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How big of a starter can you first make from a fresh pack of yeast?

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Nate R

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Hey all.
Still kinda new to yeast harvesting, starters, etc. (Can't believe i waited this long!! Such a money saver!!)

Anyways... i got a big 'ole 5L flask coming soon.
Here's my question:
Can i start with a fresh pack of yeast (say, Imperial which is my go-to) and immediatley make a large 5L starter? Or do i need to step it up? Make a 2L, then 4L, etc.?

Also, does it make a difference if i use a 'double pack' vs. a white labs single pack? (100 vs. 200 billion cells to start).

Thanks all!!
 

day_trippr

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Yes, you can do that, and in fact unless you're doing lagers the growth rate works well for pitching 10 gallons of 1.055 wort @1M cells/ml/°P plus stashing another ~300B cells for the next batch - so in the 800-900B cell neighborhood. Doing a small step like 2 liters followed by a 5 liter step doesn't dramatically improve the total cell count, ending around 1100B cells.

In the case of the 200B cell packs, you start seeing the growth rate tailing off given equal size/density starter solution vs 100B. For example, using the Braukaiser stir plate growth model, 100B cells in a 5 liter starter will result in ~800B cells, where 200B cells results in ~900B cells. A long way from double.

I recommend finding a "yeast pitch rate/starter calculator" that you like for this stuff. fwiw, I use the Brewer's Friend calculator provided by the massive conglomerate the runs HBT ;)
Don't know if it provides the highest fidelity but it's really easy to use and I've had nothing but positive results using it...

Cheers!
 
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Nate R

Nate R

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Thank you all for the advice!
Ok, another 3 questions:

(While i anxiously await my 5L flask!)

#1: I just started a 2L starter using a white labs WLP800 pilsner. Best by 9/3/20.
Does Lager yeast starter work at room temps like ale yeast? Seems weird that i do not have to temp control my starter.

#2: Is is safe to assume i could use half of this to later start a 5L? Would it be enough?

Also- # 3: anybody know the trick to how to read when a white labs was made?


Thanks all!!
 

gromitdj

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#1: I just started a 2L starter using a white labs WLP800 pilsner. Best by 9/3/20.
Does Lager yeast starter work at room temps like ale yeast? Seems weird that i do not have to temp control my starter.
It is my understanding that temperature only effects how quickly it will finish and what esters are produced. I generally don't let my starters go until they finish. I only let it go 12 - 24 hours before I either step it up or pitch it. I believe that is how long the reproduction state takes, which is the goal. A good read if it's still there is Jamil's article on Yeast starter from MrMalty.com (It is, but some of the info might be a little dated. e.g. the purepitch packaging wasn't around then)

#2: Is is safe to assume i could use half of this to later start a 5L? Would it be enough?
That is essentially what overbuilding is. You'd need to use one of the calculators to determine what the new pitch rate is on both the part you're using now and the part you save when you finally use it. For example, on BrewUnited, I tell it I want to overbuild by 100b cells usually, then I use a spreadsheet to determine what percentage of the starter to save (by weight) and then I save that amount in a mason jar and pitch the remainder.

Also- # 3: anybody know the trick to how to read when a white labs was made?
I found this on their website. If it's a pure pitch package, it should be on there. Hope I helped!

new-purepitch-packaging-front_1.png
 
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Nate R

Nate R

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It is my understanding that temperature only effects how quickly it will finish and what esters are produced. I generally don't let my starters go until they finish. I only let it go 12 - 24 hours before I either step it up or pitch it. I believe that is how long the reproduction state takes, which is the goal. A good read if it's still there is Jamil's article on Yeast starter from MrMalty.com (It is, but some of the info might be a little dated. e.g. the purepitch packaging wasn't around then)



That is essentially what overbuilding is. You'd need to use one of the calculators to determine what the new pitch rate is on both the part you're using now and the part you save when you finally use it. For example, on BrewUnited, I tell it I want to overbuild by 100b cells usually, then I use a spreadsheet to determine what percentage of the starter to save (by weight) and then I save that amount in a mason jar and pitch the remainder.



I found this on their website. If it's a pure pitch package, it should be on there. Hope I helped!

View attachment 673405

Thanks!!

For #1: "step it up"- i read this to understand you DO go from say a 2L starter to a 4L starter (or whatever). Is there a benefit to using a step up vs. just making a big stater?

For #3- that is also what i found, but their newer packages (see attached) onlu show best by, not born on

Thanks all!!

20200329_090950.jpg
 

Beer666

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I just made a starter with a year old pack of WLP Munich lager yeast. It did took a good few days to get going but was fine when i stepped it up. I have been using 1.5l of 1040 wort but i should probably of used half that slightly weaker. I have found a 3l starter to be plenty for 6 gallons cold fermented. Never used a calc but go by eye.
 

gromitdj

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For #1: "step it up"- i read this to understand you DO go from say a 2L starter to a 4L starter (or whatever). Is there a benefit to using a step up vs. just making a big stater?
The calculator I use recommends keeping the innoculation rate between 25 and 100 cells per milliliter. I'm not sure why, but assume it's probably to keep the growth rate down to reduce stress to the yeast.

For #3- that is also what i found, but their newer packages (see attached) onlu show best by, not born on
Interesting. I believe with the old vials the "born on" date was 4 months before the best by date. More research will be needed here. Have you thought to shoot White Labs an email? I know they are usually pretty responsive. Can't speak to current situation, however.
 

gromitdj

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It looks like you can look up the QC data on yeastman.com using the lot number.

That says that your WLP800 was released from Q.C. on 3/6/2020 and the WLP940 on 3/14/2020
 
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RM-MN

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Some of us have made a dandy 5 gallon starter with the single pack of yeast and then drank the spent beer. We were so bold as to put hops in the wort and boil it, let it ferment out and then bottled it, saving the yeast that collected for future batches.:eek:
 

Stand

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The only reason you would want to make a stepped starter would be if you are building up from a very low cell count.

I freeze 50ml centrifuge tubes with glycerin and start with 500ml starters because of lower cell counts.

Unless you are doing that or maybe pulling a spoonful of yeast from yeast you harvested and stored 6 months ago I can't see a reason to do one.
 
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Nate R

Nate R

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Thanks again all for the help & replies!!!

I got my 5L yesterday and started up a batch of Imperial Stefon that i had built up from a 2L batch. I used about 2/3 of that.

One note- i did use some Wheat DME (50% to 50% propper starter) because my "genius" idea was to help get the yeast adjusted to wheat.
Did not think what that would do to the Krausen... whoo wee that was fun!!
Cant wait to see how much yeast i get from this tommorrow.
 

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