Back to Shopping at

First attempt at Lagers. How big of a starter?

I am going to make an Octoberfest and a Mai Bock in 2 weeks back to back on a sat/sun so I can lager them together/ in my chest freezer with temp controller.

These are my first lagers. Can i use my same procedure for making a starter or do I need to do something more complicated like stepping up?

I normally just make a 1300ML starter with 1cup of DME and a smack pack. I let this go on a stir plate for about 20 hours then I decant for 2 hours in fridge and pitch.

Will this be good or do I need a different procedure?

Without checking Mr Malty, I don’t think that is a big enough starter. To be safe, I would step them up again. Decant, add more fresh wort, 2 liters of new would be ideal and then pitch that.

Lagers take a LOT more healthy yeast

The size of your starter will depend on the original gravity. The size of a starter for a lager is much larger than for an ale because the yeast is slower. Mr. Malty has a great tool to help you determine starter size.

choose lager from the upper left pulldown, type in your starting gravity, choose “stir plate” at the simple starter pulldown and see what you’ll need. For a lager with an OG of 1.058, you’re going to need about a gallon (4 liter) starter with 1 smackpack and 400g of DME.

You will also benefit from keeping the starter in the fridge for a day. If you cold crash for 2 hours, you still have the strongest, most viable yeast, still in suspension. Crash for a day, then decant (pour off the liquid), and then pitch.

Thanks for the tips everyone!

Make sure you allow yourself enough time for the starter to fully ferment, plus two full days to crash it. A gallon starter probably won’t ferment out in <24 hours, and most lager yeasts will still be active to some extent at refrigerator temperatures. I always plan for 4 days/stage for ales, and 5 days/stage for lagers.

a10t2 your using simple starters though and not a stir plate right? normally I pitch my starters in to my ale after 20 hours of stir plate and 2 hours of decanting in the fridge.

4 to 5 days???

No, I’m using a stirplate. Depending on the age of the yeast and the pitching rate in the starter, I’ve had them take up to 72 hours to ferment out fully.

If it finishes in less time than normal, a few extra days in the fridge won’t do it any harm. If I only plan for two days, though, and it takes longer, then I have to make a difficult decision - do I reschedule the brew day, or pitch yeast that isn’t ready?

4/5 days ensures that you have completely fermented the starter. Because lager starters are bigger, you give them an extra day to fully ferment. 2 days in the fridge is good too. If you plan your starters a week before brew day, you can be sure that all is well with the yeast at pitching time.

Also, to define a few terms in relation to starters:
Cold crashing is to quickly lower the temp to near freezing.
Decanting is pouring off the liquid to leave the solid yeast behind.


Back to Shopping at