell count to get good fermentation. Results using a starter won't be as dramatic as temperature control, but you'll get better attenuation, and less phenolic esters from stressed yeast.
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:01 PM   #6
Toby2
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Thank you for the replies.

I used dry yeast and I made a quart of starter. Did I over pitched and what effect will this have on my beer?

By the way, I've never such an active fermentation and I've never this much activity so early either. Next batch, I'll go back to liquid and make a starter.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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On my the last batch of beer I started last week, I used a 2 liter starter of Pacman yeast that I stepped up from the sediment from a Rogue Dead Guy's Ale. 2.5 hours after pitching the yeast, I had bubbles in my blow off tube. About 10 hours later the carboy was in a frothy rage as the yeasties were partying like crazy.

So long as I'm not using dry yeasts, I'm a firm believer in the starter method.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:56 PM   #8
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Starters are great for making sure your yeast is alive and happy before you add it to your wort.

If they're dead, you lost a 1 liter starter. oh well
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Old 04-19-2010, 04:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coryforsenate View Post
Starters are great for making sure your yeast is alive and happy before you add it to your wort.

If they're dead, you lost a 1 liter starter. oh well
Good point.

Also...
A starter gives the yeast time in a smaller environment to build up a good size colony. This makes it easier for them win the battle against any bad guys.

Compare the times for pitching into a starter first then adding that to the primary and pitching straight to primary. It will be about the same time till high Krausen in primary.

Notice, I said ABOUT. The wort temps of starter and primary will have a slight affect on both methods. Also starter makeup may affect it also.

 
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Old 04-19-2010, 05:21 PM   #10

One thing about liquid yeasts (and starters from them) is that they tend to produce better consistent results with respect to the way your beer tastes/smells. That's not to say that dry yeasts don't or that using liquid yeasts will always result in exactly the same beer. Our procedures have a lot to do with that as well.

 
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