I am confused about starters and starter calculators. - Home Brew Forums
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:14 PM   #1
natewv
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Jan 2011
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When people say "1L starter" what the hell are they talking about? I have a stir plate and a 1Lflask. I wish I had a bigger flask but I don't.

When I read "how to make a starter" threads or the Wiki I feel like I have always been told to use 2 cups of water with 1/2 a cup of DME. That's like a 300ml starter.

When I go to yeastcalc, I am asked for my "starter volume" (mr. malty just says I need a 1 L starter, usually). What does that mean? There's the stepping option on yeastcalc, which makes sense, but I don't understand how "big" my starter needs to be. I just feel like the calculators are nice and all, but they don't complete the circle and actually tell yo uhow to do it. For example yeastcalc says mix the "appropriate" amount of water and DME...why would tat be a user-defined value?

I guess what I'm asking, is given my equipment, let's say I want to make a starter for a 1.6 or so 5.25G ale. I'll use yeastcalc, I guess I can step it, but I haven't really been able to determine what "size" I need to start with that won't hurt the yeast. If I need to step it, I will, I just don't see any direction. What am I missing?



 
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:21 PM   #2
weirdboy
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Here's an easy rule of thumb:

You need 100g DME per 1L of starter you intend to make.


So, put 100g of DME into your flask, then fill it up with cold water up to the 600ml mark or so, boil it for a bit, then top it off with sanitized water to the 1L mark. You can, of course, just fill it to the 1L mark before you boil, but it's easy to get boilovers that way unless you're careful.


If you are looking to step up a starter, a good rule of thumb is to double the size every step.



 
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:24 PM   #3
peanasky
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Here's what I do, it may not be exactly equivalent, but it seems to work for me:

When I'm told I need a 1L starter, you can essentially do 2 500mL starters. Make a 500mL starter, let it finish, cold-crash (in the fridge), decant the old start liquid off leaving yeast behind, and then use that in a new 500mL starter.

As for the SG of the starter, that more depends on your recipe and the age/condition of the yeast. The older/smaller amount of yeast you have, you want to start off with a lower SG on the first round, then higher on the second. Also, a bigger beer will need more yeast, so you may have to do a few extra "rounds" or "step-ups".

Edit - or do what weirdboy said to get your 1L starter

 
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:27 PM   #4
beertroll
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A 1L starter is 1 liter of ~1.035 wort. From a typical White Labs or Wyeast package, you probably want to limit your first step to about 1L. Some people go straight to a big 2-4L starter successfully, but I've seen quite a few good sources recommend against making a jump like that. I believe the standard practice for stepping up is to double your starter size with each step.

Generally, you shouldn't need to make huge starters unless you're really brewing a big beer. For a 1.060 5gal batch, 1L should be plenty.

 
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:31 PM   #5
weirdboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peanasky View Post
Here's what I do, it may not be exactly equivalent, but it seems to work for me:

When I'm told I need a 1L starter, you can essentially do 2 500mL starters. Make a 500mL starter, let it finish, cold-crash (in the fridge), decant the old start liquid off leaving yeast behind, and then use that in a new 500mL starter.
Don't do that. It doesn't work like you think it does. You may get a few new viable cells, but for the most part it is a complete waste of effort unless you actually expand the volume of wort the yeast have to work with. The yeast grow to a sufficient density occupy that volume of wort, so decanting and adding more wort isn't going to increase the amount of viable cells.

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Old 03-18-2013, 05:35 PM   #6
Denny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beertroll View Post
A 1L starter is 1 liter of ~1.035 wort. From a typical White Labs or Wyeast package, you probably want to limit your first step to about 1L. Some people go straight to a big 2-4L starter successfully, but I've seen quite a few good sources recommend against making a jump like that. I believe the standard practice for stepping up is to double your starter size with each step.
Yeast manufacturers claim that a vial or smackpack is good for 5 gal. of 1.050 wort. While we all doubt that, they're certainly fine for 3 qt. of 1.035 wort. My own experience over hundreds of batches bears that out.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:37 PM   #7
peanasky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
Don't do that. It doesn't work like you think it does. You may get a few new viable cells, but for the most part it is a complete waste of effort unless you actually expand the volume of wort the yeast have to work with. The yeast grow to a sufficient density occupy that volume of wort, so decanting and adding more wort isn't going to increase the amount of viable cells.
Well then, thank you. Learn something new everyday

 
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:42 PM   #8
MagicSmoker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beertroll View Post
...From a typical White Labs or Wyeast package, you probably want to limit your first step to about 1L. Some people go straight to a big 2-4L starter successfully, but I've seen quite a few good sources recommend against making a jump like that....
Yeah, I've seen this recommendation a bunch of times, too, but it doesn't make sense to me. After all, a single package of liquid yeast is supposed to provide enough cells to ferment 2-2.5gal of wort, and I'd be willing to bet that everyone here has successfully made 5gal. of beer with just one smack pack or vial, so how come the same amount of yeast can't handle more than a 1-2L starter?!?

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Old 03-18-2013, 05:46 PM   #9
BobbiLynn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peanasky View Post
Well then, thank you. Learn something new everyday
+1 to this. Clicked on this topic because I am confused too. Thanks in advance for any and all additional info and info thus far.

 
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:54 PM   #10
natewv
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Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
Here's an easy rule of thumb:

You need 100g DME per 1L of starter you intend to make.


So, put 100g of DME into your flask, then fill it up with cold water up to the 600ml mark or so, boil it for a bit, then top it off with sanitized water to the 1L mark. You can, of course, just fill it to the 1L mark before you boil, but it's easy to get boilovers that way unless you're careful.

I'm going to just use a regular pot to boil and use the flask for the stir plate.

So what you are saying is a 1 L starter is made with approximately 1 L of wort. However if I were to cold crash and decant the starter wort...that 100 ml or whatever of slurry is equivalent to 1 L of wort?



 
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