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Is a starter necessary?

About to do a 5 gallon Jamil’s Evil Twin extract batch (OG: 1064 Wyeast 1056) and was wondering if a starter was necessary. I know it would be recommended, but is it a huge deal to just use the smack pack?

It depends on if you want to make beer, or make the best beer you can make.

Agreed. It really just makes better beer.

Even on low gravity brews I like to use a small starter.

All you are adding is another 24 hrs, every liquid yeast I use I make a starter. Can’t worry about weather it’s enough. To me it’s a sure thing without question. I’ve made starters on expired yeast
and it worked, I figured, “what you got to lose”?

I make a lot of 5%-ish beers and I’ll admit that if I happen to have a very fresh and active Wyeast pack, I will oxygenate well and just pitch from the Activator. If the beer was higher gravity or the yeast health was in question, I would make the starter. I just made a nice Amarillo & Citra Pale Ale with a fresh pack of 1764 Pacman that I thought was going to explode it was swollen so hard. For a 1.064 beer, I’d make a starter.

Is it necessary to wait until the pack is fully swelled before pitching a starter? Kind of crunched for time and need to make the starter tonight, but might not be able to wait for the pack to swell as much as I normally would.

Of course it’s better to wait, since you’ll have more yeast cells to pitch into the starter and thus more cells after your starter is done.

However I had a pack not so long ago that arrived already blown up. I put it in the fridge and had to open it without “smacking”. It was so puffed up. In the end the starter worked and the beer nicely fermented. Slightly different situation, ymmv.

[quote=“pete_brewer”]Of course it’s better to wait, since you’ll have more yeast cells to pitch into the starter and thus more cells after your starter is done.

However I had a pack not so long ago that arrived already blown up. I put it in the fridge and had to open it without “smacking”. It was so puffed up. In the end the starter worked and the beer nicely fermented. Slightly different situation, ymmv.[/quote]

The activator doesn’t actually make more cells. It just kind of wakes up the cells that are there, and pulls their fingers. The whole point of the starter is to activate the yeast, and get them reproducing. so I’m not sure how the delay helps. I’ve made starters with and without smacking the pack; I think the difference is negligible.

If you’re NOT doing a starter; smacking the pack and seeing it puff up is a great way to know the pack is viable.

IMO, if you don’t have 4 days for the starter, (2 fermentation and 2 cold crash. 5 days for a safety margin) you don’t have time for a starter.

But, “better” beer is going to be subject to your taste buds. 1 pack with no starter is not going to make a crappy beer.

As I’ve said before, I have a friend that pitches 1 pack in 10 gallons. His beers taste great.

You can make the starter without the pack fully swollen.

If you are concerned about pitching rates get a pack of US-05. It is similar enough to 1056 and has more than enough yeast cells for your beer. Don’t bother rehydrating, just pour on top of your wort and let them do their thing. :smiley:

I was thinking to myself umm maybe nighthawk is having mental issues today. Then I realized the problem was me! I was thinking 4-5 days wow man thats some serious out there stuff. But then it dawned on me its been so long since I made a starter without a stirplate that anything more than 24hrs and a few hours to cold crash was blowing my mind!!!

Back to topic:
A. Yes I have made starters that were with non popped packs but only when produced within the last 30 days.
B. Over 30 days old I smack the pack and check for viability before wasting any time at all making starters or beers for that matter unless my yeast is Aok first and foremost.
C. Some do use a smack pack only, But I will always use a starter for liquid yeast as I want cell counts as close to relating SG that I can hit on the homebrew level this is especially important in regards to making lagers.
D. GET A STIRPLATE! or simply make one their real easy to make.(one word/hint: train controller)

[quote=“ITsPossible”]
D. GET A STIRPLATE! or simply make one their real easy to make.(one word/hint: train controller)[/quote]

I went this direction : http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/my-stir … ild-86252/

I had spare hard drives in an old computer and an old 12V adapter laying around so I did the whole thing for $30 after a trip to radio shack.

A couple tips:

    - Get 3" bolts instead of 2.5" bolts as this will allow you to move the magnet closer to the top of the plate.
    - Make sure you epoxy the washer on to the fan as centered as possible. Even the slightest offset will cause quite a wobble in the fan

If DIY isnt your thing, check these out. https://bellsbeer.com/store/products/St … Plate.html

They are supposedly guaranteed for life by the company that makes them and at $42 is quite a deal. I kinda wish I found this site before I made mine :slight_smile:

There is a brewer on the street behind mine and I stopped over there one day when he was brewing in his garage. He was making a porter and I was looking at his ingredients, etc. and saw three Wyeast activators laying on a table. I asked him about it and he told me that he didn’t have time to make a starter so he was going to pitch all three of the packs. Probably not the most cost-effective way to do it but if you’re paranoid about pitch rates, it’s an option.

Nope, it’s not necessary. There is virtually no cell growth when the pack swells.

Nope, it’s not necessary. There is virtually no cell growth when the pack swells.[/quote]
Pack doesn’t have to be fully swelled, but seeing how fast it swells does give you a good read on how viable the yeast in the pack is. It is rare for me to get yeast that has been manufactured within the past six months (supply train to Europe isn’t as fast as it is in the states), and I have gotten dead packs as well. I’ll give myself about 1 day per month since the date stamped on the pack, as it can take 4-5 days to see any swelling at all. Only after I see that will I pour into the starter.

Nope, it’s not necessary. There is virtually no cell growth when the pack swells.[/quote]
Pack doesn’t have to be fully swelled, but seeing how fast it swells does give you a good read on how viable the yeast in the pack is. It is rare for me to get yeast that has been manufactured within the past six months (supply train to Europe isn’t as fast as it is in the states), and I have gotten dead packs as well. I’ll give myself about 1 day per month since the date stamped on the pack, as it can take 4-5 days to see any swelling at all. Only after I see that will I pour into the starter.[/quote]

Yeah, in your case it’s a good idea! I only live a couple hours from Wyeast and often get packs dated a day or 2 before, so it’s not a concern for me. I guess the rule should be “check the date!”.

[quote=“Denny”]

Yeah, in your case it’s a good idea! I only live a couple hours from Wyeast and often get packs dated a day or 2 before, so it’s not a concern for me. I guess the rule should be “check the date!”.[/quote]

Stop bragging! :lol:

I have been at the LHBS, smacked a pack while standing at their counter and then drove the 20-30 minutes home and had the pack swollen rock hard during the drive and just brewed with it. Again, probably a 5% beer where I oxygenated, etc. and got good fermentation, attenuation, etc. I know there might be people out there that say that you absolutely should not do this but I know I have done it with ale yeast and the beer came out very nicely. I have a batch of an Amarillo-Citra pale ale I fermented with 1764 Pacman where I did the same thing. It’s still in primary but the yeast was fresh and the SG was 1.054 or so. I would not do this with a lager (I would make a starter and get it on the stirplate) but a 5% ale with a very fresh Wyeast pack, no problem.

[quote=“Nighthawk”][quote=“Denny”]

Yeah, in your case it’s a good idea! I only live a couple hours from Wyeast and often get packs dated a day or 2 before, so it’s not a concern for me. I guess the rule should be “check the date!”.[/quote]

Stop bragging! :lol: [/quote]

It ain’t bragging if it’s true. :wink:

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