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Dark_Ale

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I am brewing a all grain 5 gallon batch of an English Pale ale. I have always used dry yeast but heard that the liquid smack packs were better. Anyway, I am torn between making a starter or not I have never used liquid yeast. The guy at the brew shop says I dont need a starter but I have read that I should make a starter. On previous brews the dry yeast gives me pretty rapid fermentation withen a few hours. I guess I just need to know what to expect
first question do you think I should make a starter?
second' If you make a starter I read you should add it while its fermenting rapidly, but it says that some put the starter in the ice box to settle the yeast then pour some of the liquid off and add the slurry.
I know its just beer...LOL anyway just trying to get a little better with my process. Thanks for the help.
 

SwAMi75

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You don't have to pitch a starter.....the activator packs will do the job. But, the general concensus is that the yeast will do the job better with a starter.

Just mix 3/4 cup DME with 2 cups of water (or double that, as most recommend), and boil for 5-10 min. Cool to <80F, and pitch your yeast. I use gallon milk-type jugs.....cut a small slit in the cap, and stick an airlock in there. Everything sanitized, of course.

It should make kreautsen......even if it doesn't, you'll be able to see that the yeast propogated in the bottom of the jug. Make one up 2-3 days before brewing, and you'll be fine!

BTW...I can't take credit for discovering the above info....ORRELSE taught me all that.
 
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Dark_Ale

Dark_Ale

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Sam75 said:
You don't have to pitch a starter.....the activator packs will do the job. But, the general concensus is that the yeast will do the job better with a starter.

Just mix 3/4 cup DME with 2 cups of water (or double that, as most recommend), and boil for 5-10 min. Cool to <80F, and pitch your yeast. I use gallon milk-type jugs.....cut a small slit in the cap, and stick an airlock in there. Everything sanitized, of course.

It should make kreautsen......even if it doesn't, you'll be able to see that the yeast propogated in the bottom of the jug. Make one up 2-3 days before brewing, and you'll be fine!

BTW...I can't take credit for discovering the above info....ORRELSE taught me all that.
So once I pour my starter into my primary, pour all of the starter in right, liquid and all?
 

attym

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I posted this in another section, but saw this thread and thought I'd re-post to try and get an answer before tomorrow morning:

My question:

I'm planning to brew Friday around 2:45pm (Summer hours on friday!) Should I take my smack pack out of the fridge before I leave the house at 7:15am? If I am to take it out, should I "smack" it before i go? Should i just wait until I get home, take it out and smack it at room temp?
 

SwAMi75

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Dark_Ale said:
So once I pour my starter into my primary, pour all of the starter in right, liquid and all?
Yep!

attym said:
I'm planning to brew Friday around 2:45pm (Summer hours on friday!) Should I take my smack pack out of the fridge before I leave the house at 7:15am? If I am to take it out, should I "smack" it before i go? Should i just wait until I get home, take it out and smack it at room temp?
Let it warm to room temp and smack before you go to work. Really, you'd be OK to do this a couple hours before you brew, but it'll for sure be ready by the time you get home. You've really got to beat the crap out of them to burst the inner pack. I lay mine on the counter to do it. Even then, I've had a couple that didn't burst. Another reason I just use a starter.

Best of luck!
 

DeRoux's Broux

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there are several way's to skin a starter! :~)

the smack pack will work fine by itself, and taste a whole helluva lot better than the dried yeast.

just follow the directions on the back of the Wyeast packet. works every time....

24 hours before i brew, i use make a 1300 ml starter in a Pyrex flask. i warm 1300 ml water in a stainless pot, add 1 cup light dried malt extract, stir to disolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 min. remove from heat, cover lid tightly with foil, and put in an ice bath in the sink. when it cools to the touch, remove foil cap, pitch packet/vial of yeast and cover whith a cleaned and sanitized air lock. you'll see activity within a couple hours. you can get several types of directions of www.whitelabs.com and www.wyeast.com. they all vary a little, but i'm sure the results are the same (depending on the size of the starter). higher gravity beers and lagers need a larger starter (2 qt).

i pitched my starter into my Irish red ale saturday @ 3:45, and had activity at 5:00. when i used vials of yeast, it woulkd take 15-24 hours to see any activity. mo bedda for the beer.

good luck!
 
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Dark_Ale

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DeRoux's Broux said:
there are several way's to skin a starter! :~)

the smack pack will work fine by itself, and taste a whole helluva lot better than the dried yeast.

just follow the directions on the back of the Wyeast packet. works every time....

24 hours before i brew, i use make a 1300 ml starter in a Pyrex flask. i warm 1300 ml water in a stainless pot, add 1 cup light dried malt extract, stir to disolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 min. remove from heat, cover lid tightly with foil, and put in an ice bath in the sink. when it cools to the touch, remove foil cap, pitch packet/vial of yeast and cover whith a cleaned and sanitized air lock. you'll see activity within a couple hours. you can get several types of directions of www.whitelabs.com and www.wyeast.com. they all vary a little, but i'm sure the results are the same (depending on the size of the starter). higher gravity beers and lagers need a larger starter (2 qt).

i pitched my starter into my Irish red ale saturday @ 3:45, and had activity at 5:00. when i used vials of yeast, it woulkd take 15-24 hours to see any activity. mo bedda for the beer.

good luck!
Ok made starter Saturday morning, I never seen much activity, but I could see a nice thick layer of yeast in the bottom. I shook it up good sunday afternoon, and pitched withen an 1hr my airlock was singing
 

cygnus128

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DeRoux's Broux said:
there are several way's to skin a starter! :~)

the smack pack will work fine by itself, and taste a whole helluva lot better than the dried yeast.

just follow the directions on the back of the Wyeast packet. works every time....

24 hours before i brew, i use make a 1300 ml starter in a Pyrex flask. i warm 1300 ml water in a stainless pot, add 1 cup light dried malt extract, stir to disolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 min. remove from heat, cover lid tightly with foil, and put in an ice bath in the sink. when it cools to the touch, remove foil cap, pitch packet/vial of yeast and cover whith a cleaned and sanitized air lock. you'll see activity within a couple hours. you can get several types of directions of www.whitelabs.com and www.wyeast.com. they all vary a little, but i'm sure the results are the same (depending on the size of the starter). higher gravity beers and lagers need a larger starter (2 qt).

i pitched my starter into my Irish red ale saturday @ 3:45, and had activity at 5:00. when i used vials of yeast, it woulkd take 15-24 hours to see any activity. mo bedda for the beer.

good luck!

If you are using a pyrex erlenmeyer flask you can boil the water right in the flask. Most of those flasks are made to be autoclaved (120 degrees C).
 

DeRoux's Broux

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cool stuff hu? nice to have the ferment start so quick. it'll really improve your brews. you'll be glad you did it......
keep us posted.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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cygnus128 said:
If you are using a pyrex erlenmeyer flask you can boil the water right in the flask. Most of those flasks are made to be autoclaved (120 degrees C).
have you ever done it like that? it's a mess. to try and to add the DME into that small flask opening, that crap get's every where :mad: . the steam from inside the flask makes all the DME cake to the inside wall and lip of the flask (plus the measuring cup!). half ends up on the stove top or stuck to the the flask. it's just easier to use a stainless pot, then use a funnel to get it into the flask. i learned after the first time :p
plus, when you add DME to BOILING WATER = major boil-over and stove top mess.......i learned that too! :D
 

cygnus128

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DeRoux's Broux said:
have you ever done it like that? it's a mess. to try and to add the DME into that small flask opening, that crap get's every where :mad: . the steam from inside the flask makes all the DME cake to the inside wall and lip of the flask (plus the measuring cup!). half ends up on the stove top or stuck to the the flask. it's just easier to use a stainless pot, then use a funnel to get it into the flask. i learned after the first time :p
plus, when you add DME to BOILING WATER = major boil-over and stove top mess.......i learned that too! :D
Hehe, thanks. Getting a flask in a few days...gona start doing starters. You saved me a big mess :).
 

DeRoux's Broux

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cygnus128 said:
Hehe, thanks. Getting a flask in a few days...gona start doing starters. You saved me a big mess :).
hey, i'm all about saving people grief! :D
i got my starter kit from Northern Brewer, and have followed their instructions with great results. you'll dig using the flask set-up.
 

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DeRoux's Broux said:
cool stuff hu? nice to have the ferment start so quick. it'll really improve your brews. you'll be glad you did it......
keep us posted.

How does it improve your brews? Doesn't it just speed up fermentation? Or does it have some other effects?
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Driftwood said:
How does it improve your brews? Doesn't it just speed up fermentation? Or does it have some other effects?
i got this off www.whitelabs.com:
"One of the main sources of contamination in a brewery is the pitching yeast. So in order to out-compete other organisms, large quantities of yeast must be pitched. When propagated by a professional yeast laboratory, the yeast is grown under sterile conditions, sterileoxygen and special nutrients are used to improve cell construction and performance. This does not occur in a brewery, so numbers they use to "pitch" take into account the inadequacy of their brewers yeast. The yeast is also unhealthy due to prolonged growth without oxygen and nutrients. In addition, brewers yeast will always contain some contaminants that need to be out-grown, and 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato has been found to be the best marriage of high pitching rates and no negative flavor effects (Higher pitching rates can lead to unhealthy yeast and a "yeasty" off bite). Liquid yeast grown by a professional laboratory should have no contaminants, so out competing contaminants found in the pitching yeast is not a concern.

One thing that contributes to flavor contribution in beer is yeast growth. If less yeast is pitched into beer, more yeast growth takes place, so more flavor compounds such as esters are produced. Depending on the amount produced, this is how pitching rates can have a direct effect on flavor profile. If 5 to 10 billion cells are pitched into wort, this definitely has a negative flavor impact in terms of higher ester levels and potential for bacterial contamination. But does a pint starter worth of yeast (30-50 billion cells) pitched into beer taste different then 2 liters worth of yeast (250 billion cells)? Sounds like more homebrew has to be made to get to the bottom of this! Your feedback is appreciated."

did that help? :D
 

Janx

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Hey that's a fantastic and concise explanation to a question that gets asked here a lot. Maybe a FAQ answer?
 

cygnus128

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Driftwood said:
How does it improve your brews? Doesn't it just speed up fermentation? Or does it have some other effects?
Just to expand on what has already been said a bit. No matter how careful you are there will always be some bacteria and wild yeast in your beer. There is no way to avoid it. A good fast start will allow the good yeast to take care of most of your fermentables before any bacteria/wild yeast can get a foothold.
 

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DeRoux's Broux said:
One thing that contributes to flavor contribution in beer is yeast growth. If less yeast is pitched into beer, more yeast growth takes place, so more flavor compounds such as esters are produced. Depending on the amount produced, this is how pitching rates can have a direct effect on flavor profile. If 5 to 10 billion cells are pitched into wort, this definitely has a negative flavor impact in terms of higher ester levels and potential for bacterial contamination. But does a pint starter worth of yeast (30-50 billion cells) pitched into beer taste different then 2 liters worth of yeast (250 billion cells)? Sounds like more homebrew has to be made to get to the bottom of this! Your feedback is appreciated."

did that help? :D
Interesting and very helpful. But here's a question:

They say that excessive yeast growth will produce more flavor compounds... well, wouldn't you produce those anyway with a starter? I mean, you either pitch without a starter and get all this yeast growth in the fermenter (producing esters,etc...) or you make a starter, and you get lots of inital yeast growth in your starter, but also producing esters,etc... so when you dump your starter into the fermenter, all the esters go with it anyway?

So as far as this benefit to starters goes, I don't see the difference... :confused:
 

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DeRoux's Broux said:
...In addition, brewers yeast will always contain some contaminants that need to be out-grown, and 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato has been found to be the best marriage of high pitching rates and no negative flavor effects (Higher pitching rates can lead to unhealthy yeast and a "yeasty" off bite)....

So....my 5 gallon batch of 1.052 beer (~13 Plato) needs ...[lots of math here]....about 250 million cells. The Wyeast smack pack claims 1 billion cells. Even if they're 50% off, its still more than double the "best marriage" rate. So why would I ever want a starter? Did I miscalculate here or am I missing something? :confused:
 

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Driftwood said:
Interesting and very helpful. But here's a question:

They say that excessive yeast growth will produce more flavor compounds... well, wouldn't you produce those anyway with a starter? I mean, you either pitch without a starter and get all this yeast growth in the fermenter (producing esters,etc...) or you make a starter, and you get lots of inital yeast growth in your starter, but also producing esters,etc... so when you dump your starter into the fermenter, all the esters go with it anyway?

So as far as this benefit to starters goes, I don't see the difference... :confused:
You asked my question :).
 

Driftwood

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vtfan99 said:
So....my 5 gallon batch of 1.052 beer (~13 Plato) needs ...[lots of math here]....about 250 million cells. The Wyeast smack pack claims 1 billion cells. Even if they're 50% off, its still more than double the "best marriage" rate. So why would I ever want a starter? Did I miscalculate here or am I missing something? :confused:
Somewhere, you're off by a factor of 1000 it seems... I have no idea how to calculate this, but at this site (http://www.whitelabs.com/homebrew.html) they say a 12 Plato, 5 gal batch requires 240 BILLION cells...

So whats a Plato?
 

vtfan99

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Driftwood said:
Somewhere, you're off by a factor of 1000 it seems... I have no idea how to calculate this, but at this site (http://www.whitelabs.com/homebrew.html) they say a 12 Plato, 5 gal batch requires 240 BILLION cells...

So whats a Plato?

Ok...that would make much more sense. Guess that means it will be very difficult to every over-pitch. If I start with 1 billion cells in a wyeast pack, I would have to make one hell of a starter in order to step it up to 240 billion. Guess I'll have to settle for less than perfection. :cool:

Plato is another way to measure the sugar levels in wort and beer.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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a starter will about double the cell count of your initial yeast vial/pack. i pitch the whole starter into the wort. a 1 qt starter into 5.5 gallons of wort, IMO, will not affect the flavor of the finished beer.
here's a little snipet of info i found about ester development in beer for you:

Esters are considered the most important aroma compounds in beer. They make up the largest family of beer aroma compounds and in general impart a "fruity" character to beer. Esters are more desirable in ales than in lagers. Kunze reports that ester production is increased by 1) high fermentation temperatures, 2) restricting wort aeration, 3) increasing the attenuation limit, and 4) increasing the wort concentration to above 13% P (30). In addition, the type of yeast affects ester levels. Most of the esters are formed during primary fermentation, and some ester formation occurs during maturation. However, the level of esters could double with a long secondary fermentation (30).

too much yeast (400 billion cells per ml of wort) is bad, as well as to little yeast (5-10 billion cells per ml of wort). basically, it's under or over working the yeast. the starter gives you the ball park range that is effective for a 5 gallon batch of brew. an active starter pitched will reduce the lag times because it's already working (unlike White Labs vials or dry yeast) and give you a healthy, proper fermentation! your beer will love you 4 it!!!

did that help?
 

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DeRoux's Broux said:
there are several way's to skin a starter! :~)

the smack pack will work fine by itself, and taste a whole helluva lot better than the dried yeast.
For most beer styles, I am right there with you. However, I was just contemplating an Old ale/ English Strong Ale which is supposed to be malty and estery. It also contains a dose of brown sugar. I was thinking that one of the high quality dry yeasts might actually be *preferred* for that. Any thoughts on this everyone?

BTW, I just found the site and really like what I see here.

Pawndrifter
 

DeRoux's Broux

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hhhmmmmmm? i might go with White Labs WLP026 - Premium Bitter Ale Yeast - and a healthy starter for an Old Ale style. let that puppy condition for about 3 months and you'll have a winner! that's my $0.02.........
 
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