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First "big"beer

Hello,

I am waiting for the arrival of my 4th kit, Imperial Stout. My past kits include Amber Ale, Inn Keeper Pale Ale and the Whitehouse Honey Ale, all of which I have been pleased with the results. Some of the past kits have suggested to make a yeast starter. When I used the dry yeast (2 of the 3 batches), I boiled the required amount of water and then pitched the yeast when it was down to 80° or so. I am not sure if that actually counts as a yeast starter or not. I was reading the reviews on NB for imperial stout and forums on yeast starters and now I am slightly confused and I am seeking guidance.

With the kit I purchased 1lb of dark roasted DME and Wyeast 1728 Scottish Yeast.
Questions:

  1. how much water should I boil for the starter?
  2. how much of the DME should I use?
  3. According to the forums, there was mention of cold crashing the starter, decanting it, I am not sure what these terms mean, could you please give more details.
  4. how long should I let the starter “brew” for before I start the actual beer?
    5)I also read that with the higher ABV beers, that 1 package of yeast may not be enough for the longer fermentation, is this something that I need to be concerned with with the yeast that I ordered?
  5. Once the starter is complete, do I just dump the mixture into the actual wort?
    7)Somewhere on the forum, it was mentioned that a starter is not needed with dry yeast and just to sprinkle it on the wort, what are your opinions? Is the Wyeast 1728 a dry yeast?

FYI, I am planning on making the starter in a growler.

I am looking forward to your replies.

[quote=“gnome”]Hello,

I am waiting for the arrival of my 4th kit, Imperial Stout. My past kits include Amber Ale, Inn Keeper Pale Ale and the Whitehouse Honey Ale, all of which I have been pleased with the results. Some of the past kits have suggested to make a yeast starter. When I used the dry yeast (2 of the 3 batches), I boiled the required amount of water and then pitched the yeast when it was down to 80° or so. I am not sure if that actually counts as a yeast starter or not. I was reading the reviews on NB for imperial stout and forums on yeast starters and now I am slightly confused and I am seeking guidance.

With the kit I purchased 1lb of dark roasted DME and Wyeast 1728 Scottish Yeast.
Questions:

  1. how much water should I boil for the starter?
http://yeastcalc.com/
  1. how much of the DME should I use?
http://yeastcalc.com/
  1. According to the forums, there was mention of cold crashing the starter, decanting it, I am not sure what these terms mean, could you please give more details.

Cold crashing is cooling the completed starter in the refrigerator to settle the yeast. Decanting is pouring off the clear wort above the yeast layer. Some wort is retained to swirl the yeast into for easier pouring.

  1. how long should I let the starter “brew” for before I start the actual beer?
http://yeastcalc.com/ See 'The Care and Feeding of Your Yeast'

5)I also read that with the higher ABV beers, that 1 package of yeast may not be enough for the longer fermentation, is this something that I need to be concerned with with the yeast that I ordered?

http://yeastcalc.com/ See 'Are You Pitching Enough Yeast'
  1. Once the starter is complete, do I just dump the mixture into the actual wort?

The yeast can be pitched after the wort is cooled to fermenting temperature.

7)Somewhere on the forum, it was mentioned that a starter is not needed with dry yeast and just to sprinkle it on the wort, what are your opinions? Is the Wyeast 1728 a dry yeast?

A starter is never used for dry yeast. A starter will reduce the viability and health of dry yeast. Dry yeast may be pitched directly or rehydrated.

All Wyeasts are liquid yeasts.

FYI, I am planning on making the starter in a growler.

Starters can be made in any container. I prefer a one gallon pickle jar because of the wider mouth.

Also;

http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_makingastarter.cfm http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast-tools.php http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitc ... alculator/ http://www.fermentis.com/brewing/homebr ... uct-range/

I am looking forward to your replies.[/quote]

Depending on the size of the starter you can pitch it without decanting. I don’t think you will notice any off flavors in an Imperial Stout. If you do plan to decant it make sure you start the yeast starter a good 3-4 days before you plan to brew.

thank you for your replies. I have read various articles on the links you have provided and I have a clearer path to starting a starter; however I have more questions:

I found this example on wyeast that is really close to the levels of the imperial stout: Brewer X has 5 gallons of wort with an OG of 1.085. He has determined that he wants to inoculate his wort with 18 million cells per ml. He only has 1 Activator of Wyeast’s Trappist High Gravity # 3787. He decides to perform the following two step propagation:

1 Activator into 0.5 gallons wort (1.040 @ 70F)

Allow to ferment 24-36 hours

Add 0.5 gallons of wort (1.040 @ 70F)

Allow to ferment 24-36 hours

Add 5 gallons of wort 1.085

  1. If I were to follow this example, will that produce a good starter for the Imperial Stout?

  2. to the 0.5 gallons of wort, I will add 1 cup of the DME, is this a good ratio?

  3. Should I plan to cold crash and decant the wort after the first ferment stage?

  4. Should I cold crash and decant after the 2nd ferment stage?

  5. should I not cold crash and decant and would then be adding a gallon of starter to my wort? If this is the case should I only plan on boiling 4.5 gallons of wort (4.5 gallons of wort + 1 gallon of starter = 5.5 gallons of finished product in the carboy)?

time frame plan

smack the yeast pack Friday 9/27 @ 5pm
start starter Saturday 9/28 @ 7am,
add 1/2 gallon on Sunday 9/29 @ 7am
brew on Monday 9/30
does these seem reasonable?

Thank you again. I appreciate the advice!

My take from the YeastCalc site.

A .75g starter is sufficient for a 5 gallon batch of 1.085 beer.

Give the starter 3 days to ferment. Shaking/swirling occasionally. Cold crash for 3 days. Decant and pitch into the wort.

nighthawk, can you please explain what variables you entered in to Yeast Calc to come up with a .75g starter?

[quote=“Nighthawk”]My take from the YeastCalc site.

A .75g starter is sufficient for a 5 gallon batch of 1.085 beer.

Give the starter 3 days to ferment. Shaking/swirling occasionally. Cold crash for 3 days. Decant and pitch into the wort.[/quote]

here is what I entered:
ale
batch volume = 5.25 gallons
OG = 1.086
requires 15.4 million/ml and 308 billion total

DME calculator
gravity of starter = 1.037
2 liters
requires 201.81 grams DME

liquid yeast
production date on my yeast pack is 8/28/13, yields a rating of 76%

1st step with 2 liters = 179 billion
2nd step with 2 liters = 286 billion
3rd step with 2 liters = 368 billion

am I reading the calculator incorrectly?

Ale, 5 gallons, 1.085, yeast cells needed 290

1step, intermittent shaking, .75 gallon, total cells at finish 299

I come up with 9 billion more cells then “recommended”.

If you are doing 5.25 gallons, you need 304 billion cells. So I’m 5 billion short. Or about 98% there. Close enough for me. :wink:

Nighthawk, thanks again. Just a few more questions and I think I will be set.
I have a 2 gallon food grade plastic bucket, would that be acceptable to make the starter in?

And can you verify how much DME I should add to the 3/4 gallon of water?
Thank you so much.

If you have a 2 gallon bucket, I would make a 1.5 gallon Mild or Bitter style beer. Something lightly hopped and lower in gravity. 1.035-40.

Might as well make a 6pk plus of something drinkable. :wink:

According to Yeastcalc, 22oz of DME in 1.5g of water will yield 1.040

Depending on the hops you have, bitter to 15-20 with a 60min addition. A little addition at flame out. You can look at the recipes NB has listed for ideas.

If you are going to drink it, then don’t intermittently shake it.

While I appreciate the insight to be able to make a small batch of drinkable beer, I didn’t realize that was an option. However, I think that may be for a different batch.
Do you concur that if with what I entered in yeast calc?
Ale, 5.25 gallons, O.G of 1.086, I need 308 billion cells. With 1 gallon of starter, I will need to add 13.5 oz. Of DME and with some shaking and stirring it will produce 298 billion cells?
I am assuming this would be after the 3 day ferment period and 3 day cold crash, is this correct?
And I am assuming making the starter in a plastic bucket is acceptable although not ideal?

I am seeing a final cell count of 341B. Even with your number of 298 it looks good.

One process people use it to time their beers. Making different styles and gravity levels with the same yeast. Going from a light color/flavor beer to a darker/more flavorful one. And going from a low gravity to a high gravity. Getting 2-3 beers out of one smack pack/vial.

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