Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Does my yeast packet with built in starter, need a starter?
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:43 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by thegerm

The only time I've heard JZ advocate not making a starter and just pitching a single vial or smackpack is for milds, ordinary bitters and 60 shillings. And even that was with the caveat that the yeast pack was fresh.
Even for those low alcohol beers I usually get a starter going right before I brew to give it a 8 hour head start.

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Old 01-16-2012, 12:07 PM   #32
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Can a "junior member" chime in here? I've read debates on this matter on other forums, and you guys certainly seem like dedicated proficient brewers. In my brewing, I haven't seen any of the problems ascociated with "under pitching". I do however use yeast nutrient and O2 injection in all my brews after being rapidly chilled. They kick off quickly and ferment down to the expected attenuation with "smack packs". They taste great; I know I know, subjective and you'll argue they'd be even better with a starter! My point is a properly prepared wort IS A STARTER! The little critters do their thing in the presence of well aerated, nutrition rich wort. This is underemphasized in discussions about starters in my opinion. Pitch a giant starter into a wort that's just beeen shaken in the carboy for a few minutes for aeration with no nutrients added and you'll still have fermentation issues. Fascinating hobby aside, brewing is a pretty time consuming thing. My brew days can easily exceed 5 hours which isn't popular with the wife and kids. If I can save some time and hastle, I'm all for it. Sorry if that's some sort of blasphemy!!



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I think you have some more studying to do. A beer is NOT A STARTER. (Unless you are going to decant it and pitch the yeast in a fresh batch) If you underpitch the yeast have to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy reproducing to increase the cell counts to what is sufficient to ferment the wort. This stresses the yeast and may lead to off flavors.

To restate what has been said ad nauseum (sp.) You can ferment a good beer with a smackpack/vial. You most likely will make a BETTER beer by making a starter.

"My brew days can easily exceed 5 hours which isn't popular with the wife and kids. If I can save some time and hastle, I'm all for it."

Making a starter will not increase the time of brew day at all! The starter would be made prior to brew day. It takes an hour or so a couple of days before brew day.


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Old 01-16-2012, 05:44 PM   #33
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Making a starter will not increase the time of brew day at all! The starter would be made prior to brew day. It takes an hour or so a couple of days before brew day.
And really can be faster than that if you go with the whole process of pressure canning a bunch of wort at one time. Then the actual process of making any individual starter takes minutes.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:57 PM   #34
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As an FYI, a Wyeast propagator pack is designed to inoculate 5 gallons of standard ale wort with slightly less than 6 million cells per milliliter of wort. This is consistent with rates indicated by Hough, Briggs et al., Malting and Brewing Science, volume 2.
I'm afraid that is well known to be an over-simplification. It is certainly inconsistent with the findings of Bamforth and other, more modern brewing scientists (don't forget that resource is 20+ years old), as well as decades of practical brewing experience.

"6 million cells per milliliter of wort" might be perfectly all right in a narrow set of circumstances, but not as a standard. The brewery standard "rule of thumb" is one million cells per ml of wort per degree Plato. 6M/ml is appropriate for a beer of 6P, or SG 1.024. I think no one can argue that 1.024 is an appropriate OG for "standard ale".

JZ and other well-known brewing luminaries have proved, and I have also found, through instrumental observation and experimentation that the yeast companies' claims of "pitchable" are at best optimistic. If you're not going to believe brewing scientists, brewing luminaries, or me - a professional brewer and brewery consultant - I don't blame you, though I'll argue you're taking an "appeal to authority" denial a bit too far. All you need to prove it yourself is a microscope, a haemocytometer and some methylene blue stain, which will permit you to do your own cell counts on random samples of yeast packets. Then you can analyze test ferments based on the manufacturer-recommended technique of direct pitching, as compared to a control of ferments inoculated with "rule of thumb" cell-count samples. You'll arrive at the same important observation as we did: No package of liquid yeast presently available to the homebrew market contains enough viable, active yeast to properly inoculate a reasonable-strength wort in a standard 5 US gallon brew length.

As you note, one can achieve a ferment if you just pitch a smack-pack. However, that's so far from best brewing practice as to be laughably naive. It is exactly equivalent to the old advice of just pitching "brewer's yeast"; it is advice/technique that's years out of date.

It's impossible for me to fathom that the same people who obsess over ounces of grain, water chemistry and the potential AA% IBU calculations of hops will just chuck in a smack-pack and think they're doing something not half-arsed. We are engaged in a hobby with the intent of making the best possible product; deliberately engaging in practices which prevent us from reliably achieving that goal can be politely described as self-defeating. If one is going to spend hours and lots of money on this hobby, one is an idiot if he doesn't make every possible effort to maximize the result of that work and expenditure.

The only way to RDWHAHB is to follow best practices whenever possible.

Bob
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:03 PM   #35
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I must admit that I just tossed in a smack pack for years… this was honestly just a step I overlooked in the beginning. I wasn’t brewing what one would consider “big beers”, and because I never made a “bad beer” I never really gave it much thought. My beers always turned out good and my friends seemed to enjoy them well enough to drain my kegs at a rapid rate. But then as I started to grow as a brewer and concerned myself more with controlling all the controllables I learned that making a starter simply produced a superior product even in the “small beers”. As my friends have become interested in brewing it’s one of the first things I teach them about because the benefit to the end product far outweighs the process of learning how to do it; its one of the simplest yet most effective ways to make your beer better.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:19 PM   #36
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This message has been deleted by Yooper. Reason: nothing of value added
I think that "point taken" would have been a better reason. Bob changing the language in his post shows that there was value.

Now you can delete this too.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:15 AM   #37
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I? I've changed nothing. Except perhaps to add a thought; I can't remember if I've edited it or not.

I certainly didn't see whatever it was you added, whether it was of value or not, and if I had seen it, I sincerely doubt it would have made me scamper off to change something I've written.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:19 AM   #38
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I think that "point taken" would have been a better reason. Bob changing the language in his post shows that there was value.

Now you can delete this too.
Any edited posts show "edited at (time)" under them. That is not an edited post.

But anytime someone just posts to be sarcastic or posts inane banter in the technical forums, they will be deleted.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:34 AM   #39
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If you want to make better beer, then make a starter and pitch the appropriate cell count. Why people come to a forum about beer and discourage people from doing one of the most effective techniques towards making better beer boggles me.
i couldn't agree more. making a starter is common practice, and many of us who make starters for every beer do it because we noticed a marked improvement in our beers when pitching appropriate amounts of yeast (i.e. mrmalty's or others pitch rate calcs) when i first started brewing i'd simply pitch a smack pack (or two for bigger beers) and i made good beer. as i learned more about yeast, i started making starters and paying attention to pitch rates, and my beer showed it. it went from good beer to great beer with that simple change in how i viewed the use of yeast.
to make a batch of beer, no, it's not necessary to make a starter. but if you really want to make great beer, pitch rates and fermentation temps are as crucial as a solid recipe, if not more so, IMO.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:48 AM   #40
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One thing that may help people is if someone can better explain how mr malty still tells them to use 2 packs while making a starter. I first thought that was the whole point of making a starter to not to have to use multiple packs of yeast and save some $$$.


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