I plan to brew up an All-Grain (BIAB) Baltic Porter tomorrow and am using a White Labs California Ale yeast and was going to make a starter since my OG is going to be 1.074. My question is; should I simply pitch the starter or let it go for 24 hours and cold crash it decant the wort and pitch on Sunday? I’ve done a few starters and always simply waited for 24 hours and pitched keeping the starter and wort at the same temp with never an issue. Just wondering what the consensus here is?
I generally begin my starters 4 days before brewday. Let it go for 48 hours, then fridge to cold crash. Take it out of the fridge to warm up when I start my boil, then decant and pitch when ready. This is for a 1-step ‘normal’ 1-2l starter for say a 1.050-1.060. If it’s for a >1.060 or a lager, I’ll do a 2-step starter which adds an extra day or two. If I just want to be sure the yeast is active for a <1.050, then I might do a 1 day starter.
Check Mr. Malty or another pitch rate calculator. For that high of a OG, you’ll probably need a big starter(or a 2-step).
Thanks. I guess I should have asked this in a different way. Does decanting really matter and why? When I started brewing I was using smack packs and vials and never used dry yeast. Over the last year I have realized that good dry yeast is as good as any liquid and all I do is rehydrate. Also for a lager or big beer why NOT make a starter with dry yeast? I just seems simpler and cheaper and you have way more cells.
To decant or not- I’ve never tasted the liquid from my starters, but apparently it can taste not-so-good, so that’s the main reason it’s decanted. Also, with the large volume starters, to not add such a large volume to your brew.
I use dry vs. liquid about 50:50. I do however harvest and reuse my yeast. Some people will do a dozen or so batches out of an initial pitch. Me, I go 3 batches. Mostly because after 3 batches I’m ready to move on to another style.
Making a starter with dry yeast- I’ll leave that one to someone else.
Don’t think there is much consensus with yeast starters. We all have our own ideas First off, I am in the no starter for beers under 1.060 except lagers. For that porter I would build one though. I think a starter needs a few days and more than 24 hours. The choice of decanting depends on if it was cold crashed. My preference for liquid yeast is starter made via yeast calc, Kai stir plate setting, 3-4 days, overnight cold crash, decant. Dry yeast is the ultimate KISS; no starter and no hydrate but use 2 packets for lagers/big beers. You can make a starter for dry yeast with one packet, but most would prefer to just use 2 packets and not the fuss.
I realize you have probably already brewed this, but I really think what makes a baltic porter is lager yeast.
Normally I just hydrate the dry yeast for about 2 hours and get it within a few degrees of the wort and pitch. I think farting around with liquid yeast is unnecessary for most beers. This last batch of Baltic porter was perfect. I did BIAB and had right at about 77% efficiency but when I pitched the starter I expected a vigorous fermentation but it was really weak. Pitched on Saturday about noon and this morning almost no activity. I bet if I had used a Safale-04 like in most of my ales it would have blown that airlock. I don’t know, just seems disappointing that a 1.074 OG with a starter would almost completely stop fermenting after only 3 days?
Also zwiller tell me more about using a lager yeast for the Baltic porter, sounds really interesting?
I tend to think the effects of starters are overstated. That said, 1.074 is big. A starter (more yeast) is prudent. Some brewers have skipped starters entirely and gone to pitching 2 packets as SOP. Old schoolers like me made smaller beers and pitched yeast onto bigger beers.
Dry yeast is well documented to takeoff faster but it doesn’t necessarily mean better beer. Also, if you are blowing airlocks you might be pitching too warm. In my experience, with cooler temps, fermentation is less likely to be “violent”. Always measure wort temp prior to pitching. Always pitch cool.
Lager yeast for baltic porter originates from the fact that the majority of brewers in the “baltic area” would be lager brewers, therefor they would use lager yeast. I thought that is a given for the style. A lager yeast will be smoother/creamier and that helps differentiate this beer from other porters. An ale yeast can be used but at much cooler temps. In addition, you’d be using continental hops and not english or domestic. This adds to the smoother/creamier thing. I might be tempted to add a tiny bit of smoked malt and “sea” salt (non-iodized) for even more authenticity.
zwiller, Thanks that was interesting I had never heard that about the Baltic porter. So you ferment at 50º for 3-4 weeks then bottle/keg as usual. Use a lager yeast but don’t actually “lager” the beer.
These days I use a modern lager fermentation schedule. Pitch cool, ferment a week-ish 50-ish, raise to room temps after high krausen for d rest a few days, then crash cool to 30F and “lager” a week. I would probably use the same schedule for the baltic. From here, I’d probably bottle so I stay out of it. Age for long as you can stand it. Months to a year. The premise to the baltic is a long sea voyage in cold weather makes it extraordinarily smooth. To me that means extended lagering. Can’t say I am an expert in the baltic (but I am in in robust porter :cheers:
Thanks man!!! I learn so much on this forum. I will definitely try that next time. I’m looking to brew some different beers this fall/winter.
Just had my first taste of the Baltic Sea Porter on Sunday and it is the best porter I’ve made. The opinion was confirmed by my “beer snob” son as well. Thanks to you guys for all the great advice…this beer is a do-over in a 10 gallon batch, which will be a whole other thread
Zwiller…thanks for the info on Baltic Porters. Brewed up a 1.074 OG Baltic on Sunday, pitched 2 packs of S-23, and currently going at 54 F. Bubbling like crazy. Will age for a while, or as long as my mom lets me age it for as it is for her. And follow the fermentation schedule you outlined above.
Update: That Baltic Sea Porter turned out great…it’s a huge hit and a definite do-over.
Thanks for the updates! Are using the fermentation schedule I posted or?
Hey Zwiller. No I did not, but I could imagine that this would be even better if I did. This is a definite do-over and I will use your advice next time. Thanks for the help!!!
Not a big fan of mine. My mother and father swear that it is good. My wife thinks it is ok, but I’m just not a fan.
Followed Zwillers fermentation schedule. Entering it into a comp in February, so we shall see how it goes.