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Starters: General Consensus

Hey guys-

I’ve been brewing about a year now. I’ve tried to research as much as possible (forums/magazines/books), especially with where I’m at right now- 5 gal. FVB, extract (bottling).

I try to find out the “why” behind the process as much as the “how”, but at the end of the day it’s all about making the best beer possible. If the consensus is “say a magic word, then spin around three times”, I’ll try it-lol.

As far as starters are concerned, I’ll try and keep it as simple as possible. Please weigh in on any and all of the following; looking for confirmation from consensus experience:

1L starters- always make a starter when using liquid yeast, especially if the viability is/might be an issue.

2L starters- for higher gravity beers.

Step-Up/ 2-Step starters- highest growth potential; for the highest gravity beers.

Decanting Starters- always decant because the starter wort is oxidated and will affect the finished beer.

Finally: average time for starters to finish on a stir plate (regardless of strain). 1L? 2L?

The “rules” you give are ok if you are making ale strain starters with a stirplate. If not using a stirplate, double the volumes for the situations you cite. If making lagers, also double the volumes. These to situations can compound. So making a starter for a standard strength lager without a stirplate should be 4 liters in size.

In terms of time for a starter, that depends on the health of the yeast you are pouring into the starter, and how big it is. If it is very active/healthy, 1-2 days should be enough for 2 liters. If not so ideal, it could take twice as long, and you can add a couple more days for big volumes. Of course, if you use a stirplate, the time is cut in half for a given volume as well as the volume needed is reduced.

Here is what I use:

http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitc ... alculator/

Makes it pretty simple to figure out what to do.

yeah, use a pitch rate calculator. There are plenty out there. Some like to purposefully underpitch to coax more esters/phenols out of certain yeasts, but I find there are ways to do this with an ‘appropriate’ pitch rate defined by what these calculators tell me.

Brewers make wort, yeast make beer. Brewers need to take care of yeast.

Is it me, or is there a big difference between suggested pitching rates for brewersfriend and mrmalty?

What it all comes down to is just your pitch rate (i.e. number of healthy yeast cells per plato). 1L, 2L, multi-step, all these are just different methods for achieving a desired pitch rate. The purpose of a step-up starter is when your container (beaker, flask, apple juice jar, etc.) can not hold enough volume required to reach the desired pitch rate you are basically doing a second step to compensate for the lack of volume.

So basically use a calculator to make sure you are pitching enough healthy yeast. If not, increase your volume. If that volume exceeds the capacity of your yeast growing system, do a second step. Otherwise its just a guessing game.

The calculator linked by Templar supports the calculation of up to 3 steps. If you are ever doing 3 steps you need to get a bigger flask or need to get a stir-plate.

As far as length of time on a stir plate, i usually let mine go about 36-48 hours.

With a 1.050 OG beer, Brewers friend suggests 193b and MrMalty suggests 184b. I wouldn’t say big difference but there’s a difference.

With a 1.050 OG beer, Brewers friend suggests 193b and MrMalty suggests 184b. I wouldn’t say big difference but there’s a difference.[/quote]
You’re right. It’s me. I just ran my numbers again for a lager and found where I screwed up. Bad data in=bad data out…

Thanks to all for the advice. Aside from using a calculator, I just wanted to see if I could sum up starter sizes, times, etc. from everyone’s experience/preferred methods.

I never decant starter wort prior to pitching. I’ve never had a problem yet, even in the most delicately-flavored beers. Here it is, directly from Mr. Malty himself:

[quote]Q: At what point do I pitch the starter into the wort?

A great deal of discussion rages over this topic. Should the starter be fermented completely, the spent liquid decanted, and the yeast pitched or should the entire starter be pitched when at the height of activity?

Most yeast experts say that when propagating yeast, moving at high krausen is optimal. The time of high krauesen can range anywhere from a few hours to twenty-four or more. It depends on the amount of yeast added to the starter wort, yeast health, temperature, and several other factors.

Doss says a starter made from an XL pack of yeast into 2 liters of wort will reach its maximum cell density within 12-18 hours. If you’re starting with a very small amount of yeast in a large starter, it can take 24 hours or more to reach maximum cell densities. For the average starter, let’s just say that the bulk of the yeast growth is done by 12-18 hours.

I like to pitch starters while they’re still very active and as soon as the bulk of reproduction is finished, usually within 12 to 18 hours. This is really convenient, because I can make a starter the morning of the brew day or the night before and it is ready to go by the time the batch of wort is ready.
[/quote]

http://www.mrmalty.com/starter_faq.php

(Emphasis mine.)

[quote=“Ken in MN”]I never decant starter wort prior to pitching. I’ve never had a problem yet, even in the most delicately-flavored beers. Here it is, directly from Mr. Malty himself:

[quote]Q: At what point do I pitch the starter into the wort?

A great deal of discussion rages over this topic. Should the starter be fermented completely, the spent liquid decanted, and the yeast pitched or should the entire starter be pitched when at the height of activity?

Most yeast experts say that when propagating yeast, moving at high krausen is optimal. The time of high krauesen can range anywhere from a few hours to twenty-four or more. It depends on the amount of yeast added to the starter wort, yeast health, temperature, and several other factors.

Doss says a starter made from an XL pack of yeast into 2 liters of wort will reach its maximum cell density within 12-18 hours. If you’re starting with a very small amount of yeast in a large starter, it can take 24 hours or more to reach maximum cell densities. For the average starter, let’s just say that the bulk of the yeast growth is done by 12-18 hours.

I like to pitch starters while they’re still very active and as soon as the bulk of reproduction is finished, usually within 12 to 18 hours. This is really convenient, because I can make a starter the morning of the brew day or the night before and it is ready to go by the time the batch of wort is ready.
[/quote]

http://www.mrmalty.com/starter_faq.php

(Emphasis mine.)[/quote]

I’ve done it both way and can’t say one is better than the other, but I like to make my starters ahead of time and not worry about if it’s at high krausen ( like the quote says a few to 24 hr and I’ve see even longer with old yeast.)

But to awnser the op’s question when I use liquid yeast I make a 1800 ml starter ( for 5 gal) If it’s a big beer 1.075 or bigger I will make a small beer first the repitch or use 2 packs of dry yeast. Since I started doing 10gal batches I use dry yeast more because making that much yeast is a pita.

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