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Old 04-28-2013, 03:04 PM   #1
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Default How to make a starter for a high gravity beer?

Im brewing an American Barleywine with expected OG at 1.120. Due to the high gravity I could either pitch close to 5 packs of Wyeast ($45) or make a starter (which I've never done before). The Pitch-rate calculator I used said to pitch 2 packets in 5 liters of wort (1.040) or 1 pack in 12 liters. Does this sound right? It seems like a lot of starter wort. Say I pitched the one packet in 12 liters wort in my primary bucket. I wait 48 hours. Do I decant the wort off of the yeast? Is that really going to be enough yeast?


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Old 04-28-2013, 04:58 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by PorterHoarder
Im brewing an American Barleywine with expected OG at 1.120. Due to the high gravity I could either pitch close to 5 packs of Wyeast ($45) or make a starter (which I've never done before). The Pitch-rate calculator I used said to pitch 2 packets in 5 liters of wort (1.040) or 1 pack in 12 liters. Does this sound right? It seems like a lot of starter wort. Say I pitched the one packet in 12 liters wort in my primary bucket. I wait 48 hours. Do I decant the wort off of the yeast? Is that really going to be enough yeast?
For that large of starter, yes, decant. You do not want all that starter beer in your batch.

If you can crash the starter it will be easier to decant and yes, if you actively shake the starter frequently you should grow up to the proper cell count


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Old 04-28-2013, 05:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by PorterHoarder View Post
Im brewing an American Barleywine with expected OG at 1.120. Due to the high gravity I could either pitch close to 5 packs of Wyeast ($45) or make a starter (which I've never done before). The Pitch-rate calculator I used said to pitch 2 packets in 5 liters of wort (1.040) or 1 pack in 12 liters. Does this sound right? It seems like a lot of starter wort. Say I pitched the one packet in 12 liters wort in my primary bucket. I wait 48 hours. Do I decant the wort off of the yeast? Is that really going to be enough yeast?
I would probably give yourself more than 48 hours, especially if you want the yeast to settle out so you can decant.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:09 PM   #4
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Say I pitched the one packet in 12 liters wort in my primary bucket.
If you're doing that you might as well make a 3 gallon batch of a 1.040 ale and use the cake for your barley wine.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:43 PM   #5
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If you're doing that you might as well make a 3 gallon batch of a 1.040 ale and use the cake for your barley wine.
+1. I'd make a normal 5-gallon batch of 1.050 pale or amber with the same yeast and then use that whole cake for the barleywine.
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:35 PM   #6
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I took chicky and floyds advice and went ahead and brewed a Dirty Bastard Clone with Wyeast's 1728 Scottish Ale. I'm a few days away from racking this to secondary. I wondering if putting my barleywine (which has been tweaked to 1.125 og) overtop the old cake is a good idea. My LHBS guy told me to put my wort right on top of the cake. However I'm concerned that all the break below the yeast will give me off flavors. Its no more than the usual amount of hop break. The DB clone will be on the yeast for 2 weeks and I'm thinking 2-3 weeks for the barleywine (assuming fermentation is complete [i cant think of why it wouldn't be]) then rack to secondary til it clears out and bottle for 1yr+. This should work right?
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:38 AM   #7
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What was the OG on the Dirty Bastard clone? That's a high gravity beer is it not? You don't want to pitch onto a yeast cake from a high gravity beer as the yeast will be stressed out/tired/dead from fermenting a big beer.

As for your question about trub & break material, you can always wash the yeast to separate it out. But again, I wouldn't advise recycling yeast that fermented something that was high gravity.
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:51 AM   #8
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Ah shoot! The OG was 1.086. The one thing I didn't take away from BigFloyd was that I need it to be around 1.040. Makes sense. End up with a cleaner yeast cake. Do you think washing it would make the yeast suitable? Otherwise I'm thinking I'll have to wait another 2-3 weeks so I can brew another lighter starter beer.
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Old 06-11-2013, 06:01 AM   #9
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I wouldn't reuse yeast from batch above 1.070 OG, it is stressed from high gravity fermentation and probably mutated.
Next time you can make larger starter and pour some of it in sterilized jar for next usage.
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:28 PM   #10
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I punched your numbers into yeastcalc.com and you should be able, depending on the age of your yeast pack, to do an initial 2L starter with 2 more 2L steps and it should get you to a big enough colony. That way you don't have to worry about brewing a whole other batch and can do your barley wine sooner. I did this with a pretty big tripel a while back and it worked really well.


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