# Yeast starter for high gravity beer

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#### tlsmart1

##### Member
I'm planning to brew a 1.080 OG ale and would like to make a yeast starter. The Mr. Malty Pitching Calculator suggests 2.66 liters of starter if I intermittently shake it. But I'm confused about how to make this volume of starter.

"How to Brew" suggests making starters with 0.5 quart of water and 0.5 cup DME. It goes on to say, "(t)he starter process may be repeated several times to provide more yeast to ensure an even stronger fermentation." I assume that he doesn't mean pitching a packet of yeast into each starter when repeating the process - does he mean making more wort and adding to the starter after it has fermented for a while? Also, to get to 2.66 liters I'd have to make 5 or six starters using this repeated process - doesn't make sense. Do I make 3 liters of wort in the beginning, pitch the yeast into 1 liter, and and a liter per day the next 2 days? Or do I make a 3 liter starter and throw in a single yeast packet right off the bat? Or is there something else that I'm missing?

Thanks

#### TipsyDragon

##### Well-Known Member
save the head ache just pitch 2 vials of liquid yeast. one should be enough two is more than enough.

OP
T

#### tlsmart1

##### Member
Even though Mr. Malty says 3 packs are necessary? Also, if 1 is enough then can I conclude that I could make a starter with a single pack the way Palmer suggests (without repeating) and assume that would be plenty?

#### Yooper

##### Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Mod
Even though Mr. Malty says 3 packs are necessary? Also, if 1 is enough then can I conclude that I could make a starter with a single pack the way Palmer suggests (without repeating) and assume that would be plenty?
Yes, if you start with a smaller starter and "step up" by adding fresh wort, you will have enough yeast for your 1.080 ale.

You can start with the larger volume, but many of us start small, about a week before brewday. After the first wort is fermented out, you can add the second fresh wort. After that is fermented out, you can step it up again, until you are at the right quantity. You want to make sure you have a large quanitity of healthy yeast for a bigger beer like that.

#### TipsyDragon

##### Well-Known Member
liquid yeast vials have more yeast in them than a dry yeast packet and you don't have to rehydrate them.

but listen to YooperBrew he's right as well.

#### Zen_Brew

##### Well-Known Member
A 1.080 beer is going to do much better with a correctly sized starter. There are a couple ways to accomplish this with a smaller sized starter. I'm going to assume you have a 2000ml flask, or access to 1/2 gallon growlers as you didn't state what you would be using.

The first way is to make a starter and let it complete. You can then add more wort to bring it up to your desired final volume and repeat the process. The problem here looks to be that you do not have a vessel large enough for 2.6 liters. You could also split the first starter at this point into two vessels and add wort to both to grow a larger colony.

The next deviation is after the first starter is complete you can refrigerate to get the yeast to flocculate out then decant the beer. Move about 2/3 to 3/4 of the yeast from this starter to a sterile mason jar or other vessel and refrigerate, then pith the remaining yeast into another starter. when the second starter is done refrigerate and decant as well. Then use both in the beeer. This process obviously will take you several days.

If you are strapped for time, the way I would recommend is to get two starter vessels at once. You can use 1/2 gallon growlers, or even well sanitized 1/2 gallon milk jugs. Split your yeast vial into both vessels and make two 1.3 liter-ish starters simultaneously, each with 1/2 the vial of yeast. The yeast will have a bit more stress making the larger starter, but not enough to worry about. I have made 1.2 liter starters from 1/2 a vial before with no ill effects.

The final thing you could do if you if you are concerned with growing the starter with 1/2 a vial is to buy two vials of yeast and make two starters as described above.

#### Brew-boy

##### Well-Known Member
With each step up and more handling you do the greater the risk of possible problems, like infections and cross contamination. I would rather see 2 vials pitched into a a larger starter and then have the right amount one time done.

#### Yooper

##### Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Mod
liquid yeast vials have more yeast in them than a dry yeast packet and you don't have to rehydrate them.

but listen to YooperBrew he's right as well.
Thanks for the vote of confidence Tipsy. but psssst- I'm a girl!

Actually that's backwards- there are more yeast cells in a package of 11 gm dry yeast than in a package of liquid yeast. The liquid yeast have on average 100 million cells. Even Wyeast's website tells you to make a starter for anything over 1.060 OG, and recommends it other times (like lagers, or when you want to decrease lag time).

#### Zen_Brew

##### Well-Known Member
but listen to YooperBrew he's right as well.
He sure is, he's kinda cute too.

#### Yooper

##### Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Mod
He sure is, he's kinda cute too.
I'm sorry. That's funny. I know it's but it sure is funny!

#### TipsyDragon

##### Well-Known Member
hay look you learn something new every day.

#### powderbock

##### Well-Known Member
very easy way to calculate a starter. 1 gram of dry malt extract for every 10 ml of water.
50 g in a 1/2 liter starter
100g in a liter starter.
260 grams for a 2.6 liter starter (although this is a rather big starter with out using a step up)

#### SpanishCastleAle

##### Well-Known Member
I would just make one 2.5L-3L starter from one pack/vial. You won't be underpitching the starter unless you make a really big one and your yeast has very low viability. You can use the Mr Malty pitch rate calculator to check if you're way under pitching the starter (very slightly under pitching is fine/good).

Those packs/vials 'allegedly' have around 100B cells when 100% viable (make sure to use the 'viability by date' feature of the pitch rate calc). If you make a 1 gal starter @ 1.040 you only need about 28B cells (per the Mr Malty pitch rate calc for a 1 gal 'batch' @ 1.040). So you would still be fine if your yeast was only ~25% viable.

With starters that large, make it enough ahead of time so you can let it settle and decant off almost all the liquid...imo.

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks for the vote of confidence Tipsy. but psssst- I'm a girl!
Beer-drinkin', beer- MAKIN', hockey-playin' girl!

OP
T

#### tlsmart1

##### Member
I don't have any of the equipment for a starter yet, so all options are still open. Maybe I'll just get 2 vials of yeast and 2 2-liter jars - that way I could make 2 starters at once. I played around with making a stir plate today, and if I use that then Mr. Malty says 1.7 liters of starter is fine. Perhaps I could alternate the starters on the stir plate.

After decanting the wort do you need to let the yeast slurry warm up to room temperature before stepping up or pitching into the final beer?

#### Zen_Brew

##### Well-Known Member
After decanting the wort do you need to let the yeast slurry warm up to room temperature before stepping up or pitching into the final beer?
Yes. You should always try to put yeast into a wort that is very close to the same temperature they are already at so as not to shock them. I think if you are within 5 degrees F you are fine. The closer the better.

#### Julohan

##### Well-Known Member
My friend and I are doing a 1.080 belgian. I have a 5L flask. We are splitting up the batch into two 5 gallon fermenters. We forgot we needed to make a second starter with a second yeast package. What should I do? Mr. Malty calls for a 7.56L starter. We are just going to have to eyeball it when putting the yeast into each fermenter. We are brewing Sunday or Monday, and will not have the ability to make it to the LHBS.

#### Julohan

##### Well-Known Member
Or should I just do it as 5L and split the yeast up then?

#### a10t2

##### Well-Known Member
You *might* have time to do a two-stage starter, although you won't have time to decant either way. Personally I'd push back the brew date.

Anyway, since you say you're using a flask I'm assuming you have a stirplate. A 1 L starter, fermented out and then pitched into a 2.5 L starter, should get you where you need to be.

Yes. You should always try to put yeast into a wort that is very close to the same temperature they are already at so as not to shock them. I think if you are within 5 degrees F you are fine. The closer the better.
Actually some research suggests that pitching the yeast as cold as possible, and letting the wort warm them up, will maximize viability. I believe it has something to do with wanted them to remain dormant, and revive themselves in the wort.

#### monkamillion

##### Active Member
Is there an issue with using 3/4 cup DME and 4 qts with 1 vial of liquid yeast? I'm planning on a Belgian Tripel using WLP500. If I give it 2-3 days, will that produce a similar larger volume? I'm planning to use a 1 gal extract bucket. Much thanks!