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Yeast w/ Starter/Activator????

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Oahu

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So I've been told by those more knowledgable than I (mostly on this board) that I need a liquid yeast with a starter/activator to make my beer the best it can be. This confuses me just a tiny bit as I am trying to buy my first kit.

It's a Midwest Supplies "Hanks Hefe Weizen" and I have four choices. Here is the descriptioon and the ingredients, and then my choices. Price is not really an object here.:

HANK'S HEFE WEIZEN

Wyeast is recommended for best results. Our ingredients for this recipe include 6 pounds of Wheat malt extract, 1 pound of light DME, 1/2 lb. Carapils malt, 1 oz. Tettnanger bittering hops, yeast, priming sugar and a muslin bag.


Hank's Hefe Weizen w/ 2 - 5 gram Doric Yeast $23.95 9 lbs.

Hank's Hefe Weizen w/ Weihenstephan Wheat WYeast $26.95 9 lbs.

Hank's Hefe Weizen w/ Weihenstephan Wheat Activator WYeast $27.95 9 lbs.

Hank's Hefe Weizen w/ White Lab Hefeweizen Ale Yeast $28.95 9 lbs.


Are any of these yeast choices liquid? What does it all mean? What is the difference between an activator and a starter?

Thanks in advance.
 

uglygoat

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the first one sounds like two packets of dried brewers yeast.

the next three are liquid yeasts, there are two different brands the white labs and the wyeast.... the two most likely come in plastic vials that you have to make a starter for. the activator is most likely a smack pack, you 'smack it' breaking open a little bit of yeast nutrients to help the yeast colony grow (similar to what a homemade starter would do)

hope that helps.

:)

edit: a starter is a small batch of wort you prepare for the yeast to grow on (usually twenty-four hours in advance)... it helps start your fermentation quicker than if you just pitched a vial of yeast in there. an activator is similar, except you don't have to mix up a batch yourself, it's done at the lab and usually comes in a smack pack, a vacuum sealed foil contaner that you hit, breaking open the yeast nutrients which mix with the yeast and it's usually ready to go in several hours...
 
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Oahu

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Okay, I think I get it.

A starter is some Mini-Wort I make up before I start brewing to multipy the yeast and get them out of dormancy.

An activator is kind the same thing, except all I have to do is smack the pack? I think I understand.

So to make a starter, I would just take some of the DME that comes with the kit,Boil it for the same amount of time I would have boiled my true Wort, and then add the liquid yeast to it. Then wait 24 hours and put this into the wort after I have cooled it down to below 80 degrees.

Does that sound about right?

(btw- thanks t1master!)
 

uglygoat

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there's a thousand ways to make a starter...

the ratio should generally be ten ounces of water mixed with one tablespoon of dme, boil for 10-15 minutes(you want at least thirty oz of starter), let cool down to pitching temp, combine your wort with the yeast in a vessel and seal it with an airlock... you can use a grolsh style bottle and just cap it a little looser, beware the blast when you open it though :)
 
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Oahu

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So the extra dollar I pay for the Smack Pack will cut out the starter steps? Or is it generally agreed upon that "started" yeast is better than it's "smacked" cousin and therefore I should probably save my dollar for the best possible beer?
 
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Oahu said:
So the extra dollar I pay for the Smack Pack will cut out the starter steps? Or is it generally agreed upon that "started" yeast is better than it's "smacked" cousin and therefore I should probably save my dollar for the best possible beer?
My opinion, you're better off doing a starter. Get yourself #1 of light DME and it'll last you quite a while. I do 1/3 cup DME to 1 cup water. Boil it for 15m and add it to a vessel where you can use an airlock. Toss your liq yeast in at proper temp. Do this 24-36h before your brew day. When pitching time comes, shake up your starter a bit to get the yeast off the bottom and pitch it in.
 

vtfan99

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Oahu said:
...is it generally agreed upon that "started" yeast is better than it's "smacked" cousin...
This is a debate that could last for years :D The Wyeast Activator smack pack is a newer product than their original smack pack. The number of cells included in the smack packs seems to always be increasing, even in the short 3 years since I've been brewing. I have always read and been told to "make a starter", and that had been my practice. However, a couple of batches ago I had forgotten to make one. I went ahead and just pitched the Activator pack. I didn't notice anything different...lag time, ferment time, flavor....nothing. So now I just pitch pack and don't bother with a starter. I do have to say that if you are making a high gravity beer, you probably should make a starter to ensure there is enough yeast for your fermentables. But again....its just a matter of preference. I bet if we took a vote, it'd be pretty evenly split.
 
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