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Making a Starter for Barleywine

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Noleafclover

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Heya folks!

I'm making my first barleywine.
For a recipe, I'm using one I found here created by Brewpastor - at this link: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f74/ag-water-into-barleywine-26724/

I've read in several places that for a high gravity beer like this, a big starter is required. Not only that, but I've also been reading that to make your best beer you should always use a starter.

I've never created a starter. I listended to a podcast by the Brew Strong folks about making a start and believe I can make one for a normal 1.040 beer. I also thought this pictoral was helpful: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/how-make-yeast-starter-pictorial-76101/.

However, I'm unclear what the difference between a starter for a 1.040 beer and a 1.106 Barleywine would be. Do I double the amount of DME used, then pitch the vial of WLP001 in? I've read that the starter for a beer this big needs to end up being a gallon in size...

Sorry for the probably very basic questions... Just trying to mature my brewing processes a little!

- Noleaf
 

scinerd3000

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you have a few options. The purpose of a starter is to build up the cell count of the yeast to a desirable level so they start fermentation in a timely manner as well as to make for healthier cell walls which facilitates healthier yeast. This tends to make infections harder to take hold.

When i do large beers i will usually make a small starter of 500 ml @1.040 SG and wait for it to ferment and then pitch into another larger starter of the same SG. Ive stepped up the gravity on starters also but i find that it is just a waste of DME. Some people pitch the vial into only one larger starter and i know of some who do the gallon starter in the bottom of a carboy they will be using for the beer. When fermentation done on their starter, they decant off the liquid and syphon there cooled beer onto the top of the yeast cake. This has the added advantage of not having to worry about sanitizing multiple containers.
 

Edcculus

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For beers that big, I'd suggest brewing up a 4-5% lightly hopped beer. Milds or even APA's in the low hop range would work. I did that for the Russian Imperial Stout I recently brewed. I pitched straight onto the yeast cake. Its usually better to pitch some of the slurry according to Mr Malty Pitching Rate Calculator.

If you don't want to do that, the calculator says you need about a 3.35L starter. Thats just shy of a gallon. Use the same ratio Jamil describes in this article.

Use a 10 to 1 ratio. Add 1 gram of DME for every 10 ml of final volume. (If you're making a 2 liter starter, add water to 200 grams of DME until you have 2 liters total.)
This is by weight of course.

You don't want to double the DME. A starter should always be in the 1.040 range. Remember, you are trying to make yeast, not acclimate them to a high gravity environment.
 

NotALamer

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Here's the section about starters on Palmer's online How To Brew site. Unfortunately I don't see the charts about cell counts that the book has, but it's still good info.

The pitching rate calculator will tell you how many cells you should pitch for a particular OG, but not how to get that many cells. It says you want 355 billion for a 5 gallon batch of 1.106 OG. A Wyeast Activator or tube of White Labs should have about 100 billion cells. The chart in HTB says that pitching this to a 4 qt starter should give you around 305 billion. Slightly short of where you want to be, but pretty close.
 

uechikid

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I would also oxygenate before pitching your yeast. With high gravity beer (if not oxygenated) the yeast can stall out from the lack of Oxygen. It just happened to me a couple of months ago.
 

Beerrific

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The pitching rate calculator will tell you how many cells you should pitch for a particular OG, but not how to get that many cells.
This one? Yeah it does, it tells you how many packs you need or you can move the slider and go to less packs and X liters of starter.
 

shek

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Does anyone have an idea how many cells would be in the yeast cake from a previous 5G batch? I'm making a lighter beer right now, but I'm just going to try to drop my next batch (either a BW or IIPA) right onto the previous cake. I would assume it should be sufficient.
 

scinerd3000

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Does anyone have an idea how many cells would be in the yeast cake from a previous 5G batch? I'm making a lighter beer right now, but I'm just going to try to drop my next batch (either a BW or IIPA) right onto the previous cake. I would assume it should be sufficient.
for the most part the correct pitch is 1/4 to 1/3 of the yeast cake
 

Killer_Robot

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I just put this recipe into secondary last week. I'd washed my yeast from a previous lighter beer, so I took a jar of that and mixed a starter with a bottle of Malta Goya cut 1:1 with water. Maybe it was more than I needed, but I figured overpitching was better than underpitching. It went from 1.102 to 1.020 and tasted pretty good going to secondary for such a strong beer, so no complaints here. :)
 

yeoldebrewer

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I know a large starter is best. But would double pitching a re-hydrated dry yeast such as Notty or Safale-05 be out of the question for a brew like this?
 

Baja_Brewer

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I know a large starter is best. But would double pitching a re-hydrated dry yeast such as Notty or Safale-05 be out of the question for a brew like this?
Not speaking from personal experience, but from what I've read on here that would not be out of the question at all. I've read several accounts of people doing that instead of building a starter and they've had very good success (~1.100 down to ~1.012 or so.) This is where knowing the cell count in packages comes in helpful, then you can get your correct pitching rate straight from packages.
 

Edcculus

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I know a large starter is best. But would double pitching a re-hydrated dry yeast such as Notty or Safale-05 be out of the question for a brew like this?
Yes, just make sure you pitch enough. Use the calculator that was linked to earlier. There is an option for dry yeast. You will probably only need 1 package, but check to make sure.
 

Dave Sarber

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It's pretty tough to overpitch a big beer. I frequently do high grav imperial stouts, and a good choice is 2 packs of Safale 05. It's a pretty neutral tasting yeast, so it's not going to mess up the taste. No experience with the Notty, but lots of people swear by it, and would probably be a good choice for a high grav barleywine.
 
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