Yeast Starter Size

I will be brewing Antithesis Saison du Vin “extract” kit this weekend, original gravity of 1066. I will be using Wyeast 3711 French Saison and making a starter with Fast Pitch. This will be my second time making a yeast starter. How do you tell what size the starter should be? With his being a higher alcohol beer should I use 2 cans of fast pitch “making it a 2L starter”? Is there a specific range of original gravity where you make the jump from a 1L starter to a 2L? Appreciate any help and feed back :smile:

I will always use a starter/pitch rate calculator for determining the size of a starter. The size of starter needed is not only based on the estimated OG of the beer being brewed but on the viability of the yeast on hand. Yeast loses viability as it ages. This calculator uses what I think is the best viability calculator available for brewers to determine the size of the starter.

Thank you for the reply. Since I am using Fast Pitch, should I leave the “DME Needed” at the default of 101? Also, I noticed that Northern Brewer advertises their original gravity without a decimal. Am I correct to assume that an original gravity of 1066 is 1.066?

Correct, the OG would be 1.066 for the wort.

The default of 101 grams of DME in a one liter starter results in the ratio of almost 10:1. 100 grams of DME to 1 liter (1000 ml) would be mathematically correct. I don’t know why 101 grams shows up as the default.

Since you are using Fast Pitch your starter will need to be in even increments. Fast Pitch starter wort in the can has a SG close to 1.080. This needs to be diluted with one can of brewing water to bring the SG to 1.040. (1.038 to 1.040 is considered a good starter wort SG). It is possible to use part of a can, but then you wouldn’t be able to store the remainder without the risk of contamination.

Be sure to use the same water for your starter as you use for brewing, water without chlorine or chloramines. Municipal water can be treated with Campden to remove chlorine and chloramines.

Does this help? If I’m confusing you just say so.
EDIT: What is the production date on the package of WY 3711? What is the fermentor volume? I’ll go into the calculator to look at starter size.

Huge help. The WY711 will be arrive on Monday, I will defiantly keep you posted. This batch is for my friends bachelor party and want to make sure it turns out great for him. Just picked up a stir plate as well. I really appreciate the help and will keep you posted when the WY11 arrives. Thank you gain!

Production date of the yeast was 11/29/15. I enter everything on the website you provided and it does say I need 2 liters. If you can double check I would greatly appreciate it. Also, I am correct that I do not need to “smack” the yeast pack before adding it to the starter? Thanks again!

For 5 gallons in the fermentor?
According to the BU calculator you will need 229 billion cells. A 1.5 liter starter will propagate 275 billion cells. with Fast Pitch you will be making a 2 liter starter to avoid having a partial can leftover. A 2 liter starter will yield 346 billion cells. This means you could save 117 billion cells of this fresh yeast to use in a starter for you next fermentation. (You can also harvest the yeast from this fermentation to reuse.)

At the top of the calculator fill in 100 billion (instead of 117 for rounded numbers) in the over build cell. At the very bottom of the calculator it will give you the volume of the total starter to pitch and the volume to save. Pitch 1.4 liters, harvest 0.6 liters.

I will save the volume which fills a pint Mason jar almost to the rim to reduce the amount of air in the jar. The volume in the pint jar is about 475 milliliters. Both get refrigerated. The pitching volume will be decanted and the yeast pitched for the brew. I will sometimes pitch the entire volume of the starter if it is less than a liter.

It is not absolutely necessary to break the nutrient pack inside the smack pack, but it does give the yeast an immediate boost. the nutrient pack can be removed and poured into the starter wort if it doesn’t break.

Keep all tools sanitized. Even the scissors to open the Smack Pack.

I used hybrid in the calculation instead of Ale, Northern Brewer has it listed as a Hybrid Beers, Trappist/Belgian Ale. Will be a 5 gallon batch. Is it best to calculate this beer as a hybrid or Ale? Thanks again for the help and tips!

Had to look this up. You could go with the higher pitch rate for the high ABV the fermentation will produce. The higher pitch rate will not be detrimental whether or not it is needed. I usually go on the safe side and always slightly over pitch. Off flavors from over pitching don’t begin until there is a massive over pitch.

Doesn’t seem to be the typical hybrid. My understanding is a hybrid beer is produced with a hybrid yeast. A yeast like a lager yeast, but able to ferment clean in the ale yeast temperature range. WY 3711 is a standard Belgian yeast. I like brewing with this yeast.

It will ferment aggressively. Have your method of fermentation temperature control in place and start with a blow off tube installed.

Thanks again Flars, think i will go on the side of slightly over pitching for this one.

FWIW, 1.066 isn’t all that high gravity. Based on writings by S. Cerevisiae, who knows more about yeast than I thought you could know, I’ve drastically altered my yeast starter practices. Foe one thing, I no longer use a stir plate. My method now is to make 1 qt. of 1.035ish wort and put it in a gal. jug. Shake the crap out of it until the jug is pretty much full of foam, then pitch my yeast into it. Then the next day, or day after that, I pitch the entire thing into my beer…no decanting like I used to do, since the starter is so much smaller than I used to make. With this method, I have gotten yeast performance as good or better than when I made 2-3 qt. starters a week in advance and decanted before pitching. And it’s way easier and less time consuming. Yes, it sounds like heresy, but my expereince is that it’s a great method. Try it for yourself.

This too has become my MO after wading through the 28 pages. Not only is it easier, I have seen an improved fermentation (shorter lag time, better attenuation, cleaner flavors).

It’s so heretical that people almost refuse to believe it. But it’s the way everybody did it when I started brewing and the results when I tried it a few times speak for themselves.

@denny or @loopie_beer at what gravity would you suggest making more than a 1 qt starter in this manner? I have been using this method as well with great success and I don’t typically make beers over 1.065 or so, but may be experimenting in the near future with either a barley wine or RIS.

For a beer of that gravity, I always make a lower gravity batch first, then use the entire slurry from that batch for the BW or RIS. That way, you get another beer from your starter!

Like @denny said making a low gravity beer is your best option. Win-win. If you aren’t declined to do that you could do a 2L starter. I’ve found that you could still get away with the 2L in a 5L bottle. Just takes more shaking. I would also try 2 smack packs to the starter.

1 Like