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Old 12-24-2013, 05:46 PM   #1
electrotype
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I'm going to make my first starter ever! For my first two batches, I used dry yeast (2 packs each time) and it worked well. But this time I'm using a liquid yeast and it seems it's better to make a starter for those.

Is a stir plate required to get a good starter?
If I do not have a stir plate, is making a starter still a good idea?
Does a stir plate really make a big difference?

Thanks!

 
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:50 PM   #2
theck
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I just started doing starters so no expert, but mine seem to do ok... I do the DME (1/2 cup, 2 cups water), boil for 10 mins, starsan mason jar and piece of foil, pour the DME into the jar, cool the DME to 60ish in an ice bath in sink, add yeast, put on foil and swirl when I walk past it. Eventually I'd like to get a stir plate but the last 7-8 starters I did seemed to do really well. I typically do it 2 days before pitching.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:51 PM   #3
FuzzeWuzze
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Save this link and always use it to answer your questions
http://www.yeastcalc.com/

Enter in your gravity, it will tell you how much yeast you need...then enter in your starters and method of agitation.

You can use this to play with it to see how big of a difference no stir plate vs intermittent shaking vs stir plate makes on any given starter. It does make quite a bit of difference, but that also can be mitigated a bit by shaking the thing to oxygenate it any time you walk by.

For example

No Starter: 100b cells
2L Starter No Touching: 200b cells
2L Starter Intermittent Shaking: 250b cells
2L Starter Stir Plate: 300b cells

If you need 300b cells, but with no stir plate, it just means you will have to do a second starter. You do your regular starter no shaking to get your 200b, then stick it in the fridge overnight and decant off all the liquid keeping as much yeast at the bottom as you can, then pour in some more chilled wort and let it multiply again...

Stir plates are nice because they are relatively cheap(except for the flask!), easy to DIY, give you maximum results, and saves time because your getting more cells out of each run you dont need to do as many stepped starters if your doing really big beers.

For example to get enough for a standard lager you'll need around 400b cells, without a stir plate thats 4 step starters, thats basically 8-9 days of planning ahead of brew day to have it ready and even then you arent even fully at 400b(380ish). Where with a stir plate you do 3 starters and are at nearly 500b.

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Old 12-24-2013, 05:53 PM   #4
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Use a yeast calculator and it will show you the difference in resulting yeast cell counts of stir plate vs no stir plate.

Stir plates are not mandatory at all, but they definitely help to produce much more yeast cells. Another option is to simply pick up the starter and swirl it every hour or so.

Don't forget, though, that you can easily build your own stir plate in an hour. Stuff like that is tons of fun, so worth it on its own.

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Old 12-24-2013, 05:55 PM   #5
theck
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Thanks for the yeast calculator! I gotta start using that.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:03 PM   #6
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Oh duh I just noticed that BeerSmith has the calculator too.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:10 PM   #7
electrotype
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Thanks for your help everybody.

Would a fermentation benefit from a big stir plate, if that existed?

Does all this starter process means it is good to shake the primary fermenter once in a while?

 
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:11 PM   #8
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Yea im not sure how up to date that is, honestly i find the step starter portion of YeastCalc so useful, much more than other tools like MrMalty or Beersmith having to do it manually.

 
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electrotype View Post
Thanks for your help everybody.

Would a fermentation benefit from a big stir plate, if that existed?

Does all this starter process means it is good to shake the primary fermenter once in a while?
The stir plate size doesnt matter it just needs to agitate the yeast and keep it in suspension. It DOES benefit from a larger starter. You will get more yeast out of a 2L starter than a 1L starter but less than a 5L starter....obviously.

If your doing 10G batches a 5L starter might make sense, if your doing 5g batches and arent just constantly making barley wine or something at > 1.1 sg you can get away with a 2L starter, 5L flasks are just ridiculously big and way overkill for most. I wouldnt waste money on a 1L flask, i did and found it was just too small, and a 2L flask is like an extra $5 or something...

But no, do not shake your beer. You should agitate it when you FIRST put it in before you pitch your yeast, a lot of people just shake their carboys/buckets to aerate, some use pumps or oxygen tanks and aeration stones to inject oxygen into the wort.

Shaking during a starter basically "ruins" the starter by oxygenating the hell out of it, it will be super stale tasting...but you dont care your not after the liquid, you should decant all of that off and only pitch your yeast. Stick it in the fridge for a day, it will all form a nice cake on the bottom, then slowly pour the liquid out until you start to see some of the yeast making an escape...leave a bit of liquid in there just enough to shake up the yeast and get them in suspension so you can pour them in!

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Old 12-24-2013, 06:18 PM   #10
electrotype
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzeWuzze View Post
Shaking during a starter basically "ruins" the starter by oxygenating the hell out of it, it will be super stale tasting...but you dont care your not after the liquid, you should decant all of that off and only pitch your yeast.
Got it, thanks!

 
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