Yeast starter flask size?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

mjs483

Active Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
35
Reaction score
0
I'm new to yeast starters and I'm trying to figure out which size pyrex/erlenmeyer flask size I should buy to do starters in. I'd like to be able to do up to 2 (maybe even 3) liter starters. I'm assuming that a 2000ml flask is does not have enough head space for a 2 liter starter....is this true? I'd like to know before I spend the money on a pricey 4000ml - 5000ml flask. Are there other alternatives to the flasks that are just as good?
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
26,383
Reaction score
6,301
Location
Whitehouse Station
You wouldn't want to start with 2 liters anyway so you're not going to have explosive krausen. You'd start smaller and build it up. I just got my first flask, 2 liters... and it seems a little big to be honest. It will barely fit on my DIY stirplate in the works. I think for most 10 gallon batches, a 1 liter would be fine. I might go 1.5 with an Imperial somethingorother. A 4 liter starter is like half a batch size.. you might as well pitch on a yeast cake.
 

mr x

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 26, 2007
Messages
1,576
Reaction score
6
Location
Mainly Halifax
I like my 5 litre flask from morebeer. Gives me lots of head room, and my experience is I need 1 litre of space. A 3 litre starter is good for higher gravity beer, I harvest the rest for future use.
 
OP
OP
mjs483

mjs483

Active Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
35
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the links, that one on how to make a starter is actually an excerpt from the book I'm using to learn about how to make a starter =)
 
OP
OP
mjs483

mjs483

Active Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
35
Reaction score
0
Also, Bobby M, I don't understand why I wouldn't want to start with 2 liters. You mentioned "building up to 2 liters". According to the above link and the book I have, to make a 2 liter starter I'd add water to 200 grams of DME until I have 2 liters total. Then boil etc etc.

It also says that a 2 liter starter generally doubles the cell count in a white labs vial or smack pack. So if I have a recipe that calls for 2 vials of yeast (which I do) then I could use 2 vials alone or make a 2 liter starter from 1 vial. Is that right or am I missing something? I don't wanna end up with franken-yeast...
 

kedash

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
145
Reaction score
7
Location
Brewgene, Oregon
Also, Bobby M, I don't understand why I wouldn't want to start with 2 liters. You mentioned "building up to 2 liters". According to the above link and the book I have, to make a 2 liter starter I'd add water to 200 grams of DME until I have 2 liters total. Then boil etc etc.

It also says that a 2 liter starter generally doubles the cell count in a white labs vial or smack pack. So if I have a recipe that calls for 2 vials of yeast (which I do) then I could use 2 vials alone or make a 2 liter starter from 1 vial. Is that right or am I missing something? I don't wanna end up with franken-yeast...

I know Bobby M knows a lot more about brewing than I do, but what he wrote also contradicted what I have been told and read.

I brew 11 gallon batches, split that into two fermenters. I make two 2L starters (one for each fermenter) and pitch the slurry after decanting most of the beer. I also use stirplates and foam control (fermcap). I have not had a problem with overflow since I started using the fermcap. All of the high-gravity beers I have made this way have come out excellent. OG's have ranged from 1.084 down to about 1.060. Also, I have pitched the slurry cold with no negative results. Some people (Denny Conn) even advocate pitching cold.

To sum it up, I like the 2L size and would like to add a 5L to step-up for those really big beers.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2009
Messages
35,611
Reaction score
15,433
Location
☀️ Clearwater, FL ☀️
I started with a 4L flask. I don't know how the heck I would have made a 2L work. For 10g batches, I grow a lot of yeast (4L, decant, 4 more).

Also, if you boil in the flask, you'll want a large one to avoid boilovers.
 

Catt22

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
4,998
Reaction score
87
I know Bobby M knows a lot more about brewing than I do, but what he wrote also contradicted what I have been told and read.

I brew 11 gallon batches, split that into two fermenters. I make two 2L starters (one for each fermenter) and pitch the slurry after decanting most of the beer. I also use stirplates and foam control (fermcap). I have not had a problem with overflow since I started using the fermcap. All of the high-gravity beers I have made this way have come out excellent. OG's have ranged from 1.084 down to about 1.060. Also, I have pitched the slurry cold with no negative results. Some people (Denny Conn) even advocate pitching cold.

To sum it up, I like the 2L size and would like to add a 5L to step-up for those really big beers.

I've been doing almost exactly what you describe for a long time with excellent results. I often pitch cold and always do so for lagers.
 

Catt22

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
4,998
Reaction score
87
I started with a 4L flask. I don't know how the heck I would have made a 2L work. For 10g batches, I grow a lot of yeast (4L, decant, 4 more).

Also, if you boil in the flask, you'll want a large one to avoid boilovers.

I boil in 2 liter flasks regularly and typically fill them in excess of 2200 ml to just below the narrow neck level. I do use foam control. I also use a small hot plate to heat the flask. I know what setting will bring the wort to a boil without causing a boil over.
 

remilard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
3,654
Reaction score
55
Location
Kansas City
I use a 2L flask and a stir plate. With foam control drops, I can make a 2L starter in it.

2L with on Wyeast or White Labs package is enough more most ales. Rarely for an ale I need 2 in 2L and usually for a lager I need 2 in 2L. I repitch a lot for lagers so I only make like 2-3 lager starters a year even though easily 25% of what I brew is lagers.
 

kedash

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
145
Reaction score
7
Location
Brewgene, Oregon
I know Bobby M knows a lot more about brewing than I do, but what he wrote also contradicted what I have been told and read.

I brew 11 gallon batches, split that into two fermenters. I make two 2L starters (one for each fermenter) and pitch the slurry after decanting most of the beer. I also use stirplates and foam control (fermcap). I have not had a problem with overflow since I started using the fermcap. All of the high-gravity beers I have made this way have come out excellent. OG's have ranged from 1.084 down to about 1.060. Also, I have pitched the slurry cold with no negative results. Some people (Denny Conn) even advocate pitching cold.

To sum it up, I like the 2L size and would like to add a 5L to step-up for those really big beers.

I forgot to add that I don't boil in the flask (since I fill them so high). I use a stock pot and then pour into the the 2L flasks.

Put the starters on a rimmed cookie sheet if you think they might blow over while they are doing "their thing" if you want to make cleanup easier. However, since using the fermcap, I haven't had that problem once.

For a 2L starter, my boil size is 2309ml with 209 Grams of Light DME. This leaves me (after evaporation from the boil) with 1875 ml of starter wort, to which I had the 125 ml Wyeast Activator (a.k.a. smack-pack). The final result is a 2L flask filled perfectly to the 2L mark. This starter wort has a gravity of 1.040. I can give you the #'s for making 4L worth of starter wort if you need them and I can also convert this from metric to quarts/gallons/ounces if you want me to.

Have fun!
 

Henrythe9th

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
326
Reaction score
6
Location
Redmond OR
I have 1ltr. flask and after the first stepping it goes into a 1 gal. jug,
my DIY stir plate has no problem spinning a vortex to the bottom of the 1 gal. jug 3/4 full.
that's gets pitched into 11 to 13gal wort
 

mjohnson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
580
Reaction score
34
Location
New Jersey
Fermcap helps a ton. I routinely do 1.7L starters in a 2L flask and boil the wort right in the flask. I would not attempt this without fermcap.
 

mpcluever

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Messages
640
Reaction score
44
Location
here
I also use a gallon jug on the stir plate. When you get the jug, just check the bottom that it has a nice flat plateau in the middle.
 

Bsquared

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
1,816
Reaction score
72
Location
San Diego
This was posted yesterday for 5000ml flasks.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/erlenmeyer-flasks-326889/

I have a 6000ml, most 10g batches im making 2000-3000ml starters, and for bigger beers batches Im making 4L+. Its also good to have as much surface area as posable for gas exchange. In the ideal laboratory setting you should be using a flask at least twice the volume of media that will be in it, at least thats the way we do it where I work.
 
Top