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Is a Yeast Starter Ever a Bad Idea?

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nestler

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Is it ever a bad idea to use a yeast starter in a batch of beer instead of just using a vial of liquid yeast directly (White Labs)?

The recipe for my first batch (Stone IPA clone) recommended using a starter due to high original gravity, and I did. It had a vigorous fermentation and the end product was very good. The recipe for my next batch does not talk about using a starter, and it is not such a high ABV beer. Should I go ahead and use a starter anyway to ensure a good fermentation?
 

DeathBrewer

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no. it's never a bad idea.

you don't want to overpitch, but thats not possible with a 1L starter.

i make a starter for every batch that i use wet yeast and i step up to a 2L starter when i'm making big beers

:mug:
 

Dr_Deathweed

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Depends who you ask, some will say that you need to make a huge starter every time, and others will say that its a waste of time with low gravity beers. I don't think making a starter is ever a BAD idea, but you don't need to make a huge one with small beers. Just know, a huge starter also leads to a stronger, cleaner ferment.
 

rdwj

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A starter is ALWAYS better. Sometimes I don't use one, but only when I don't have time.
 
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As usual, the answer to your question is, "it depends."

If you are fermenting only one gallon of beer, making a starter is probably a waste of time, since a single vial or smack pack is really more yeast than you need.

If you are fermenting a Belgian beer or hefeweizen, making a big starter may not result in the estery profile called for by the style. A small starter is probably still in order.

If you have a 15 gallon batch of barleywine, and you only have one vial/smack pack, you DEFINITELY need to make a starter. Significantly underpitching your batch by just tossing the contents of the package into the wort will likely result in a stuck fermentation and/or REALLY long lag time + off flavors.

Under average circumstances, given a moderate OG (1.035-1.055), and a 5 gallon batch of beer, making a starter of at least 1-2 liters is most likely advantageous.
 
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