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1.043 OG, starter needed?

I’ve never brewed a beer with such a low OG but I’ve also never used a starter before. I’ll be picking up the necessary equipment to make a starter with a gift card I received from work so I was kind of anxious to try it out but wasn’t sure if there was any downside to making a starter when you are brewing such a low OG beer. This will also be my 2nd all grain beer.

For those of you that don’t know the recipe, here it is from the AHA Beer Recipe Blog: ... he-toddler

Pliny the Toddler - Session IPA
Recipe taken from Zymurgy Magazine November/December 2011 Edition
All Grain

Ingredients for 5.5 U.S. Gallons
3.5 lb. Maris Otter
3.5 lb. Domestic 2-row
1.0 lb. Cara-Pils Malt
0.5 lb. Table Sugar
0.75 oz. Warrior 15.5% a.a. (60 mins)
0.75 oz. Columbus 11.4% a.a. (10 mins)
0.75 oz. Centennial 8.5% a.a. (10 mins)
0.75 oz. Cascade 8.5% a.a. (0 mins)
5 g Gypsum for water profile adjustment

1 starter/slurry
White Labs WLP 001 California Ale Yeast

Original gravity 1.048
ABV 4.7%
Boiling time 90 min
IBU 56
SRM 37

Single Infusion Mash at 152°F (67°C) for 60 minutes. 90 minute boil. Ferment at 65°F.

One very fresh smack pack or vial is standard pitching rate for 5 gal of 1.027 ale. I’d make a starter for anything over about 1.035.

That’s just crazy. They advertise those yeast packs/vials as pitchable but how often is a beer at about 1.029 (based on Mr. Malty) really brewed? I never really looked into this much until I switched to all-grain and started reading/learning more.

Even if you ferment down to 1.005, that’s roughly 3.15% ABV. Who knows, maybe I just need to shutup and go buy an Erlenmeyer flask and get to making starters.

If it’s fresh it will work fine. Pitch rates as low at 5 million/ml are used commercially, but the yeast has to be healthy.

Good stuff. When read separately, it certainly seemed like a lot of conflicting information, but I guess everyone has their own opinion.

The crappy caned kits like Cooper’s, Munton’s, and Mr. Beer come with yeast to pitch at about the same rate–1 gram per gallon.

You are correct Sir. It is crazy that they advertise yeast packs/vials as pitchable…

I made a 1.030 ordinary bitter a few weeks ago. I pitched 2.5 grams of dry yeast into 2.2 gallons, close to 6 million cells per milliliter. It fermented just fine. I need to bottle it. I’m just seeing if I can make something under 2% ABV taste like beer.

I think it’s a conspiracy. Just like the fact that hot dogs come in packs of 10 and buns come in packs of 8.

When was the last time that you bought hot dogs? Most come in packs of 8 now. :wink:

I usually brew three gallon batches; if the O.G. is 1.040 or less and the yeast is a couple of weeks old or less I don’t use a starter. For anything else I go with a starter.

You are also looking at the ABW numbers with calculations like that. The ABW is common in European countries. But ABV is what your palette will recognize and assimilate with most beers when weighing alcohol percentage during consumption.
IE: 1.043 - 1.005 (this would be rare a low of 1.008/9 is more common) = 5.00% ABV
1.043 SG - 1.008/1.012 SG = 4.60-4.10% ABV which is perfect in a lot of cases.
1.050 SG - 1.008/1.012 SG = 5.50-5.00% ABV
You would need an SG of 1.035 - 1.008/1.012 = 3.50-3.00% ABV

So as you can see you dont have to have 1.080 SG to have medium to higher strength beers.
4.0-5.5% ABV is almost perfect for 50% of the beers out there and my personal fav amongst others is an Innkeeper kit with a originating SG of 1.040-1.045 and I make mine right at 1.040. A perfect “session” pint is a must amongst the other 50% which will tend to rise above 1.050 SG such as IPA etc…

As stated before it is a sidetrack to continue believing that one pack is sufficient unless under 1.030 The yeast manufactures state that high purity enables them to make the claim. But the numbers are foremost to the learning curve here. If I were to use one pouch it will take 12-24 hours for the “pure” yeast to still climb to the cell count they should be at then they will start actually fermenting the beer. With a starter you ramped them up first and they are only fermenting beer not making babies now and I can attest to this fact because I pitch correct stir plate starters and my beers are always fermenting within 2 hours of pitch. The text within Jamils/Mr malties site and others is invaluable in making the choice for yourself. The proof really is in the pudding.

Here’s a good read relating directly to my comments. ... -practices

If your not in the mood to read here is the chart within the links article that shows what is going on.

Although it’s clear that a starter can have a major impact on the health of the fermentation and speed at which fermentation begins, the issue of whether you “need” a starter is questionable. I never make starters and seem to have quite healthy and speedy fermentations. I recently brewed a 1.080 stout and used a smack pack, and fermentation started off extremely quickly and vigorously. I have no concern about its health. I will add that one factor that has had a major impact on my fermentation has been my method of aerating the wort prior to fermentation. The better I aerate, the better my fermentation. I recently started using one of those whipping mechanisms you attach to a drill so it stirs it up really well, and this has been a huge help. Just my two cents.

Good luck!


I don’t doubt you, but is a fast fermentation really what’s important? How does it taste? What makes you think it wouldn’t taste better had you used a starter?

Somebody on here just did a blind taste test of a 1.050 beer brewed with a smack pack versus starter, and people couldn’t reliably tell the difference. So I think you could brew the beer without a starter if the pack were fresh. On the other hand, making a starter doesn’t need to be a big thing, you can do it a day in advance and pitch at high krausen.

To add to what Sean said, my personal experience is that every beer I’ve used a starter for has turned out better than any beer where I didn’t use a starter.

Pitch rates have different effects with different strains. I would not expect huge differences with wy1056. Some strains just reproduce better than others. Some produce desirable esters with lower pitch rates. Pitching any yeast at 6 million/ml into 20P wort is just a bad idea.

My reference to a “fast fermentation” basically suggests that there is no lag in fermentation, which often puts a strain on the yeast, which can negatively impact the outcome. Plus, once the yeast begins doing its work, it multiplies very quickly, and therefore I’m working off the understanding that when you have a quick, active fermentation, your yeast count will be at an adequate level quickly enough. But, with regards to the taste, [nearly] all of my beer has always [mostly] tasted good (at least to me and to those who drink it), but I don’t have the comparison to really assess. I suppose this is all the more reason to brew more and do some experiments! But, at least from my experience, the larger smack packs they make now, given that they are fresh, are quite adequate for low to medium gravity beers. I probably should have made a starter for the 1.080 but so far it tastes very good. I will probably start doing this in the future on anything over 1.060. Still, I’d be surprised if you really can tell a major difference if you don’t do a starter but start with healthy yeast, have good aeration, and a good fermentation temperature. This is a good conversation.


The conventional wisdom is that much of the favor development during fermentation (desirable or not), occurs as a result of yeast reproduction during the lag phase, with the active fermentation and post-fermentation conditioning phases acting to reduce those metabolytes.

Obviously, only you can answer that question for yourself, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you could. ... e-results/
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