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Tell me about yeast starters

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Reindeer

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I'm planning on brewing NB's Belgian Strong Golden Ale extract kit this weekend, which will be my 5th brew. The kit comes with 3 packets of Wyeast 1388. Its been suggested to use a yeast starter, which I haven't done before. What's the advantage of a yeast starter? I've read a few threads on it, but they're all a little over my head... Can someone give me some basics on the how's and why's of yeast starters?
 

kapbrew13

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Simple answer. You are trying to increase the healthy yeast count. With 3 vials on a 5 gallon kit, you might not need. Idk
 

brewkinger

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Yeah, simple answer with a little more detail.

That high original gravity means A LOT of fermentable sugar for the yeast to attack.

Problem is that the adaptive phase of the yeast in the presence of this much sugar can cause problems.
So a starter is basically a mini beer if you will. The specifics of which you will have to look up to get details as I do not use many starters.
Basically you mix some extract and water in a specific ratio, usually in a flask but a sanitized growler works as well and then put yeast in to start fermentation.
Stir a lot and wait a couple days and then pitch it onto the real beer.
As a post note, obviously you make the starter days ahead of your brewed beer.

Hope this helps!
 

brewkinger

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PS

You also want to boil the water/extract mixture like a real beer to drive out bacteria and not cause an infection in the process
 

Cyclman

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Starters do one or two things. One, grow your cell count to save money on yeast. Two, you can pitch a starter (mini beer) at "high kraeusen" which optimizes your fermentation start. Pitching a very high OG beer, or trying to re-start a stuck fermentation, this can be a great tool.
 

LovesIPA

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One thing I didn't see addressed here is the viability of yeast over time. Depending on how old the yeast (assuming liquid) are, you may not even have enough yeast in one package to do a good job fermenting one batch. A package has about 100 billion when it's packaged and by the time 3 months have passed half of the yeast is no longer viable.

If I were you, I would go to mrmalty's yeast calculator and make a starter. Starters are critical to making great beer.

OTOH if you feel that you are in over your head a little, and being your 5th brew I wouldn't be surprised at all if you were, you can just pitch the yeast you have and not worry about a starter. It will still come out fine and taste just like beer. Just keep in mind that starters will be in your future.
 

YeastHerder

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In general here is a simple recipe:

1 qt water + 1 cup DME, boil 15 minutes, cool to pitching temp, pour into a suitable container, pitch entire vial/packet of yeast. Give it a good swirl whenever you walk by it. Use about 36-48 hours later in your 5 gallon brew. I do at least this amount of starter for every 5-gallon brew.

For your specific situation, a high OG beer, you probably want to double the size of the recipe above and use two packets. The third packet seems like the kit makers are trying to cover for the situation where someone tries to go it without a starter..

To get more fancy and save on yeast, you can do 'step' starters, get a stir plate, rod, and beaker, and more..
 

RIC0

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It really is a simply process and is easy to "over think" how it works.

I look at it this way, if using dry yeast, use an online calculator to figure out how much you need. Buy enough dry yeast packs to do the job which is usually a pack and a half unless your way up on OG.

If that is not an option then create a starter with the yeast you have and the DME + water which I usually do 24hours or so before I pitch it.

If your using liquid yeast then DEFINITLY use a starter for high gravity beers.
 
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Reindeer

Reindeer

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I'm thinking for this batch since I already have 3 packets of yeast I'm going to try it without a starter. I'm a bit of a fan of big Belgian beers, so I'm sure I'll be doing another one in the future and I'll do the starter then.

Is there such a thing has too much yeast?
 

Schol-R-LEA

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Yes, but it is unlikely for your typical homebrewer to ever over-pitch. You would need a very large amount of yeast to over-pitch, more than most homebrewers could afford to make up at once.
 

eric19312

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Schol-R-LEA said:
Yes, but it is unlikely for your typical homebrewer to ever over-pitch. You would need a very large amount of yeast to over-pitch, more than most homebrewers could afford to make up at once.
This was my most recent pitch...just possibly was over for a 1.084 beer but not by more than 50%

 
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