WYeast Activator: starter vs yeast nutrient

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telemaster

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Greetings fellow brewers,
I ordered my first wyeast activator (1214) for an extract Belgian tripel. I do not have a stir plate or flask to make a starter, and am wondering if adding yeast nutrient will help at all?

According to wyeast:
The Activator is designed to deliver professional pitch rates (6 million cells/ ml.) when directly added to 5 gallons of wort. ( <1.060 at 70 degrees). However, if a package is slow to swell, suspected of being mishandled, or if the date is approaching the six month shelf life it is a good idea to build the culture up with a starter. High gravity or low temperature fermentations require higher pitch rates. This can be achieved with inoculating with additional packages or making a starter.
I expect the OG to be well over the starter/no starter threshold of 1.060. So the question is:

Do I need to make a starter for this bad boy, or if I add yeast nutrient in the appropriate amount (1 tsp/gallon), will that be sufficient?

If I do need to make a starter, what is your advice for someone without a stir plate or flask?

Thanks in advance. :mug:
 

Mencken

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I've made a starter before without a stir plate or a flask, and it worked great. I'm assuming you have a smack pack for the Wyeast? Bring it to room temp and smack it. Let it grow for a few hours. Then, for the starter itself, just boil a pint of water and half a cup of DME for about ten min, stirring occasionally, then cool it down. Then just mix the two in any sanitized container (I just use a gallon sized plastic tub that AHB ships their liquid extract in) and cover it with foil. Leave in a dark place, and it'll grow just fine.

If I'm doing the starter three days or so in advance, I'll throw a second batch of the same ratio of DME/water that's been boiled and cooled, just as a step up for the yeast.

Oh, and you can add a little hops to your starter mix too, if you want.
 

GreenwoodRover

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I don;t have experience with using nutrient/energizrer but...
You don't need a stirplate or flask to make a starter.
I use a 1/2 glass growler from my local brewpub. I've also used a empty sanatized 2liter pop (soda) bottle. I just start ti about 3-5 days before my brew day and I just give it a swirl any time I walk by it (3-5 times a day)...

EDIT: Mencken beat me to it....
 

Evan!

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Also, don't listen to that "1.060" cutoff. Unless that Activator pack was produced yesterday (and even then, I wouldn't be so sure), you can be assured that you don't have enough viable cells for anything above 1.040.

Go by JZ's pitching rate calculator.

According to the calculator, even if the yeast pack was produced today, anything over a 1.027 OG requires a starter, or multiple yeast packs. Let's say it was produced 2 months ago, which is fair. For wort that's 1.060 (OG), you'd need 4 packets, or a 4L starter (assuming no stirplate). That stuff they put on those activator packs is not good advice.
 

beersydoesit

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The point of the starter is to make more cells, not just feed the ones you have, so nutrient is not a replacement for a starter.

I your case a starter is needed, and Evan!'s link will also get you to a starter How-to.


Regards.
 
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telemaster

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Thank you much! My inexperience shows in the assumption I needed a flask and stir plate to make a starter. Glad to know that I don't.

Now, all I need to do is find some DME...

Is there anything that can be substituted instead of DME? I have a feeling it is going to be hard to find, and I don't feel like making a special order just for DME.
 

giligson

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If you are between a rock and a hard place then you can use dextrose or you can use table sugar - just make it up to standard gravity (1.030 to 1.050). The trouble with feeding the yeast simple sugars is that they might stall when you pitch them into your wort. I wonder if you can find "malt sugar" at your local supermarket in the baking section?
 

Evan!

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If you are between a rock and a hard place then you can use dextrose or you can use table sugar - just make it up to standard gravity (1.030 to 1.050). The trouble with feeding the yeast simple sugars is that they might stall when you pitch them into your wort. I wonder if you can find "malt sugar" at your local supermarket in the baking section?
You just invalidated the "rock/hard place" suggestion above. Do NOT use simple sugars in your starter, unless you're going to be fermenting only simple sugars in the beer.

You can't usually find anything like that at the regular grocery store, but chances are good that you can find Malta Goya, which is essentially just unhopped malt wort, at Mexican/Latin grocery stores.
 

Evan!

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Slightly OT, anyone using the cheaper propagators instead with a stir plate? If so, how do you handle the schedule? Smack a day earlier?
Propagators don't have the nutrient/wort blend, so you're not "smacking" them, and there's no activation in the pack. Hence why the smack packs are called "Activators".

I've used the propagators before, you just need to up the size of your starter, or step it up, because I don't think they have as many viable cells as the activators.
 

flyangler18

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That stuff they put on those activator packs is not good advice.
A caveat here is the pitching temperature that they suggest on the packaging - 70° - substantially higher than what most of us put into practice. They recommend pitching at 70 until fermentation is visible, then dropping down to the intended temp. Certainly not ideal, but it leaves them an out by saying the pack or vial is directly pitchable. Sneaky bastids. ;)

I'm a firm believer in proper pitching rates, regardless of what WL and WY put on their packaging. :)
 

batfishdog37

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Thank you much! My inexperience shows in the assumption I needed a flask and stir plate to make a starter. Glad to know that I don't.

Now, all I need to do is find some DME...

Is there anything that can be substituted instead of DME? I have a feeling it is going to be hard to find, and I don't feel like making a special order just for DME.
You could try to order some online:)
 

beersydoesit

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Can you use some extract from your kit?

Also I often pitch directly from Activator packs according to instructions and have had good results.

I don't think I'm the only one.

Regards
 
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telemaster

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I just found a somewhat local place that has some extra light DME in stock!!!! :rockin:

Can't wait for this tripel already... it's going to be ready in time for the holidays. It will be bulk aged in the basement for a few months. Did I mention I can't wait? Can't wait! Can't wait!
 

fratermus

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I just found a somewhat local place that has some extra light DME in stock!!!! :rockin:
This also functions as a Public Service Announcement: evahbody remember to throw in a pound or two of DME into your cart whenever you are at the LHBS or online store).
 
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