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Old 05-10-2006, 01:29 PM   #1
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Default Starter?

What am I accomplishing by making a "starter"? I am assuming this is simply mixing a bit of wort with my yeast a few hours (day or so?) before brewing.

Am I thinking about it correctly?

What are some successful methods of making a starter?

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Old 05-10-2006, 01:51 PM   #2
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What a starter is for is multiplying yeast cells, so that you are pitching way more yeast cells than if you just pitched you smack pack or vial of yeast slurry.

A good basic starter is 2 oz DME boiled in 1 pint water. You can add a couple hops pellets if you like (supposedly this helps ward off infection--I doubt it really matters). That will give you a gravity of about 1.045. Boil, cool, pitch.

48 hours is a good amount. If your starter goes past high kresusen, you can pop in in the fridge. Bring it back to room temp before pitching. You can either pitch the whole thing, or pour or siphon off the beer and just pitch the yeast slurry.


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Old 05-10-2006, 03:30 PM   #3
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what you are acomplishing is dramatically shortening your lag time. the quicker you get your wort fermenting - the better off you'll be.

i never used to make starters arguing that the smackpack was a starter - and it is to a certain degree - but a 2000 ml starter will give you fermentation in a couple of hours instead of a day or or sometimes longer.

i have also noticed a cleaner taste when i started using yeast starters - i can't prove it and taste is subjective....but it seemed better
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Old 05-10-2006, 03:49 PM   #4
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The main benefit to using a starter for the brewer is reduced lag time. Lag time sucks ass, and reducing it is sweet. With a good starter pitched into well aerated wort you can cut the lag time down to <1 hour. Without one, you could be waiting anywhere from 8-48 hours.

There are several ways in which the beer will benefit. Reducing lag time benefits by keeping other nasty microbes from getting a foothold, and out multiplying the yeast and ruining (or at least tainting) the beer. Pitching a good amount also reduces the chances of many off flavors produced by underpitching. Good pitching rates also ensure the beer will fully ferment out, and not leave alot of risidual sweetness behind. (this is especially true of high gravity beers). There are some english strains also that like to flocculate or settle out rather quickly, which will leave a beer un-finished, unless adequately pitched.

There are other benefits, but i hope you get the point: Starters are good. No they are not neccessary, im sure many people make awesome, award winning beer without them, and the liquid yeast they sell now (white labs pitchables, and wyeast smack packs) are equvilent to a 1-2 pint starter anyway, but you can, and your beer can, always benefit from a starter.

when i make a starter i use white labs pitchables and 2 days prior to brewing i boil 2-3 qt h20 + 2/3-1 c. dme for ten minutes, cool to >75 aerate, pitch into 1 gallon glass jug with airlock, let sit for 48 hrs. (its just like a mini-beer, except i dont use hops, some do, some dont...)
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:18 PM   #5
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If after your starter ferments and the kraussen goes back down, would it be smart to boil up some more water and DME and pitch it in the growler to get it going again? Can you put it right in, or should you refrigerate, decant, then do it?
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:54 PM   #6
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If your starter ferments out before you are ready to use it, then put it in the fridge and take it out a few hrs before your ready to pitch and decant off most of the liquid. When ready to use it, shake it up to dislodge from the bottom and pitch. If your starter is at high krausen when ready to pitch just dump the whole thing in.
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Old 05-10-2006, 06:03 PM   #7
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Default Good Question!

Originally Posted by BrewstersMillions
What am I accomplishing by making a "starter"?
Hey there! Welcome to the forum! I had recently come back to the hobby and when I did this place was the first place I found on the net. You might have noticed that there seems to be a strong tendency here to suggest starters. Well I asked the same question... why.... never done one before and the brews came out great.

Well.... eh... what the hell you know... I'll try it .... why not... least it will give me something more to do brewing wise right? Well I was amazed! You know it used to take a good day before I saw a lot of activity... now with the starter things could start happening in a matter of hours.

So. In answer to your question of why... well.... it depends I suppose. If you use dry yeast (someone correct me if I'm wrong here) you don't actually need a starter as there are enough in it to get things on thier way quickly and you could even toss in two since they are so cheap. They got these smackpacks now that are large enough that you dont really need a starter as well.

So again... what's the big deal..... well... the main variety of today seems to be in vials of liquid yeast. There are a lot of varieties here and they seem to be very popular. So here you have the problem. The vials, if you have not seen them yet, as pretty small. With a lot less viable yeast cells then a dry package.... and they cost about 6ish bucks so tossing two in like a dry package does not make a lot of financial sense. So how do you go around this problem... well you make more of it ... lots more... how? You have a little fun the day before brew day and make out like an evil mad chemist and you make more.... in what is called a starter. Plain and simple.

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Old 05-10-2006, 06:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by GOD
They got these smackpacks now that are large enough that you dont really need a starter as well.
This is largely an academic discussion since we know that you can pitch the smackpack and get fermentation (I've done it), but I'll play devil's advocate here. The recommended pitching rate I've seen most often bandied about is ~200-250 million cells for 5g wort. The most you'll get from a smackpack (XL) or a White Labs vial is ~100 millions cells. So even with the largest smackpack you would be underpitching by 2-2.5x.

Another reason to pitch a large cellcount (via a starter) is that it may limit production of undesired esters.
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Old 05-11-2006, 02:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by brewhead
i have also noticed a cleaner taste when i started using yeast starters - i can't prove it and taste is subjective....but it seemed better
That is actually the main reason why I use staters:

Ester production has been linked to yeast growth. The more vigerously yeast grows, the more esters you will get. This means that you want a majority of the yeast growth to happen outside your wort, which is true when you make a starter and use only the produced yeast sediment to pitch your wort. Another thing is, that you actually don't want to short of a lag time, since this is an idication of virgerous yeast growth. In commercial lager brewing the pitching temp is actually below the fermentation temperature in order to avoid that the yeast is growing to fast. But this can only be done if you have a sufficient pitching rate. Otherwise the lag time is way to long and you may run into the infection problems that are usually avoided with a shorter lag time.


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