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pitching extra yeast vs. a yeast starter

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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:28 pm

pitching extra yeast vs. a yeast starter

Would pitching 2 vials of white labs to a high gravity beer get the same desired effect as using one vial via a yeast starter? I'm making a double ipa, and since I have no experience with starters, I'm considering just pitching two vials. Beside $ would there be any difference?


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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:36 pm

There is a small initial investment in starters. But in the end it will save you money and you will have a boat load more yeast with a starter than you will get with two vials of pitchable yeast. Starters are easy and really don't take very long. Go with a starter.


Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:44 pm

I agree with WALDO. Making a starter is easier than you think. A growler is a perfect fermenting vessel for a yeast starter. Here's how easy it is.

1. Add 2 pints of water and 1 cup of light DME to a medium saucepan, heat to boiling, hold for 15 minutes
2. While this mini batch of beer is boiling, sanitize a growler, rubber stopper, airlock, your yeast package, scissors if using Wyeast smack pack, etc.
3. Cover and cool the wort in your sink with some cold water and ice.
4. Pour the wort into the growler, add yeast, shake it to aerate
5. Attach the rubber stopper and airlock

That's it. If you're gonna make beer, you should just get used to making starters. It's easy, takes very little time and always ensures you're pitching a good amount of yeast.


Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:46 pm

Making a 500mL to 1L starter with one vial will/would give you much more than double the yeast in a day or two. Pitching two vials is better for a 1.070+ brew than just using one, but won't give the punch you'd get from making a medium-sized starter.

Think about doing a super-easy starter. It'll save you $7 and get better results. For ex, boil 1/2 cup DME in a pint of water for 10 min (just like a super-short wort boil, except you can do it in a small kitchen pot). While the "wort" is boiling, sanitize a big pickle jar (the 1/2 gal sizes work well), a gallon jug, or whatever you have around that has lots of headspace and will either fit a funnel or has a big opening. This is just a teeny fermenter. After 10 min pour the starter wort right into the starter fermenter (the thermal mass of the glass should be enough to keep it from cracking from the 16oz boiling fluid stress) and "seal" the top with tinfoil and a rubber band. Then sit the "fermenter" in a small ice bath for 30 min or so. You'll be able to feel when it's cool. Take it out, swirl it around a bit to aerate, and then remove the tinfoil and pitch your yeast tube. Put the tinfoil back on with a rubber band (this will keep the foil in place but still allow CO2 to escape) and you're DONE!

24-72 hours later you can pitch the starter. Or you can wait for the yeast to settle and keep it in your fridge 'till you need it (up to a month, I'd suggest). Even a super quick/easy deal like this is better than two tubes, IMHO. Good luck with the brew whatever you choose to do, though.


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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 1:48 pm

Even with 2 tubes, you're still underpitching by about 50%.
Life begins at 60....1.060, that is.


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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:51 pm

I was in your shoes two weeks ago...never used a starter and thought it would be too much to learn/buy.

JUST DO IT! It's cheap, easy, and WOWIE...it makes MAD bubbles! I'll never go back to not using one. I bought my starter kit from NB. I have used it twice...and it seems that they send enough DME for many, many batches.

Believe me, if it were too challenging I wouldn't have done it. Go for it.


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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:01 pm

Another advantage to using a starter over vials is that the yeasts are not only visibly healthy, but they are active. In my opinion (no science on hand to back me up, but I think its out there), feremntation will start faster when active yeast is added.
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Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 6:43 pm

I've done starters in 64oz and 1 gallon fruit juice containers. They worked really well, but the ridges required I leave quite a bit of spend wort behind to shake up and dissolve the yeast cake. Nice about the 64oz jobbies, the standard carboy cork fits.

You can use malta goya for your starter. Two 12 oz bottles is just nice. Just make sure you shake the living heaven into them to get rid of all the CO2 and oxygenate.


Post Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:16 pm

An alternative to building a big starter for a high-gravity brew is to pitch a couple of packets of high-quality dry yeast such as Nottingham, if it works for the style you're brewing. You generally have a much higher cell count in an 11-gram dry yeast pack when comparing 1 pack to 1 vial, and the yeast are engineered to be ready to go right out of the pack. The yeast in the WL vials is in a different state of semi-suspended animation and seems to be more "groggy" when it wakes up if it wasn't first pitched into a starter.

Don't get me wrong, I use WL products a lot and have never been disappointed. If you need LOTS of yeast without lots of fuss, however, Nottingham is a great alternative, and 2 would work beautifully in your double IPA - for less than the cost of a single vial or smack pack.

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