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Yeast starter or not??

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joshpooh

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brandonp22 said:
When do I need to use a yeast starter? When is one not necessary?

Anytime using liquid yeast I would use one, any time using dry yeast its not neccesary and probably a hinderance.
 

FlyGuy

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If you are using a very fresh batch of liquid yeast (either White Labs tube or especially the Wyeast Activator packs) and your beer is 1.045 OG or less (assumes 5 gallon batch), you don't need one. Otherwise, always make one, and it should be scaled relative to the gravity of your brew and the age of your yeast. See the Pitching Rate Calculator at MrMalty.com for full details.

If you are using dry yeast, it is recommended to rehydrate before pitching (unless it is a really small beer). It is generally not recommended that you make a starter with dry yeast because generally properly rehydrated yeast are going to be as healthy and viable (or possibly moreso) than dry yeast from a starter. If you need to get the yeast cell count up, say for a big batch, just pitch more than one packet of rehydrated yeast. Often, the cost of making the starter (e.g., cost of the DME) is more than another packet of dry yeast. :mug:
 

DAAB

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Always use one with liquid yeasts to ensure the correct pitching rate (unless you can count the yeasts cells you are pitching). Pitching less that the optimum amount (under pitching) can result in the production of fusel alcohols and excessive levels of esters and diacetyl. It can also result in long lag times, slow fermentation and or under attenuation.

You should expect a lag time of 24hrs or less, any more and you are inviting trouble. To cut this down, prepare your starter early, let your starter ferment out fully, pour off the spent starter medium (beer) and add a little cooled wort collected 10 mins into the boil to ensure it is sanitised, shake it all up to aerate and pitch when it is active.

If that sounds like too much work, use dried yeasts. 1x11g sachet contains sufficient yeast cells for 6 usg of wort up to approx 1048 iirc...more info here Yeast Pitching Info
 

PseudoChef

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FlyGuy said:
If you are using a very fresh batch of liquid yeast (either White Labs tube or especially the Wyeast Activator packs) and your beer is 1.045 OG or less (assumes 5 gallon batch), you don't need one. Otherwise, always make one, and it should be scaled relative to the gravity of your brew and the age of your yeast. See the Pitching Rate Calculator at MrMalty.com for full details.
According to the pitching rate calculator, your beer needs to be 1.028 or lower before you don't need a starter. That's with the freshest yeast possible and intermittent shaking.
 

FlyGuy

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PseudoChef said:
According to the pitching rate calculator, your beer needs to be 1.028 or lower before you don't need a starter. That's with the freshest yeast possible and intermittent shaking.
You are right -- I stand corrected.

That's wierd, because I have been using those numbers for a while now, and I am sure that I got them from Jamil's calculator (albeit the previous version). But I checked the math on the new calculator manually, and it is correct.

One note -- Jamil uses George Fix's high end of recommended pitching rates in his calculator. While I trust Jamil's advice, I consistently pitch a little lower than he suggests and get excellent results. Also note that every commercial yeast manufacturer's website that I have come across suggest pitching rates that are lower than Jamil's (actually, closer to the lower end suggested by Fix). I suspect that Jamil is very liberal in his pitching rates to be safe, while the yeast manufacturers are quite conservative to be cost effective. So as long as you are in this range, you are probably safe.
 

DAAB

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Fix's figures are quite low, commercial pitching rates for an ale are often [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif]1 million cells per milliliter [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif]per degree Plato rather than 0.75 million cells/ml/deg plato. That's not to say Fix was wrong, I suspect commercials include a safety margin when it comes to pitching rates.
[/FONT]
 

PseudoChef

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FlyGuy said:
You are right -- I stand corrected.

That's wierd, because I have been using those numbers for a while now, and I am sure that I got them from Jamil's calculator (albeit the previous version). But I checked the math on the new calculator manually, and it is correct.

One note -- Jamil uses George Fix's high end of recommended pitching rates in his calculator. While I trust Jamil's advice, I consistently pitch a little lower than he suggests and get excellent results. Also note that every commercial yeast manufacturer's website that I have come across suggest pitching rates that are lower than Jamil's (actually, closer to the lower end suggested by Fix). I suspect that Jamil is very liberal in his pitching rates to be safe, while the yeast manufacturers are quite conservative to be cost effective. So as long as you are in this range, you are probably safe.
Yes, I do agree with this. I do believe Jamil is on the high-end when talking about pitching rates. I'm pretty sure he is still re-working the calculator to give a better understanding, but something like that can't encompass all types of beer where some you may even want to underpitch to drive yeast flavors.

Regardless, I would always suggest at least making a small starter to ensure that your yeast is actually viable. I would also always rehydrate dried yeast for the same purpose.
 

archmaker

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Second time I used a starter and I was glad that I did.

I am not an expert (far from it!) but I layed out my vial of WLP002 out in the morning wrapped in a towel, so it would warm up gradually.

Got home late that night, go my starter ready to go, shook my vial and looked at it and looked good. Opened and when I went to dump it into the starter it was a pretty solid plug of yeast. Couldn't tell it while it was in the vial, because some of it did dissolve.

Well with the use of a starter and stirplate it broke up the "chunk" and 5 hours after I put my starter into primary I had fermentation.

What did the starter do, reduce my worry. I knew I had time, I knew that if I had not used a starter and had put that chunk in the primary, and then have a slow start on the fermantation I would have worried.

I liked knowing having to worry about one less thing at the end of a 4-5 hour brew cycle is nice.
 

RegionalChaos

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I'm planning on brewing up my second batch soon. An IPA made with WLP041, pacific ale yeast. I'm not sure what the O.G. will be yet, since it is a custom 5 gallon recipe. Some people have said that they will use starters if it is at all a liquid yeast, but the White Labs folks say the yeast should be good as is until an O.G. of 1.060 or more.

Should I make a yeast starter with this? As it is only my second batch, it definitely seems like there is a lot to learn and experience, and this adds to all that. Alternatively, if people feel like a starter is needed, could I just pitch two vials instead of one? Also, with starters I've heard that you can over pitch. If the W.L. vial is made for 5 gallons, wouldn't a starter end up over pitching?

My last batch was with WLP001, no starter, and the ferment did take a while to start and take a while to finish.

Thanks for all the info, I really appreciate it.
 

Pugilist

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To add some more to the argument of making starters. I made my first starter on sunday and pitched it today at 2pm into my SNPA clone. There is a solid 1-2inches of krausen on the surface already and the bubbler is going about every 4-8secs.

That is more proof that a starter helps the beer take off fast and healthy! Thanks to the help from the folks on this forum as usual for guiding.

Forgot to add I used Wyeast american ale 1056. Packaged on 1/22/08, so was VERY fresh.
 

fezzman

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Pugilist said:
To add some more to the argument of making starters. I made my first starter on sunday and pitched it today at 2pm into my SNPA clone. There is a solid 1-2inches of krausen on the surface already and the bubbler is going about every 4-8secs.

That is more proof that a starter helps the beer take off fast and healthy! Thanks to the help from the folks on this forum as usual for guiding.

Forgot to add I used Wyeast american ale 1056. Packaged on 1/22/08, so was VERY fresh.
Well that gives me some hope. I created a starter on Saturday night with the intention of brewing Sunday night. Needless to say, I wasn't able to brew until today. I'm going to start in about 1/2 hour.

*crosses fingers*
 

DAAB

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Why not always make a starter, they are cheap and easy to do, they ensure the yeast you pitch is new and healthy and active and you wont get any problems with fermentation.
 

DAAB

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That's an imperial gallon (20% larger than a US gallon). The correct ratio is up to 100g per liter (1/2 an imperial gallon is 2.275L)
I say up to because some people prefer to make lower gravity starters, fwiw I use the above ratio to produce roughly a 1040 wort.
 

RegionalChaos

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DAAB said:
That's an imperial gallon (20% larger than a US gallon). The correct ratio is up to 100g per liter.
Damn non-metric measurements...

So for half a US gallon of water I want to add about 189g (0.416 lbs) of DME? I think my math is OK for that.. Anyway, sounds like fun. I'll be making 5 gallon batches. If memory servers, most people are pitching starters that are around a pint to a pint and a half in size for that?

Thanks for all the help!
 

DAAB

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You want to keep the same volume as Jim and up the dme so thats about 1/2lb per 4.8 us pints (it wont hurt if you go for 5pts)

(I wont be offended if someone checks my math :D )
 

jdoiv

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DAAB said:
Fix's figures are quite low, commercial pitching rates for an ale are often [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif]1 million cells per milliliter [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif]per degree Plato rather than 0.75 million cells/ml/deg plato. That's not to say Fix was wrong, I suspect commercials include a safety margin when it comes to pitching rates.
[/FONT]

Yeah, I wouldn't want to underpitch 100 BBL batch and have it get infected or not pass QC. That could be an expensive mistake.....
 

DAAB

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100bbls down the river would be heart breaking.

imo if a brewer can't make a stater they should stick with dried yeast.
 

BrewDey

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I'm starting to wash and save yeast, and thus I'm beginning to use starters more regularly. I've used 2 cups of DME in 2 pints of water. Not really sure of this gravity, but it got those babies going really good on the last batch. Is this a pretty good ratio?
 

SuperiorBrew

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BrewDey said:
I'm starting to wash and save yeast, and thus I'm beginning to use starters more regularly. I've used 2 cups of DME in 2 pints of water. Not really sure of this gravity, but it got those babies going really good on the last batch. Is this a pretty good ratio?
If you have access to a pressure cooker, spend a 2-3 hours some day when you are bored and can up a buttload of quarts, it is so handy to be able crack open a room temperature quart or two and dump them into the flask, pitch the yeast and set it on the stirplate. the whole process with sanitizing and clean up is less than 5 minutes.

Dam I need to can some 5 and 10 gallon hopped batches, then when I need beer I could dump it into the carboy and just pitch my yeast :D :D :D
 

DAAB

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Sorry, don't know the weight of 2 cups of dme but for 2 us pints 31/2 oz would be about right.
 

BrewDey

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DAAB said:
Sorry, don't know the weight of 2 cups of dme but for 2 us pints 31/2 oz would be about right.
The one sticky I read on here I believe called for 1 cup for 1 pint...so I just doubled both.
 

DAAB

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BrewDey said:
The one sticky I read on here I believe called for 1 cup for 1 pint...so I just doubled both.
I'm sure it's right but it's worth weighing out next time. A 2 pint starter is roughly the same as 1L which is about the smallest starter you want to make for an average gravity wort (1040 ish).
 

Yooper

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I think the best way to get a 1.040 starter is 1/2 cup DME to 1 pint water, so that's not correct. 1 cup DME would be twice as much DME as suggested.

Awesome photo how to, by the way, SuperiorBrew!
 

FlyGuy

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^ +1 to what Yooper said. Back off on the DME and your starters will perform better.

The only problem with that illustration, though, is that it forgets to mention that you should aerate that starter wort. Unless you do that, there is no point in making the starter at all.
 
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