Huge Yeast Starters

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ShakyD

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Just finished reading Jamil's piece on Maibocks in the new BYO. He suggests using a 15 liter starter for 5 gallons of wort with an OG 1.070. A quick check with Mr Malty suggests that this can be reduced to 6 or so liters with the use of a stir plate. Since I only have a 2000 ml flask that left me with questions. What vessel would you use for such a large starter? And with that vessel could you still use a stir plate?
 

kickrjason

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15 liters is almost 4 gallons. that can't possibly be correct. Typo?
 

Haputanlas

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ShakyD said:
Just finished reading Jamil's piece on Maibocks in the new BYO. He suggests using a 15 liter starter for 5 gallons of wort with an OG 1.070. A quick check with Mr Malty suggests that this can be reduced to 6 or so liters with the use of a stir plate. Since I only have a 2000 ml flask that left me with questions. What vessel would you use for such a large starter? And with that vessel could you still use a stir plate?
You know that 15 litres is about 4 gallons right?

That would be 5 gallons of wort with 4 gallons of yeast and starter beer.
 

29thfloor

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I thought that seemed weird too. It also says 500 billion cells, which is a pretty big starter but I don't think its 15L big.
 

el_caro

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It appears twice on page 20 of BREW and talks about 5 packages of yeast if not using a starter (for a 5 gallon brew). I though - NO Maibock for me.

Wyeast say : "Pitch Rate:

Lagers typically have a reduced ester profile and are characterized as clean with discernable malt character. It is very important to recognize that pitch rate is directly related to ester production. Increasing the quantity of yeast pitched is the most effective method of reducing the ester profile in the finished beer. A minimum of 12 million cells per milliliter is recommended to keep esters at a minimum.

One Wyeast Activator pack will deliver about 6 million cells per milliliter to 5 gallons of wort. In order to increase this rate to 12 million cells per milliliter it is necessary to either pitch two Activators or to make a 0.5 gallon (2 liter) starter with an Activator. If a starter is made using a Propagator (50ml package) then the starter needs to be 1 gallon (3.78 liters) to achieve 12 million cells per ml. "


I would like to have a go at this and was hoping that he meant about a 4 liter(a gallon) starter which would come near the 500bn cells he talks of requiring.
 

Coolmac

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At that point you may as well do something lighter and then pitch the maibock onto the yeast cake!
 

nefarious_1_

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You know that 15 litres is about 4 gallons right?

That would be 5 gallons of wort with 4 gallons of yeast and starter beer.
Not exactly. Any starter over 1.5L should be chilled and decanted after it's fermented out. Jamil recommends this, as do many others. In the case of 4 gallons, this would result in a MUCH smaller yeast slurry, probably around 1L.

I would hope no one would pitch 4 gallons of disgusting starter beer into 5gal. fresh wort. Many brewers won't even pitch 2L! (myself included.)

I thought that seemed weird too. It also says 500 billion cells, which is a pretty big starter but I don't think its 15L big.
One activator pack contains a minimum of 100 billion yeast cells. This is why the article mentions using 5 packages of yeast without a starter (I actually haven't read it, I'm going by previous posts.)
According to Mr. Malty, if the yeast is fresh, two Activator packs can be grown to approximately 482 billion cells in one 6L starter. The same can be accomplished with one Activator pack in a 15L starter. So, no, there isn't a typo. Lagers require lots of yeast. As OP stated, the starter volume can be reduced using a stir plate.

To answer OP's question: I would consider making two or three smaller starters to achieve the 482 billion cells. Once they've finished fermenting, chill and decant, combine the slurry and pitch.
 

torque2k

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What the heck is so special about a maibock which requires that much yeast?! I mean, what's the OG on this recipe? Even in Brewing Classic Styles, his "Angel Wings" maibock recipe, at 1.070 OG, calls for 27g of dry yeast or 5 liquid yeast packs...

EDIT: I'm not a lager brewer, so I didn't realize this, but many of his recipes call for at least 21g yeast, unlike his ale recipes. Does lager yeast differ THAT much from ale yeast?
 

nefarious_1_

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What the heck is so special about a maibock which requires that much yeast?! I mean, what's the OG on this recipe? Even in Brewing Classic Styles, his "Angel Wings" maibock recipe, at 1.070 OG, calls for 27g of dry yeast or 5 liquid yeast packs...

EDIT: I'm not a lager brewer, so I didn't realize this, but many of his recipes call for at least 21g yeast, unlike his ale recipes. Does lager yeast differ THAT much from ale yeast?
In general, lagers require twice as much yeast.
 

el_caro

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I am confused. I can see that you could arguably need up 4 Activators if not using a starter however how does that reconcile with the information from Wyeast

"One Wyeast Activator pack will deliver about 6 million cells per milliliter to 5 gallons of wort. In order to increase this rate to 12 million cells per milliliter it is necessary to either pitch two Activators or to make a 0.5 gallon (2 liter) starter with an Activator. "

12 million cells per milliliter would be around 227billion cells for 5gal brew.
If you double that to approach the 500 billion he is suggesting then would you not just need 2 packs in 1.0 gallon (4 liter) starter?
 

MacGruber

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I made a lager using about a quarter gallon starter from one activator pack. I pitched when the starter was at high krausen. The lager came out great. I can't see using 4 activator packs...it seems a little overkill.
 

nefarious_1_

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I made a lager using about a quarter gallon starter from one activator pack. I pitched when the starter was at high krausen. The lager came out great. I can't see using 4 activator packs...it seems a little overkill.
There are numerous threads on here, articles on Mr. Malty and books written about why the best beer is made using proper pitch rates. No need to beat a dead horse, seek and ye shall find. I'm sure there will be 10 people coming on here in a minute talking about how they underpitch all the time and the beer is fine. It amounts to this:
Will you make beer if you underpitch? Yes. Will it be good? Probably, but not the best beer possible.


On to OP's question...
I am confused. I can see that you could arguably need up 4 Activators if not using a starter however how does that reconcile with the information from Wyeast

"One Wyeast Activator pack will deliver about 6 million cells per milliliter to 5 gallons of wort. In order to increase this rate to 12 million cells per milliliter it is necessary to either pitch two Activators or to make a 0.5 gallon (2 liter) starter with an Activator. "

12 million cells per milliliter would be around 227billion cells for 5gal brew.
If you double that to approach the 500 billion he is suggesting then would you not just need 2 packs in 1.0 gallon (4 liter) starter?
Yeast starter cell growth is non-linear. There are graphs showing this in "Yeast." In summary, there is a point of diminishing returns where cell growth rate does not continue to increase relative to starter size (if that makes sense.) Chris White and JZ explain this much better than I can.

Looking at the chart from "Yeast," and results from the Mr. Malty calculator, a smaller size starter yields more cell growth than a larger one up to 2L. However, things drop off around the 2L mark, as you seem to have already noticed. 100 billion yeast cells pitched into a 2L starter virtually double in cell count, but in larger sizes reproduction rates slow down, hence two smaller starters or one much larger starter to achieve the same results.
Yeast also become more stressed in starters >2L so it's good practice to step-up to those sizes or make a couple smaller ones and combine the slurry.
 

bh10

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You guys are over thinking this, make the starter a week before the brew day let it ferment for 24-36 hours throw in fridge let yeast settle to the bottom, decant the liquid, dump the yeast in the wort.


For the record, I personally dont agree with Mr. Malty, while its not a bad tool it all, there pitching rates are exagerated (sp?), a little.

To the OP Ive made a dopplebock and a baltic porter that were that strength using wlp833, for the dopple I use a 2.5L starter and it took of within an hour or two of the baltic which I pitch onto a yeast cake of munich helles, both were right at the 12hr mark. And it had zero of flavors.
 
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ShakyD

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Thanks for the replies. So it sounds like two or three seperate 2L starters off of a stir plate and a 18-24 hour ferment and then crashed in the fridge would suffice. Decant the starter beer and pitch all of the slurry. What do you guys like to make starters in?
 

el_caro

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I want to give this a try using one Activator pack of Wyeast 2206. Does this sound about the right approach? Using stir plate, I pitch one Activator into a 2L starter let it ferment out for about 24 -36 hours then decant and split it into 2 new 2L starters which after 24 -36 hours I will crash and combine pitching into 5gallons of wort?
 

nefarious_1_

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I use one gallon jugs to make my starters.
I think both your methods (last 2 posts) will get you close to where you need to be.
 

squirrelly

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That does seem like a very large starter. That is basically a ten gallon batch of beer when it is all said and done. While Jamil is "the pope," and I follow almost everything he talks about, I find that doing a 5000 ml starter on a stir plate for 3 days for beers that are 1.060 or larger works out very well.

[email protected]. on tap: easy virtue blonde, fruity monk belgian wit. primary: American pale ale, American stout, blow your top steam, and heffewitzen
 

rjwhite41

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I use 1 gallon jugs for most of my starters. When making extremely big starters, 3 gallons is the most I've done, I use the carboy I am going to ferment the beer in. Honestly though, if you are going to make that big of a starter you might as well make a beer and pitch the cake. Maibock's take a lot of yeast and a lot of patience (as do dopple's) but they are well worth the effort.
 

Clementine

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A couple of things first to the OP

I took the numbers the OP put into Mr Malty and got a totally different answer, has anyone else taken his numbers and tried it I think some how you missed a decimal point or used Gallons instead of liters or quarts or something.

Yeast Type Lager, OG 1.070, Batch Volume 5 Gal (made yeast viability 90%)

Number of cells required 482 Billion = 2.48L on a stir plate not what I would call a overly large starter.

Yeast cell density on a stir plate vary from 180MYC/ml to 360MYC/ml (ref: maltose falcon website) so a 6L starter on a stir plate would yeild approx 180 x 6 Billion Yeast cells = 1.08 Trillion Yeast cells.

For the record, I personally dont agree with Mr. Malty, while its not a bad tool it all, there pitching rates are exagerated (sp?), a little.
I actually did the math of Mr Malty and found for Ales he used a pitch rate of 8.5MYC/ml of wort for a 1.048 wort the recommended pitch rates are between 6-10MYC so he is about in the middle. I try to pitch mine at 10MYC/ml

Clem
 

rjwhite41

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I put it in at 5.5 gallons to account for trub and came up with a 7.78 liter starter. When I did it though I put in larger starter/fewer yeast packs. I see yours has 2 yeast packs.
 

Clementine

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I put it in at 5.5 gallons to account for trub and came up with a 7.78 liter starter. When I did it though I put in larger starter/fewer yeast packs. I see yours has 2 yeast packs.
Good point, I got the same answers now, I could not figure out what he did.

For the OP if you did a stepped starter you could get away with using your 2L flask. rjwhite pointed out that I had not played with the number of yeast packs, doing that you can have a stir plate starter with three vials will give you the required number of yeast. So if you did a stepped starter you could use as little as a 1.54L starter. There is a video that explains the use of steps (note this video does not account for using a stir plate, so you could do less steps/smaller volumes)

http://billybrew.com/stepping-up-a-yeast-starter

Clem
 

el_caro

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I want to give this a try using one Activator pack of Wyeast 2206. Does this sound about the right approach? Using stir plate, I pitch one Activator into a 2L starter let it ferment out for about 24 -36 hours then decant and split it into 2 new 2L starters which after 24 -36 hours I will crash and combine pitching into 5gallons of wort?
Clementine
Does this sound like a goer or would I by your calculations be under-pitching a little?
 

Clementine

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Short Answer Yes that will work.

When I had to brew enough yeast for 10G 1.090 IPA with only 2 x 100ml flasks, I brewed and put yeast in sterilized jars (I love my pressure cooker). Once I had enough yeast I divide my yeast into two groups and added them to my warm up starters (one for each 5Gal fermenter). I pitch at high krausen, to do this I take prepared yeast finish a few days prior to brew day and pitch them into a final (non-stirred, just aerated) starter morning for brew day and then they are at high krausen by the time I finish brewing and chilling.

I breed my yeast from slants and so the step rule is a little different from the video I posted. I step in 4 fold increments and assume 200MYC/ml for cell density of stir starter. I will walk you through my process, but substitute in your numbers.

(Note BYC = Billion Yeast Cells and MYC.... You get it)

So a Activator Pack = 60BYC (Note assuming not a smack pack which is 120BYC)
Assume 75% viability = 45BYC starting count
Assume Stir plate cell density = 200MYC/ml
Therefore a 225ml Starter on a stir plate = an Activator pack with 75% viability.
Final cell count required is 500BYC
Final Stepped Starter size required = 500BYC/200MYC/ml = 2500ml (or 2.5L)
Day 1/2) I would make a 1.2L starter only on the stir plate until you see the yeast flock out.
Day 2/3)Crash cool, decant, swirl, split into a sanitized jar and a your flask.
Day 5/6)2L starter crash cool decant into a sterilized jar (large)
Day 6/7)2L starter crash cool decant into first jar.

Day 8/9) Morning of the brew decant water off yeast and add 2L or more wort to jar and let it warm up and pitch into a final start not stirred by aerated and plan on pitching into your brew 12hrs later.

On when to stop you stir plate. You will notice the color change there may or may not be a krausen evident. You will really notice the color change the brew looks like curdled milk on stir plate when it is done. You stop the stir plate and the yeast settle out within minutes... then she is all but done. I let is sit at room temp another 12-18hrs and then crash cool for 24-48hrs (wheat yeast and other low floccers take longer sometimes), decant, warm up, add more wort and go again.

You can see that you will need to start this process about 1.5 weeks before you brew. So it takes time and you will also need about 6 liters of starter material (you will want to decant off the trub/hotbreak) from the starters so you don't have excess yeast cake (yeast and trub) in the bottom of the jars/flask. If you are planning on doing serious brewing like this then a pressure cooker is a good investment. You can make up your starter media in one big batch and the steps are really quick and painless as there is no boiling and cooling just open a canned jar of wort and pour it in! after you have done it once you will realize that was the best $40 (if you buy it new) you spent.

Alternatively you could by 3 vials/smackpacks of yeast and pitch them into a 2L starter and get the same thing?

Clem
 

el_caro

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Thanks Clem. That is a great explanation and something I can follow.
I agree with your comments on pressure cooker. We have 8L one and love it.

Much appreciated.
 

BBL_Brewer

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To answer the OP's original question. I use 1 gallon glass jugs for my starter vessels. You can get them for almost nothing at orchards and the like. I use them with a stir plate without any problems. I doubt you will ever need a starter vessel bigger than that if you use a stir plate.
 

el_caro

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To answer the OP's original question. I use 1 gallon glass jugs for my starter vessels. You can get them for almost nothing at orchards and the like. I use them with a stir plate without any problems. I doubt you will ever need a starter vessel bigger than that if you use a stir plate.
Just tried my heavy glass 1 gallon bottle and surprise, surprise it works beautifully. Thanks for the tip. Looks like my options for larger starters has improved dramatically.
 

el_caro

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Good point, I got the same answers now, I could not figure out what he did.

For the OP if you did a stepped starter you could get away with using your 2L flask. rjwhite pointed out that I had not played with the number of yeast packs, doing that you can have a stir plate starter with three vials will give you the required number of yeast. So if you did a stepped starter you could use as little as a 1.54L starter. There is a video that explains the use of steps (note this video does not account for using a stir plate, so you could do less steps/smaller volumes)

http://billybrew.com/stepping-up-a-yeast-starter

Clem
Excellent video explanation.
 

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