How necessary is a starter

Newer to brewing so still getting my footing.

Thinking of taking on a imperial stout but it suggests a starter. Question: How necessary is a starter when brewing a beer with a higher OG?

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Very important. If you don’t want to make a starter I recommend using 2 packets of dry yeast.

+1 Starters are necessary for big beers.

When I’ve brewed Imperial Stouts, I never make a starter. Instead, I make 5 gallons of a weaker beer then harvest and use the entire yeast cake for the IS. That works great. It would take a very big starter to build up enough yeast to pitch the proper amount for an IS.

There are few more complications with a high OG beer compared to an average gravity beer less than 1.052. You may not be set up to handle the differences, since they are unknown being new to brewing. Pitch rate and temperature control being two very important aspects. I would suggest NBs dry Irish stout as a starter beer. Harvested yeast from this beer would give you enough yeast for three imperial stouts. It would be a good learning experience brewing a beer of moderate gravity. The dry Irish stout tastes good also, if done correctly.

I thought I would add this, the Brewers Friend pitch rate and starter calculator. Put some numbers in here for different OG brews and you will see how important a starter is. ... alculator/

I actually brewed the dry irish stout last weekend. Primary is sitting in the basement right now at about 64 degrees. I used dry yeast for this brew. Can I harvest the yeast cake from this to use for the IS even though I used Safale S-04 Ale Dry Yeast?
Thanks for the reply

When I said “newer”, I mean that I have 60 gallons under my belt since last feb.

Yes you can use that yeast cake, s04 should be fine in an IS. What yeast were you gonna use?

I would have used the Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale had I not posted this question. I guess I didn’t know if I could harvest previously dry yeast but the answer appears to be yes. Question: Should I order an additional package of Safale 04 or will the cake from the Dry Irish Stout be fine?

Btw, any suggestions of videos where I can learn to properly harvest the yeast cake?

If I were you, I’d rack the stout off the day you brew the IS and just pour the IS right on that yeast cake. If it were a smaller beer you’d maybe want to remove some of the slurry but since it’s a bigger beer like that it wouldn’t be an overpitch at all.

Danny, if I pour the IS over the cake, should I aerate or shake wort once poured over the cake?

Yes you will want to aerate. Don’t need a video on how to harvest yeast. Just rack the beer off the yeast slosh the yeast cake around and pour into a sanitized mason jar. Put that in the fridge use when needed, if it’s been in the fridge more than 2 weeks make a starter with some of the yeast.

+1 That’s how I harvest my yeast too. No washing or futzing around with it. Like GD said, within 2 weeks or so I’ll just use it straight, after that I make starters based on mr malty or brewer’s friend recommendation.

Still my favorite method, because I’m a little lazy, is to brew the same day I’m kegging and reuse the yeast cake. It’s fresh healthy yeast just napping and waiting for the next party.

If you pour the new wort through a double mesh strainer into the fermenter it will aerate it or you can shake it around once in the fermenter.

I’m going to do it on the same day just to make it seamless. Thanks everyone for the help!

Getting ready to harvest the yeast this coming weekend got me thinking: 1. how do I separate the trub from the cake? 2. is the yeast cake I will be harvesting the entire tan layer on the bottom of my carboy?

Don’t worry about the trub. It will settle to the bottom and won’t disturb anything. There is a process some people use call “yeast washing”, you can search for that if you wish, but I haven’t found any benefit from it if you are just going to use the yeast immediately anyway.