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Old 04-10-2012, 04:43 PM   #1
KavDaven
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Default Need advice on Yeast Starter

I was going to brew up a NB Big Honkin' Stout this weekend but I was intimidated by the instructions calling for a starter using Wyeast NW Ale. So, I just bought two smack packs instead of one. I figure two smack packs should work.

In the meantime, I've been sifting through the bottomless cask of knowledge on yeast starters. Looks easy enough.

I think I'll put off the Stout until the following weekend, waiting on the 2nd smack pack anyway. This weekend I'll brew up the NB Cream Ale instead.

Here's where I need advice. I'm thinking about attempting the yeast starter on the Cream Ale now that I've read enough on the subject to be dangerous. BUT... Wyeast states that their liquid yeast is enough for 5 gallon batches of small to medium brews. So, if I was able to do a starter for the little brew of a Cream Ale wouldn't I end up over pitching? Is over pitching bad?

And, I'm not buying an erlenmyer flask and stir plate just yet. So, I thought I'd use a 1/2 Gallon Growler and foil using the walk by and stir method. That should give OK results right?


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Old 04-10-2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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Go to yeastcalc.com, plug in the numbers and you'll see what the starter size should be.


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Old 04-10-2012, 05:04 PM   #3
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I do starters all the time in growlers with foil and walk by and shake. Use the same method for harvesting yeast.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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You are going to have a hard time over pitching beer as a homebrewer. Most homebrewed beer is underpitched - even severely so.

As for starters being intimidating, relax. Starters are stupidly easy - way easier than making beer.

Boil 1/2 cup of DME in 2 cups of water for ten minutes. Cool and pitch the yeast. Shake it when you think about it.

Voila, a starter.

You'll see pics of cool, chemistry lab type beakers for starters. I'm sure that they are great, and I want one... but look what I have used for my last two starters - both of which gave me explosive fermentations.



Yep, that is a sanitized grocery store tea jug. Seriously, starters are THAT easy.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:25 PM   #5
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A good trade off between size and results is a 2L starter. One smack pack in 2L gives about 50 million cells per Liter which gives you about a 1.1 doubling factor. A smaller 1L starter will give you about a .5 doubling factor.

If you go with a plastic milk jug setup just run (2) 2L starters, one for each smack pack, that will yield about 450 billion cells which should be plenty for a medium gravity starter.

Use 200 gr of DME to make a 2L starter...the gravity should be about 1.030
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:44 PM   #6
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A Wyeast smack pack or a White Labs yeast vial each contain about 100 billion cells. Both companies claim that is sufficient and both companies are wrong. Proper pitching rates are really important to making quality brew and it's really easy to make starters. When I got started brewing, I found the following article really helpful:

http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php

Once you've read that, then use the calculator that site provides in order to calculate how big of a starter you need.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:21 PM   #7
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+1 on the Mr Malty, just use that and your set, tells you everything you need to know.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:33 PM   #8
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The only reason it seems to get more complicated is because of efficiency in culturing up cell counts.

Most standard gravity beers, won't even require too awful much of a starter, when you get into really high gravity and you are making do with one culture of yeast cells, and you have to start stepping starters (make starter, crash, decant, make bigger starter, repeat) in order to get to your pitching cell counts, that is when you see people using those beakers and such.

Yeasties love Oxygen, my first three starters I just shook them every time I thought about it randomly, it worked well, then I made a stir plate using some great instructions here, or kind of using them. That was just to prevent me from having to go through quite as many steps because it is just about as much more effective than shaking as shaking is than letting sit still.

Most programs BeerSmith, Mr Malty, Jamil's yeast calculator all well tell you about how many cells you need, and about what size starter you need, most of them ask how you will be oxygenating, and shaking works just fine.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhokie View Post
Yeasties love Oxygen, my first three starters I just shook them every time I thought about it randomly, it worked well, then I made a stir plate using some great instructions here, or kind of using them. That was just to prevent me from having to go through quite as many steps because it is just about as much more effective than shaking as shaking is than letting sit still.
You made a stir plate? How?

@homebrewdad - You just reminded me to keep it simple. Thank you.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KavDaven View Post
@homebrewdad - You just reminded me to keep it simple. Thank you.
No worries. I love get detailed on tasks... but to start with, just figure out the basics.


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