Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Cascade West Coast Imperial IPA Without A Yeast Starter?

Just ordered this with recommended WYeast and realized that it calls for a yeast starter. As a relative newbie I have never encountered a recipe that calls for one. Simple Q: can it be brewed without one/pros and cons or am I out of my mind to even consider not including a yeast starter?

Thanks to all who chime in.

brw

It would be better with a starter. Should still come out ok with out one.

Without a starter, there is a chance that there may not be enough yeast cells to get the beer entirely fermented out, and your final gravity would be higher as a result. There is also a chance that there would be no effect. It depends on a lot of factors, some of which (like how healthy the yeast in that package is) you have no way of knowing about. Making a yeast starter is a way to reduce the chances of problems.

Personally,I wouldn’t even consider fermenting any high gravity beer without a yeast starter,and I especially wouldn’t go without one on the style you’re brewing.To opt out of that step is just asking for an underattenuated beer.In fact,I’m at the point in my brewing where I rarely ferment any beer without a starter,no matter what the OG is.The only styles where this might not be necessary are those that use a high ( like 15 or 20 percent) proportion of simple sugar in the recipe,like strong Belgian ales.With those,there’s actually a pretty good chance that you’ll get a literally explosive fermentation if you use a large starter.Other than that scenario,you have absolutely nothing to lose by using a yeast starter,and you definitely give your beer a much better start on life,especially with highly hopped beers where an excess of unfermented malt sugar would get in the way of a clean hop flavor.Look at it this way:since there is (by definition) a large amount of sugar (maltose and whatever other type you use) in the wort in an imperial IPA,the hops have to work that much harder to make their presence known,and deliver their desired effect.If you don’t do your best to make sure your wort gets as much healthy yeast as possible,you’re literally minimizing the likelihood that the fermentation will complete,and pretty much sabotaging your own efforts.Can a stuck fermentation be restarted if your yeast has cashed out?Possibly,but it’s a dicey process,and if you fail,you’ve pretty much just wasted a lot of time and money.I highly recommend that you avoid that frustration and disappointment and use a yeast starter.Trust me,there’s no downside to it whatsoever.

Also, you don’t need a fancy flask and stir-plate to make a starter, although I’m sure they help. I just made a 1L starter for my last brew in an empty plastic mineral water bottle. Just boil some water and DME in a saucepan to make your starter wort, cool in ice bath, and transfer to sanitized bottle. Pour in your smack-pack and you’re good to go. I covered it with a piece of sanitized foil and gave it a little swirl whenever I remembered. Worked great. I had airlock activity within 6 hours of pitching.

yes you NEED a starter, especially with an imperial something…othertwise you’re gonna brew something shitty.
For future reference as a new brewer stay away from high gravity beers for a while untiul you learn more

[quote=“grainbelt”]yes you NEED a starter, especially with an imperial something…othertwise you’re gonna brew something ####.
For future reference as a new brewer stay away from high gravity beers for a while untiul you learn more[/quote]

…or let this thread be where you learn more. :wink:

Seriously, a starter will make a significant difference in a beer that big, and the added time and expense is small compared to what you’ve already invested in the beer. Be mindful on brewday that you’ll want more oxygen in that high-gravity wort, too, so aerate it really well by whatever method you’ve got.

The starter will help your attenuation and the flavor profile. Think of it as sending your yeast to preschool.

First… if you can’t make or aren’t ready for a starter, just go by another pack of yeast or a pack of dry yeast. Problem solved.

Second… don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t brew. This is YOUR hobby and YOUR beer. Brew what you want, when you want, how you want. This forum is a great place to chat, learn, get advice, give advice, etc. But someone telling you not brew something until you’re ready is ridiculous.

Having said all this, learning to make starters IS a good idea, but don’t let that deter you from brewing this beer. Go buy a packet of dry yeast or another pack of wyeast and you’ll be fine. You’ll still make beer and you’ll still enjoy it.

Dobe 12:

That is exactly what I did–bought another identical yeast pack. I appreciate all the advice from everyone. Although I am a newbie, this is my 4th IPA (albeit the 1st one that called for a yeast starter). And with the exception of a slightly undercarbonated Kolsch, I’m 7 for 8 with my brewing success as a freshman at BEER U. The only reason I asked the initial question is that the kit directions stated that a yeast starter was “recommended,” so I thought I’d throw it out there for discussion.

I learned a long time ago not to be afraid to ask simple questions, even if it exposes my naivete. After doing this for less than a year, I’ve come to believe that this group, and home brewers in general, are a kind and forgiving lot and by and large are folks you’d want to…well…sit down and have a beer with!!
Thanks to all for the schoolin…

[quote=“dobe12”]First… if you can’t make or aren’t ready for a starter, just go by another pack of yeast or a pack of dry yeast. Problem solved.

Second… don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t brew. This is YOUR hobby and YOUR beer. Brew what you want, when you want, how you want. This forum is a great place to chat, learn, get advice, give advice, etc. But someone telling you not brew something until you’re ready is ridiculous.

Having said all this, learning to make starters IS a good idea, but don’t let that deter you from brewing this beer. Go buy a packet of dry yeast or another pack of wyeast and you’ll be fine. You’ll still make beer and you’ll still enjoy it.[/quote]

huh that post was on ignore…blah blah…it’s good advice, adding another packet of yeast may not even be enough dependent on gravity you may need 3 or 4 vials 25 bucks in yeast :shock: …
If every new brewer went and brewed imperial beers you would have a lot of shitty beer plain and simple and a lot of new brewers scratching their heads on what they did wrong

[quote=“grainbelt”][quote=“dobe12”]First… if you can’t make or aren’t ready for a starter, just go by another pack of yeast or a pack of dry yeast. Problem solved.

Second… don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t brew. This is YOUR hobby and YOUR beer. Brew what you want, when you want, how you want. This forum is a great place to chat, learn, get advice, give advice, etc. But someone telling you not brew something until you’re ready is ridiculous.

Having said all this, learning to make starters IS a good idea, but don’t let that deter you from brewing this beer. Go buy a packet of dry yeast or another pack of wyeast and you’ll be fine. You’ll still make beer and you’ll still enjoy it.[/quote]

huh that post was on ignore…blah blah…it’s good advice, adding another packet of yeast may not even be enough dependent on gravity you may need 3 or 4 vials 25 bucks in yeast :shock: …
If every new brewer went and brewed imperial beers you would have a lot of #### beer plain and simple and a lot of new brewers scratching their heads on what they did wrong[/quote]

Well then it’s a good thing we have such seasoned pros as yourself on this forum to steer them in the right direction. :blah:

[quote=“dobe12”][quote=“grainbelt”][quote=“dobe12”]First… if you can’t make or aren’t ready for a starter, just go by another pack of yeast or a pack of dry yeast. Problem solved.

Second… don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t brew. This is YOUR hobby and YOUR beer. Brew what you want, when you want, how you want. This forum is a great place to chat, learn, get advice, give advice, etc. But someone telling you not brew something until you’re ready is ridiculous.

Having said all this, learning to make starters IS a good idea, but don’t let that deter you from brewing this beer. Go buy a packet of dry yeast or another pack of wyeast and you’ll be fine. You’ll still make beer and you’ll still enjoy it.[/quote]

huh that post was on ignore…blah blah…it’s good advice, adding another packet of yeast may not even be enough dependent on gravity you may need 3 or 4 vials 25 bucks in yeast :shock: …
If every new brewer went and brewed imperial beers you would have a lot of #### beer plain and simple and a lot of new brewers scratching their heads on what they did wrong[/quote]

Well then it’s a good thing we have such seasoned pros as yourself on this forum to steer them in the right direction. :blah: [/quote]

Sure thing

If I were you, I’d pitch 2 or 3 packs of yeast

What is the downside, if any, of adding too much yeast, as in a 3rd packet, as opposed to the 2 I intend to pitch initially???

use this and pitch what it says, make sure everything is filled out acuratly

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

There would be absolutely no downside to that,believe me.In fact,3 packs might still be just barely enough for 5 gallons of imperial-strength wort.But that depends on the complexity of the sugar in the wort,too.If there is an abundance of simple sugar (like plain white sugar) in the wort,then the yeast will probably get to work pretty quickly,and 3 packs might be plenty.But if your wort is all-malt and you mashed at a high temp,you almost certainly need to do a yeast starter,or pitch a ton of yeast,of either kind.The key issue here is that the yeast’s ability to do it’s job is not just determined by how much sugar it needs to process,but how complex that sugar is.Think of it this way:if the wort is a book,and the yeast is it’s reader,then a high-gravity wort full of complex malt sugar is like “War and Peace”,and a low gravity wort of simple sugar is more like a lengthy magazine article,if you can appreciate the literary metaphor.There are a ton of variables to consider here,really,but the point is very simple:there is pretty much no such thing as overpitching yeast if you’re not using a starter,and a starter will unquestionably give your wort a better chance of becoming the finished beer you want it to be.

I’ve read there can be off-flavors due to stress for the yeast, similar to underpitching, but I’ve never experienced that or heard of a homebrewer getting there. The margin for error on the high side seems to be very wide. Perhaps if you pitched a low gravity wort onto the entire yeast cake from a previous batch that would get you into the danger zone, but even that may not be enough. Pitching three packs when two would be the “ideal” wouldn’t be a problem at all.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com