Dry lager yeast: should I make a starter?

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lumpher

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This argument is about as pointless as a "discussion" on religion or politics. We each have our ways because they work for us. Take every point expressed here with a grain of salt, and make a starter or not. They both work.
 

Smudgey

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YEAST: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by Chris White and Zamil Zainasheff

"Another case where you normally do not want to make a starter is with dry yeast. Dry yeast is inexpensive, and it is usually cheaper, easier, and safer to buy more dry yeast than to make a large starter. Many experts suggest that placing dry yeast in a starter just depletes the cell reserves that the yeast manufacturer tries to build into their product. For dry yeast, do a proper rehydration in tap water: do not make a starter."
 
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from the book Yeast (copyright 2010) said:
For dry yeast, do a proper rehydration in tap water: do not make a starter."

... but
... if one decides that dry yeast is too expensive and
... if one trusts yeasts lab / provider web sites for good starting points:
... in 2022 we have this as an option
...

1656849656773.png

(link to PDF).
 

McMullan

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This argument is about as pointless as a "discussion" on religion or politics. We each have our ways because they work for us. Take every point expressed here with a grain of salt, and make a starter or not. They both work.
Unlike religion and politics it's quite straightforward to determine what actually works better when pitching yeast. Very easy to control for our biases and opinions. Those who refuse to accept making a starter with dry yeast is better believe in something else, which they're entitled to do, of course. Not everyone's prepared to invest in more time and effort. Why should they? It boils down to a personal choice. For others the fun of brewing is about the challenge of continuous improvement and gaining knowledge to better understand.
 

AZ Maverick

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I have been brewing for 25 years.
I used to not make a starter with dry yeast, but when I finally started doing lagers I also started making starters with dry yeast.
Now I make starters with dry yeast all the time, for ales or lagers.
My experience is that I get better, more reliable, and more attenuation when I make starters with dry yeast.
I can't tell any difference in flavor at all.
I guess others may think it's not necessary or just flat wrong, and to each their own - but I'm gonna keep making starters... :)
 

tennesseean_87

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That's a starter batch, technically speaking. About 1g/L wort. That potentially translates into about 3 big starters from one pack of dry yeast 🤘
Right, but you get to drink it and don't spend the time and money on multiple stepped starters.

Another thing I generally try to do is brew a series with using the slurry to repitch. Session steam-->5% lager-->strong lager. Usually I'll do some sort of lawnmower beer or something, then a pils, helles, schwarz, Penn porter, and then go for a dopplebock, baltic porter, etc. with the yeastcake.
 

McMullan

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Right, but you get to drink it and don't spend the time and money on multiple stepped starters.

Another thing I generally try to do is brew a series with using the slurry to repitch. Session steam-->5% lager-->strong lager. Usually I'll do some sort of lawnmower beer or something, then a pils, helles, schwarz, Penn porter, and then go for a dopplebock, baltic porter, etc. with the yeastcake.
Starters, stepped or not, are a little bit like making a pot of tea. Very easy. Minimal hands-on time. They don't cost much either, if you make a little extra wort on brew day. Store it. Use it when needed. An uncle called 'Bob' 🤘
 

moreb33rplz

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It doesn't work for me. And I've been doing valid comparisons in my brewing environment for several months now, specifically to assess the performance of dry lager yeast. I'm pretty confident the advice I offer (to the interested) is sound enough to be offered in the first place. 🤷
What do you think is better about making a starter vs dry pitching?
 

Dland

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Right, but you get to drink it and don't spend the time and money on multiple stepped starters.

Another thing I generally try to do is brew a series with using the slurry to repitch. Session steam-->5% lager-->strong lager. Usually I'll do some sort of lawnmower beer or something, then a pils, helles, schwarz, Penn porter, and then go for a dopplebock, baltic porter, etc. with the yeastcake.

I dry pitch first in series, and then do not even re pitch slurry, just leave a quart of fresh yeasty beer in fermentor. I also don't bother to step the gravities. I've run the same initial pitch cone to cone, or continuous fermentation, for up to 9 batches now between cleaning fermentor and starting a new yeast. I'm not sure how well this would work without a conical with bottom dump though, I do at least two trub dumps for every cone to cone batch.

But when brewing less frequently, I always only dry pitch now, and have never had a problem.

That said, I kind of feel silly responding to another thread on this subject, the poor horse has been dead for some time now, and people just keep beating it.

Honestly, I'm just killing time until I'll allow myself a first beer, eighteen minutes to go....
 

McMullan

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What do you think is better about making a starter vs dry pitching?
More viable cells programmed to ferment wort. Compared with dry yeast, programmed to adapt to commercial drying conditions. Basic biology really.

Edit: pitching dry lager yeast I get unbalanced beers with an almost phenol off flavour mixed with a weird 'ironed cotton' thing. Don't get this any other time. Lagers fermented with a dry yeast starter or repitched slurry dry yeast at gen 0 are much cleaner, to me. 🤷
 
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moreb33rplz

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More viable cells programmed to ferment wort. Compared with dry yeast, programmed to adapt to commercial drying conditions. Basic biology really.

Edit: pitching dry lager yeast I get unbalanced beers with an almost phenol off flavour mixed with a weird 'ironed cotton' thing. Don't get this any other time. Lagers fermented with a dry yeast starter or repitched slurry dry yeast at gen 0 are much cleaner, to me. 🤷
So cell count is the reason you do it

That's why you dry pitch an appropriate amount of yeast

If you're getting off-flavors from dry pitching yeast, you're messing something up, it isn't the yeast. And there is no difference between yeast slurry at the bottom of your fermented beer that started with dry yeast or liquid yeast or space paste yeast or magic fairy dust yeast
 

easttex

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I finally have a fridge set up for temperature controlled fermentation, so I'm about to try my first lager. I usually don't do yeast starters, but I've seen a lot of things saying that they are a necessity for lagers. I've also seen things saying that starters are unnecessary or not recommended for dry yeast. But what if I'm making a lager with dry lager yeast? I have one packet of 34/70, 5 gallon batch.

Related question: If I make a starter, can I get away with using half the packet and saving the rest? (yeah, I'm a cheapskate.)

Just bottled a room-temp Helles style beer with Lutra kveik, so it will be interesting to see how the pseudo-lager compares to the real thing.
Just do it and don't tell anybody and you'll probably make a delicious beer.
 

wepeeler

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I have been brewing for 25 years.
I used to not make a starter with dry yeast, but when I finally started doing lagers I also started making starters with dry yeast.
Now I make starters with dry yeast all the time, for ales or lagers.
My experience is that I get better, more reliable, and more attenuation when I make starters with dry yeast.
I can't tell any difference in flavor at all.
I guess others may think it's not necessary or just flat wrong, and to each their own - but I'm gonna keep making starters... :)
No difference in flavor? So why go through the extra step, time and money to make a starter?
 

AZ Maverick

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No difference in flavor? So why go through the extra step, time and money to make a starter?

A couple of reasons.
From my post, "My experience is that I get better, more reliable, and more attenuation when I make starters with dry yeast."
Also, dry yeast isn't as inexpensive as it used to be so starters are less expensive (since I do all grain) than buying multiple dry yeast packs.
Liquid yeast isn't an option where I live in the middle of AZ during the summer as there is no way to cool them during delivery even with the cool packs that they come with.
 

wepeeler

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A couple of reasons.
From my post, "My experience is that I get better, more reliable, and more attenuation when I make starters with dry yeast."
Also, dry yeast isn't as inexpensive as it used to be so starters are less expensive (since I do all grain) than buying multiple dry yeast packs.
Liquid yeast isn't an option where I live in the middle of AZ during the summer as there is no way to cool them during delivery even with the cool packs that they come with.
Flavor isn't what you're searching for when brewing? How do you come to the conclusion that you get better, more reliable yeast when making starters? I can understand the more attenuation, because it's measurable, but if the flavor is the same I'm not sure why you'd go through the hassle.

I routinely get warm liquid packs in the mail. Definitely make a starter for that. Only 1 pack has failed me in well over 200.
 

AZ Maverick

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Flavor isn't what you're searching for when brewing? How do you come to the conclusion that you get better, more reliable yeast when making starters? I can understand the more attenuation, because it's measurable, but if the flavor is the same I'm not sure why you'd go through the hassle.

I routinely get warm liquid packs in the mail. Definitely make a starter for that. Only 1 pack has failed me in well over 200.

During the summer here, temps on my front porch are well over 100°F and by the time I get home any delivered liquid yeast (even cooled) is long dead...
In the past, when I direct pitched dry yeast I usually did get acceptable results - but once I started making starters with dry yeast my fermentation takes off much quicker and I have never had a high gravity brew stalled fermentation when using a dry yeast starter (which I have had happen with direct dry pitch).
Like I said in a previous post, I know some brewers will think I'm wasting my time or even doing detrimental procedures - but to each their own. :)
 

wepeeler

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During the summer here, temps on my front porch are well over 100°F and by the time I get home any delivered liquid yeast (even cooled) is long dead...
In the past, when I direct pitched dry yeast I usually did get acceptable results - but once I started making starters with dry yeast my fermentation takes off much quicker and I have never had a high gravity brew stalled fermentation when using a dry yeast starter (which I have had happen with direct dry pitch).
Like I said in a previous post, I know some brewers will think I'm wasting my time or even doing detrimental procedures - but to each their own. :)
No local home brew shop? Maybe try to get a few liquid yeasts during cooler temps and harvest from starters. That's what I do. Store in 1L soda bottles with the screw tops.
 

AZ Maverick

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No local home brew shop? Maybe try to get a few liquid yeasts during cooler temps and harvest from starters. That's what I do. Store in 1L soda bottles with the screw tops.
Yeah, no local HBS.
Liquid yeast during the cooler temps is the only time I can get them without killing them.
I suppose I really need to start harvesting....
 
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