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1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

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murphymania

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:30 am

1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

I'm brewing my second batch (Grateful Dead Guy malt extract kit from NB with the Wyeast "pitchable" pack) and I want to make a starter. I pitched directly from the activated pack last time (NB's "Phat Tyre" clone), and the action subsided in about 24 hours -- beer turned out fine, but I want to see how much of a difference I get by using a starter. After reading through the starter threads on this board, I think I'm ready to get going.

I've got a 1000 mL erlenmeyer flask, but I'm concerned it may be too small for 1.064 OG. I don't have a stir plate, but I have an aquarium pump and a 1/2 gallon growler.

Should I ditch the flask and make a bigger starter with the growler? Should I worry about using the aquarium pump (either for just 30 minutes at the start, or maybe more frequently)?

My plan of attack is to make a 1L starter in the growler, aerate for 30 minutes, and then shake it up a few times per day. I'm hoping that will give me enough head space and aeration.

Thanks for the advice.
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hamiltont

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:38 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

I would use the growler & not bother with the pump. As long as you swirl the starter up as frequently as you can and keep it around 68-70F you should be good, assuming the yeast is fairly fresh... I'd go with about 3/4 of the growler or ~48oz.
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prortman

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:40 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

did you use the calulator on mr malty to determine proper starter size? if not im guessing it will suggest a larger one. either way though id say go with the growler. try to stir it up as much as possible. the 1 liter flask is just too small to really do much except for smaller step up starters.
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murphymania

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:54 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

Thanks! 48 oz is actually what the Mr Malty pitching calculator recommends - 1.4 L with intermittent shaking. I'll skip the air pump and save it for the wort.

Follow up question - would it matter much if I just poured the entire starter into the wort? Surely 1.4 L wouldn't impact the final product much? I learn from mistakes, so I'm not afraid of making them, just wondering what the general consensus is.

Other than step up starters, wouldn't the 1L flask work for lesser OG brews? I'm going off Palmer's How to Brew... Everyone on the forum seems to prefer larger vessels for starters, but I'm not sure if that's just because you brew bigger batches or stronger beers?
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anisomorpha

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:23 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

pitching can depend. I like to brew & pitch when the starter is at it's peak - just seems like the fermentation gets going quicker. The exception is when I'm doing a larger starter, like with my lagers and I don't want to chance any off-flavors from the starter. With a 48oz starter you should be fine. But you'd also be fine chilling and decanting.
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a10t2

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:53 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

Assuming you have a filter on the pump, why not use it? It'll let you grow more yeast in your small starter vessel. I'd start keeping an eye out for a 4-5 L flask or 1 gal jug too.

murphymania wrote:Follow up question - would it matter much if I just poured the entire starter into the wort? Surely 1.4 L wouldn't impact the final product much? I learn from mistakes, so I'm not afraid of making them, just wondering what the general consensus is.

It's a judgement call on how big is too big, but I chill and decant all my starters. 1.4 L is still ~8% of the beer.

murphymania wrote:Other than step up starters, wouldn't the 1L flask work for lesser OG brews?

A 1 L isn't really big enough unless you're using continuous aeration and/or a stirplate, and even then only for lower-gravity beers, and even then you won't have much headspace, so you might have to worry about blowoff. The most yeast you can grow with a smack pack in 1 L of wort is around 200 billion cells. And pitching yeast into a starter much smaller than that can actually result in *fewer* viable cells than you had to begin with.
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prortman

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:32 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

in all my starter research i found it IS ok to pitch the whole thing but youll want to do it within about 24 hrs of starting the starter. that way the yeast is very active and healthy and has grown a few cells. you wont get the maximum growth but if you pitch that active you shouldnt have any problems. if you wait until the starter is finished and all the cell growth is complete then you might as well cold crash and settle then decant and pitch. a wise poster once told me this starter liquid is pretty bad tasting since its way over oxygenated and no hops (its essentially a really bad tasting malt liquor) and if you calculate it out 1.5 liters in a 5 gal batch ....aprox 10% of your beer is going to be this not so good tasting stuff. so its kinda personal preference. i think that figure goes down if you pitch active too since not all of the liquid is converted yet.

That being said. i have always pitched active with my starters. i usually dont have the time or forsight to know when to prepare for brewing so its usually kind of last minute. i havent noticed any problems with off flavors in my brews. if you personally are super picky about having those minute flavors id put in the extra time and effort to decant.

the 1L flask is useful for a few things. mostly step up starters. lower og batches, things like hefeweizen and things that need to be slightly underpitched would make it usefull too. i, like you bought a 1L flask thinking it would be adequite for making starters. its what i use cause i dont have anything else that works on my home made stir plate but i plan on upgrading to a 3L one soon. i dont think ill ever be doing much bigger than a 2 L starter so i wouldnt need anything bigger and you can still do 1 L starters in it too!
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hamiltont

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:42 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

I'd get a 4L or a gallon jug if you plan to do a lager some day. :cheers:
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murphymania

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Post Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:15 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

I can't thank all of you enough for your responses. This is great info.

Cheers!
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murphymania

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Post Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:30 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

As a brief coda - the advice above prompted me to pick up a 1 Gal jug, and in the past few weeks I've used the hell out of it! I expected to just use it for starters, but the 1 gal jug has quickly become one of my favorite tools. I've found it's a great way to measure small additions of water (marked off 1/2 gal and 1 gal) and it worked extremely well for washing yeast. Well worth the $5 from my LHBS.
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ynotbrusum

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Post Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:53 am

Re: 1L starter flask vs 1/2 Gal growler

FWIW, the most useful thing I found is a 2.5 gallon bucket from my LHBS which came with a lid and grommet. I use it for lager size starters when brewing a 10 gallon batch. I put books on either side of the stir plate to hold it in place and it spins the stir bar great. And when not using the stir plate, I can make a small batch of beer with light hops and use the slurry whole in a 10 gallon batch. For ales, I use a 2L Ehrlenmyer flask, because I can boil right in it.

:cheers:
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