Do liquid yeast need a starter?

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Collikunas

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We've brewed a half a dozen or so pre-measured brewkits (usually Brewers Best) and have started playing with clone recipes out of a recipe book and following them exactly. However, the Newcastle we brewed has been fermenting and the airlock is still actively bubbling after over three weeks and the Sam Adams Boston lager is super slow and we thought maybe inactive yeast.

Tasted the Newcastle today, tastes awful like a sweet yeasty mess and added more liquid yeast to the SA and still little fermentation going on.

We've been racking our brains about what is going on, and stumbled upon a hypothesis: the yeast in all the kits was dry yeast and now we're using liquid yeast and not making a starter. We've read contradicting reports to and not to make starters for the yeast. Any thoughts this could be the cause of our clone brew fails(and do you think they're already failed and drain worthy?)

Thanks!!
 

Gear101

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Yes and No, I have done both, but as of lately I have been making a big starter and saving some of the yeast back, rather that wash yeast at the end of the brew.
Some of the higher gravity beers you’ll need a start, but just yesterday I made a Hefe Beer and used a smack pack and never started it, but they are kind of their own starter, that really just wakes up the yeast.
 
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Collikunas

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So, two more questions:
1. The not delicious flavor of Newcastle, may still go away? Just give it more time you think?

2. If we wanted to brew an IPA today, should I grab dry yeast and then use the liquid with a starter next time I brew?

Thanks again!
 

MrManifesto

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Smack packs aren't starters. They give the yeast some nutrients but do nothing to give you a pitchable number. There's really no reason not to make some kind of starter and it's going to help you out with this kind of thing.
 

Gear101

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The Newcastle, that’s a long time to still be bubbling, have you taken a gravity reading?

As for the dry yeast, same thing, you can start (rehydrate) it so there is less lag time and strong fermentation or just pitch it dry.
 

Gear101

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Smack packs aren't starters. They give the yeast some nutrients but do nothing to give you a pitchable number. There's really no reason not to make some kind of starter and it's going to help you out with this kind of thing.
that is where the words "but they are kind of their own starter" come into play..
 

Golddiggie

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Wyeast states that if the batch OG is over 1.060 (for 5 gallons) you should make a starter. Many of us go a bit further than that and make one for pretty much everything we brew. I would suggest using the Mr. Malty site as a guide for needing a starter and the size to make. Many make a starter even if the OG of the batch is 1.040+, or even lower. I don't brew anything with an OG that low (at least not yet).

I typically make a 2-3L starter, using my stirplate, for my batches (6.5 gallons typically going into fermenter). I also use pure O2 to oxygenate my wort prior to pitching the yeast. This combination typically means my batch has active fermentation sign in under 12 hours, most of the time under 8 hours (no one can check on it earlier than that). My normal batches (OG under 1.075) are also completely done, and ready to be carbonated in about 4 weeks. Bigger brews get more time in the fermenter/primary. Such as the MO SMaSH I'm brewing today will get a month in fermenter (OG estimate is 1.068) and the big wee heavy (Wee Honey mkII) has been in primary for a month and will probably be in there for another month before I think about putting it on some oak (one of the few reasons I rack before going to keg).

Just remember, take SG samples and taste them (as it sounds like you're doing). Don't go to bottle/keg until the brew is actually ready. Also, if you used lager yeast for the SA clone, you probably want to follow that process.

Also, you typically smack the Wyeast packs and let them swell to proof the yeast. You're just making sure the yeast are still viable/alive in there in a sufficient enough count to at least ferment. Depending on how old the pack is, will alter your starter size. Hence the use of calculation tools/sites.
 

MrManifesto

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Gear101 said:
that is where the words "but they are kind of their own starter" come into play..
Yeah...but they aren't. The purpose of a starter is to grow cells, a smack pack provides a small amount of nutrients. I know it might sound like a small difference but a new brewer could read that and get the wrong idea. No offense.
 
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Collikunas

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Gear101 said:
The Newcastle, that’s a long time to still be bubbling, have you taken a gravity reading?

Yes today before we tasted it, getting close to the final.
 

solo103

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Try using white labs yeast . They make a good product. From what I read if your starting gravity is 1.060 then you should def make a starter (1000ml) for five gallons. As far as dry yeast I only used that for my first brew and switched to liquid (white lande) I have brewed over 50 batches with it and never once had a problem.
CHEERS
 

Golddiggie

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Gear101 said:
The Newcastle, that’s a long time to still be bubbling, have you taken a gravity reading?
Yes today before we tasted it, getting close to the final.
Don't assume that if/when it reaches the documented FG that it's actually at the batch FG... Take another sample/reading 3-4 days later to see if it's moved any. IF it's stable, and tastes ready, you should be safe to bottle/keg it up. If you let it go even longer between samples, the chances of catching a smaller/slower SG shift is greater. Thus preventing bottle bombs or over-carbonation.
 
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From what I read if your starting gravity is 1.060 then you should def make a starter (1000ml) for five gallons.
it's actually more like 1.028 where one vial/pack (70-100 bil cells) becomes an under pitch according to most pitch rate calcs. it's recommended that you make a starter whenever using liquid cultures to not only ensure viability but to grow enough new yeast to ensure proper pitch rates.

OP, search around on HBT for why proper pitch rates are an important part of brewing. IMO, pitching enough yeast and proper fermentation temps are at least as important as a good recipe when it comes to making good beer. without enough yeast and the right temps, the best recipe in the world can be made into bad beer.
 
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Collikunas

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We have been using the white lab strains. That's all the LHBS sells.

Thanks for all the info, we have lots of learning to do!

Sure hoping the two clones will turn out ok in the end!
 

Gear101

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Yeah...but they aren't. The purpose of a starter is to grow cells, a smack pack provides a small amount of nutrients. I know it might sound like a small difference but a new brewer could read that and get the wrong idea. No offense.
I see your point and that could be ture.. no biggy
 

beerman0001

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Both yeast manufactures state they have enough in their packs for a beer of 1.06. They say that is because of how pure their yeast is. You can not go by the industry standard with their product because it is not the same thing. But why not go ahead and make a starter its not going to hurt anything!! :drunk:
 
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