Do I need to do a starter if I am using a wyeast smack pack

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redneckbeagle

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Do I need to do a starter if I am using a wyeast smack pack for a 5 gallon batch or a dry yeast packet of a 5 gallon batch?

It will still ferment, but will take a little longer to start correct?

Just wondering why I am going to the trouble!
 

Choguy03

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I think you should be alright, but a starter would give you a quicker fermentation. Depending on the beer you are making stressing the yeast could be what you want or could give you flavors that you don't want, but I wouldn't worry about that. Good luck with the brew. :tank:

Edit: Dry yeast usually has plenty of cells to start a good fermentation. I didn't read the whole post well enough.
 

k1v1116

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a large (125ml) wyeast smack pack should be ok and dry yeast should never be made into a starter. but for any high gravity beers or smaller liquid yeast packs a starter is the best idea.
 

surfbrewer

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That is basically correct. You can pitch a smack pack or a WL vial and they will eventually start. Although, you will most likely have extended lag times which opens you up to more potential problems. Ideally you want to get active fermentation as soon as possible.

With a starter you increase your cell count which will make it easier for the yeast to adjust to their new environment. There are other reasons that smarter people than me can give you. But, IMO, it is worth taking the extra time and effort to build one up. I have certainly had better results from by beers since using starters.

Cheers
 

Brew-boy

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No you do not need it to make a beer. A Great beer now I would say yes you need a starter if using liquid yeast. I think liquid yeast should always be used when possible if it is in the budget. Big gravity beers you will need a big healthy cell count so they can do there job properly. I have made many of beers with dry yeast and there were fine but I prefer the liquid. Sure it will ferment but for how far well that depends on the health of the yeast and your gravity. Starters are really easy and fun do in my opinion it is one of those next steps are you grow with your brewing experience. I usually make 1500-2000-4000ml starters depending on the gravity of the wort and it is only about and hour or so of mine time. :mug:
 

JacobInIndy

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I made my first starter, a full three days before the brew, and I had a thick krausen with heavy airlock activity within 5 hours.

It was amazing. Do it.
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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Do I need to do a starter if I am using a wyeast smack pack for a 5 gallon batch or a dry yeast packet of a 5 gallon batch?

It will still ferment, but will take a little longer to start correct?

Just wondering why I am going to the trouble!
It depends is the answer. For an ale under 1.045 or so with a pack within one month of its manufacture date, a starter is probably not needed (although Mr. Malty's web site would disagree). For dry, you could probably go to 1.060 on an ale without a starter with no issues. For lagers, I would always make a starter.

I started making starters for all of my beers a few years back and it made a noticeable difference. The first 24 hours of fermentation will have lasting effects on the quality of your beer. To get active fermentation quickly, I started my fermentations for ales at 70-72F ambient then dropped them down after they got active. That takes the yeast out of its optimal zone at the point when they are doing the most work. Plus, when the yeast is really active, it can generate 5-8F of extra heat (I think Bobby M did some measurements to confirm). My beer was always decent, but never great. IMHO, the best thing to do is start the wort at the bottom end of the yeast's optimal temp range to compensate for the extra heat it will generate. Being at a lower temp, it will start slower so you need a higher yeast count to start (the reason I do starters on every batch now).
 

Ridemywideglide

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I've done 4 brews well above 1060 with no starter-dry yeast..
The last, AHS Chocolate Raspberry Stout, Dry Muntons Ale Yeast ($1.19 a pack) took it form 1.079 to 1.031 in 4 days.

I'm gonna try to wash some Wyeast from the Cheese VCC Ale this time around, but I'm starting to think if I can't afford the $6 for liquid yeast, I shouldn't be spending $40 on grains and adjuncts, nor the extra $$$ for the nice brew equip's...
 

BrosBrew

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I've done 4 brews well above 1060 with no starter-dry yeast..
The last, AHS Chocolate Raspberry Stout, Dry Muntons Ale Yeast ($1.19 a pack) took it form 1.079 to 1.031 in 4 days.

I'm gonna try to wash some Wyeast from the Cheese VCC Ale this time around, but I'm starting to think if I can't afford the $6 for liquid yeast, I shouldn't be spending $40 on grains and adjuncts, nor the extra $$$ for the nice brew equip's...
How low did your stout go to? I'm doing one now with relatively the same SG so I'd hope I could get lower than .031.
 

GunnerMan

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a large (125ml) wyeast smack pack should be ok and dry yeast should never be made into a starter. but for any high gravity beers or smaller liquid yeast packs a starter is the best idea.
I pitched oen of these straight in(no starter) and it started fermenting vigourously in about 10 hours.
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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I've done 4 brews well above 1060 with no starter-dry yeast..
The last, AHS Chocolate Raspberry Stout, Dry Muntons Ale Yeast ($1.19 a pack) took it form 1.079 to 1.031 in 4 days.

I'm gonna try to wash some Wyeast from the Cheese VCC Ale this time around, but I'm starting to think if I can't afford the $6 for liquid yeast, I shouldn't be spending $40 on grains and adjuncts, nor the extra $$$ for the nice brew equip's...
I'm not saying you have to use a starter and you can still make decent beer without one. But, having made beer for 8 years with no starters and 2 years with, I will tell you that most of the beers I have made both before and after starter use (identical recipes) have benefited from a starter. Dry yeasts tend to be better off as you are experiencing because the count in a packet is really high - more than what is found in a smack pack.
The 1079 to 1031 drop in 4 days is about right - half way in about 3 days for normal ales. But anything faster would worry me - fast fermentations usually mean hot fermentations (fruity/estery). Wouldn't be the worst thing in a fruit beer or certain other styles. When it comes to fermentation, you want them to kick off quickly to keep bacteria from getting a foothold, but from that point, slower fermentations generally make better beers. And according to Jamil, the best way to get a good yeast count that kicks off quick yet produces a smooth, controlled fermentation is to start with a ton of yeast (ie. make a starter) and not try to stress the yeast by making them over-multiply in the wort.
 

Evan!

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And according to Jamil, the best way to get a good yeast count that kicks off quick yet produces a smooth, controlled fermentation is to start with a ton of yeast (ie. make a starter) and not try to stress the yeast by making them over-multiply in the wort.
That's more important than lag times, really. People stress way too much about getting the yeast started fast to ward off any potential competitor organisms---but in all my batches, the ones with long lag times have never had any infection problem.

It's more about overall yeast health and vitality, and putting as little stress on the yeast, as stress=off-flavors, typically. Of course, a big culture of healthy yeast typically goes hand-in-hand with short lag times, but that's just the result, not the goal.

Honestly, I wouldn't use liquid yeast without a starter unless you have multiple packs or it's a 1.030 OG beer. That's just me, though. But like Bearcat, I get the best results when I make a starter, which is always...:D
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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31 was it.. I hoped it would get lower, but after 2 weeks in primary I called it. :mug:
1.031 from a 1.079 SG? I would repitch - it is definitely not done unless you have a few pounds of lactose in there. That is only 61% attenuation. If you are talking about those smaller Munton's packs that are 5 or 6 grams, that would explain it. 1.079 is a pretty high SG for that yeast and for that small of a quantity. Two packs would be better. The yeast probably got stressed and finished early. Fortunately, in a Rasberry stout, there is enough going on there to help cover off flavors from pushing the yeast too hard. Problem is it will be pretty sweet at only 61% attenuation - either that or there was a measurement error somewhere. That beer should finish at 1.020 to 1.022.
 
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redneckbeagle

redneckbeagle

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The reason I asked: Since I started All Grain brewing, I am trying to figure out a step that I can eliminate to speed things up a little. I have done it both ways and really have not seen a noticeable different!!!!!

Oops I said ALL GRAIN, am I in the correct forum!!!! Ha!!!
 

Ridemywideglide

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1.031 from a 1.079 SG? I would repitch - it is definitely not done unless you have a few pounds of lactose in there. That is only 61% attenuation. If you are talking about those smaller Munton's packs that are 5 or 6 grams, that would explain it. 1.079 is a pretty high SG for that yeast and for that small of a quantity. Two packs would be better. The yeast probably got stressed and finished early. Fortunately, in a Rasberry stout, there is enough going on there to help cover off flavors from pushing the yeast too hard. Problem is it will be pretty sweet at only 61% attenuation - either that or there was a measurement error somewhere. That beer should finish at 1.020 to 1.022.
No lactose, just 4lb addition of dark extract to the 7 amber in stock trim.
I did use 2 packs of Muntons. It's in bottles now so it's a bit late to be repitching. It's not all that sweet, been carbing for a little over a week now.
I'm going to try a starter on the next batch (another stab at Cheeze's VCC ale) but from what I'm reading here, with using a pound or so of DME for every step up, and doing a couple of step ups, the washing etc., I'm not seeing how that's any cheaper than a $6 smack pack when you toss in your time making a 2 or 3 step starter. I guess it's all for yeast viability instead of savings???
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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No lactose, just 4lb addition of dark extract to the 7 amber in stock trim.
I did use 2 packs of Muntons. It's in bottles now so it's a bit late to be repitching. It's not all that sweet, been carbing for a little over a week now.
I'm going to try a starter on the next batch (another stab at Cheeze's VCC ale) but from what I'm reading here, with using a pound or so of DME for every step up, and doing a couple of step ups, the washing etc., I'm not seeing how that's any cheaper than a $6 smack pack when you toss in your time making a 2 or 3 step starter. I guess it's all for yeast viability instead of savings???
I do a single step starter at 10:1. Usually around 120g of DME then fill the flask to 1200ml with water and lightly boil. I think that is only about 4 ounces of DME. Then again, I use a stir plate (great series of posts on how to make one cheap), so I can get away with a much smaller starter to get the same yeast count as someone doing a 3L starter and just letting it sit.
 

Chad

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Pounds of DME? The standard formula is six ounces (by weight) of DME to two quarts of water. Either pitch the whole starter at high krauesen (12-18 hours) or let it ferment out completely, refrigerate and pour off the starter beer before pitching the yeast.

Jamil Zainasheff has a very good article, Fourteen Essential Questions About Starters, that covers the topic in detail.

Chad
 

ohiobrewtus

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I always make a starter with liquid yeast unless I'm doing something 1.040ish or lower.

Listen to Bearcat, he's an engineer, and engineers are always right. :D
 

Tonedef131

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I only use a starter in three situations.
  • OG over 1.065
  • resusing a harvested yeast (to make sure it is still viable)
  • brewing a lager
Otherwise a smack pack or WL vial have about the perfect amount of yeast for a 5 gallon batch.
 

zacster

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I used a smackpack with a high gravity beer 1.075 to start. I did not make a starter and had absolutely no problem. The FG was 1.015. I was even a little doubtful the yeast was good as it shipped during a heat wave. But once I popped the inside pack, the package swelled as it should and I had good activity by next morning.
 

flyangler18

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Using a starter to test viability is just a good habit to get into, especially on those high gravity beers.
 

Choguy03

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Using a starter is not to test for viability, but to increase the yeast count to allow for a less stressful fermentation for the yeast. This will give you a clean and expected fermentation. Re hydrating on the other hand is for testing the viability of dry yeast.
 

flyangler18

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Using a starter is not to test for viability, but to increase the yeast count to allow for a less stressful fermentation for the yeast. This will give you a clean and expected fermentation.
Agreed- the primary reason for making a starter is to increase cell count, but can also be a good viability test (particularly if the yeast was warm upon arrival from shipping, etc.)

That said, I didn't make starters for my first two AG batches- but now do it every time.
 

Choguy03

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Agreed- the primary reason for making a starter is to increase cell count, but can also be a good viability test (particularly if the yeast was warm upon arrival from shipping, etc.)

That said, I didn't make starters for my first two AG batches- but now do it every time.
It's nice having another Polack around here!

Dobry wieczor
 

paul_h

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The whole point of the smack pack is to test viability. Break the nutrient pack, and if it swells up, the yeast is viable. How healthy? Who knows, it's just a packaging solution to let you know the yeast hasn't been totally nuked on the journey from Wyeast to your doorstep.
But if it swells, you know it should be able to do a 20L brew with a ~1040 OG and don't need to make a starter to get fermentation. Starters are a good idea for higher gravity beers and to increase cell numbers of course, which is a good idea if you have the time and planning..

I didn't bother with mine it I didn't plan to do any brews for a while, so it was a spur of the moment thing. It took off quickly and I have a 2" dried krausen ring because it was very active for a week.
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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But if it swells, you know it should be able to do a 20L brew with a ~1040 OG and don't need to make a starter to get fermentation.
You will get fermentation, but not necessarily good fermentation. I think the key for me is not just getting it to ferment, but to make better beer and that means a controlled fermentation. A smack pack that is 9 weeks old will swell after smacking, but it will have half the yeast count of a new pack. Will it ferment a 5 gallon batch at 1.040? Sure, but you are putting the yeast under much more stress and producing off flavors. Maybe not enough to make the beer nasty tasting, but it is not its best either. FWIW, I make a starter every time now and my beers (which I always thought were good and have placed a few times in competition) have made a noticeable improvement without really changing anything else significantly (a 37 and 40.5 in regionals at AHA this year).

Listen to Bearcat, he's an engineer, and engineers are always right. :D
Yea, right enough that I got out of engineering and have a job in marketing now. :D Now I am just a beer engineer.
 

Small_Batch

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I am making a high OG IPA, ~1.085 estimated and forgot to make a starter. I have one Wyeast British Ale II smack pack, & just started the 60min boil. With tomorrow being sunday (Homebrew store closed) and me flying to Denver for a week for business tomorrow as well, I have come up with a few options. Any suggestions? I'd hate to waste this batch! Comments please!
1) F it, pitch 1/3 the yeast needed.
2) SANITIZE the hell out of my carboy, put in fermentation box, wait until next week to make the starter when I get back, and do it right.
3) I do happen to have 5g of Lalvin EC-1118 champagne yeast. Try out a Frankenstein combo beer, champagne yeast mix??
4) Others? I'd really appreciate some help.

cheers,
 
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