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View Poll Results: Do you use a starter
Yes, always 51 50.00%
No, never 11 10.78%
Sometimes (please specify when) 40 39.22%
Voters: 102. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-17-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
Jun 2010
Louisville, KY
Posts: 88
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

The duder at my LHBS told me starters are not necessary and not always a good idea but reading this place it seems like some of you swear by them. Where do you stand?
On deck: Pliny the Elder, Heather Ale
Fermenting: Strawberry Melomel, Imperial Belgian White, Pumpkin Ale
Carboy #1: Cream Ale
Carboy #2: Hoptoberfest
Carboy #3: Raspberry Melomel
Tap #1: Two Hearted Clone
Tap #2: Spiced Bourbon Stout
Tap #3: Raison D'Etre Clone
Bottled: Belgian Trippel, NB Farmhouse Saison Ale, Apfelwein, Duvel Clone, Oatmeal Stout, Joe's Ancient Orange Mead, JABM (Blackberry)

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Old 07-17-2010, 08:53 PM   #2
bad67z's Avatar
Feb 2009
Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 1,875
Liked 110 Times on 77 Posts

I have only brewed about 20 batches thus far and have used starter and o2 on 5 of my last 8,. There is quite a lot of data to support using a starter when your brewing higher gravity beers and/or using liquid yeast. IMHO pitching the correct amount of yeast cells and controlling fermentation temperatures has improved my finished product quite a bit.

Here is a link to a pitch rate calculator and some other excellent information.


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Old 07-17-2010, 09:04 PM   #3
nostalgia's Avatar
Feb 2008
Port Murray, NJ
Posts: 2,404
Liked 97 Times on 57 Posts

Sometimes: whenever I'm using liquid yeast. Dry yeast always gets pitched right into the beer.

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Old 07-17-2010, 09:17 PM   #4
Laughing_Gnome_Invisible's Avatar
Jan 2008
Posts: 12,251
Liked 698 Times on 513 Posts

I brew only ordinary bitter (Still) so I don't really need a starter. Dry yeast would do just as well. The cheap side of me likes to wash yeast and save a couple of bucks, but really, I just like the extra playtime with beer stuff.

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Old 07-17-2010, 09:25 PM   #5
JOHN51277's Avatar
Nov 2005
Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,019
Liked 12 Times on 6 Posts

I have never used a starter, but I now have the flask, and stir plate and will be using starters for higher OG beers.
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On Deck: Centennial Blonde, Midnight IIPA
Primary: SMaSH Citra/2 Row, KBS Clone
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Old 07-17-2010, 10:08 PM   #6
944play's Avatar
Jul 2008
Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 2,726
Liked 46 Times on 41 Posts

I avoid making starters by engineering my pipeline. I'll direct-pitch smaller, low-gravity batches, harvest the yeast, and repitch that in bigger beers.

For a strain I don't expect to reuse, I do make a starter. No starter for dry yeast.

+1 bad67z, the right amount of yeast and the right temp makes better beer.
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Old 07-17-2010, 11:01 PM   #7
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
Posts: 25,599
Liked 158 Times on 148 Posts

Only when I'm brewing a style that requires a liquid yeast, which isn't very often. 95% of the time, dry yeast does the trick.

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Old 07-17-2010, 11:46 PM   #8
Malticulous's Avatar
Aug 2008
St. George Utah
Posts: 4,146
Liked 72 Times on 57 Posts

For the first generation of liquid yeast and sometimes with old slurry I've had refrigerated for too long. I repitch unwashed slurry for a string of brews, even with dry yeast.

Some say not to repitch from dark beers to lighter ones or hoppy to less hoppy ones but frankly 1 cup (or less) to 5.5 gallons makes zero noticeable difference.

My last IPA I just scooped up yeast off of the top of a APA that was at high kraeusen. I was surprised how fast it took off.
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Old 07-17-2010, 11:49 PM   #9
Feb 2009
Alexandria, VA, USA
Posts: 2,057
Liked 31 Times on 27 Posts

Short answer: Unless I'm only using dry yeast, I basically always make a starter.

Long anser:
I nearly always use a starter when I'm brewing a beer that requires a liquid yeast, which is a little over half my beers--a single smack pack or vial is really an underpitch for almost anything except for very small milds.

40ish% of the time, dry yeast does the trick and I don't need a starter; even for a high grav beer, I'll normally pitch 2 packets of dry yeast rather than make a starter.

Several of my beers use commercial dregs, too; I'll make a little starter to, say, give the Orval dregs a head start before pitching them into a beer that needs some funk.

When I use a liquid yeast for something I brew often, I wash some and save it for future batches so I'm not rebuying $8 packs.

If it's convenient (ie there are 2 beers of varying gravity that I want to make around the same time that use the same yeast), I'll engineer the pipeline a bit--for instance, making a small starter for a scottish ale first, then using a part of that yeast cake from that in a big barleywine (using the whole thing would normally be a pretty big overpitch even for a 1.100 OG ale).

I have been thinking about not using a starter (or using a very small one) with my next hefeweizen, to enhance ester production.
On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
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Old 07-18-2010, 01:55 AM   #10
doctorRobert's Avatar
Apr 2010
Sharon, MA
Posts: 1,005
Liked 38 Times on 26 Posts

I've starter doing a starter lately, and I wish I didnt. My first wheat beer brew, delicious, without a starter. My last two with starters? Turned a german hefe into an american wheat, no flavor.

I will never use a starter on a wheat again.

other beers, to reduce esters, I can see a value. but, i use dry yeast for the beer i want a little yeast flavor.
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