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Tangible Differences Using A Starter

Everything I’ve read has talked about the advantages of using a yeast starter, but can anyone with experience report more on the usefulness of using a starter? Also how beneficial is using a stir plate to generate said starter?

Less off flavors, higher attenuation, faster start, less stress on the yeast, ready to go yeast cells for your beer.

I don’t really care what size beer I am making, I use a starter with all liquid yeast.

Would you want to make a beer with a inferior product. Or a recipe for some food with half of the called ingredients. With out the proper amount of yeast you are doing just that.

And for the stir plate, you get a much higher growth rate.

For example in a 2L starter with out a stir plate you would get 204 billion cells with a growth rate of 1.12.
The same size starter with a stir plate 306 billion cells with a growth rate of 2.18.

Basically double the growth rate.

I am not a scientist but in my 5 years using a stir plate I have always had a nice clean yeast slurry to pitch. Since I have followed the advice on the mrmalty calculator I have never had a stuck fermation or had the yeast stop to soon resulting in a sweet sticky beer.

Also I always add oxygen to the woth.

[quote=“muddywater_grant”]Less off flavors, higher attenuation, faster start, less stress on the yeast, ready to go yeast cells for your beer.

I don’t really care what size beer I am making, I use a starter with all liquid yeast.

Would you want to make a beer with a inferior product. Or a recipe for some food with half of the called ingredients. With out the proper amount of yeast you are doing just that.

And for the stir plate, you get a much higher growth rate.

For example in a 2L starter with out a stir plate you would get 204 billion cells with a growth rate of 1.12.
The same size starter with a stir plate 306 billion cells with a growth rate of 2.18.

Basically double the growth rate.[/quote]

Well put! I always make a starter unless my wort (for 5 gals as I would definitely do it for any 10 gal) is under 1.040 and I can’t remember the last time I did a beer that low. Heck, even now I would still make one.

In the meantime between attaining an Erlenmeyer and finding a foam stopper, what other methods would work for covering the yeast starter?

Use 1g apple juice jars. But sense most are plastic, the gallon jugs that the home brew stores sell. Cheaper and larger. Win - Win.

I don’t have issues with using it on a stir plate.

Use a piece of aluminum foil to cover the opening.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Use 1g apple juice jars. But sense most are plastic, the gallon jugs that the home brew stores sell. Cheaper and larger. Win - Win.

I don’t have issues with using it on a stir plate.

Use a piece of aluminum foil to cover the opening.[/quote]

Is it necessary to have a way for excess CO2 to escape? Would putting an empty balloon with a small hole in it around the top work?

A balloon should be work.

They way I understand it is the vortex created by a stir plate not only keeps the yeast in constant contact with oxygen and nutrients but also greatly aids in the gas/air exchange.
In other words Co2 out and oxygen in. So you need a stopper that will breath but not let any contaminates in. A foam stopper or tin foil work well for this purpose. A one way valve like a bubbler will not work.

You can also cap a starter with aluminum foil. Its not as good as a foam stopper, but it should still prevent most particles from finding their way in.

Depends on how you brew, but making a small batch of beer, 1-3 gallons, instead of using a stir-plate can be a cheap and easy way to grow yeast for multiple subsequent batches, plus you get beer to drink if you make the effort to produce “real” wort rather than just shooting for 1.035 and not bothering with hops or grist composition. At that volume, one vial of liquid yeast is plenty.

Personally I think starters are overrated. I have brewed enough beer to see no tangible difference in the final product. There is a study confirming this. Sure for big beers and lagers but for a 1.060 ale… Waste of time IMO. I get around making starters on big beers by using harvested yeast from previous batches. I will make a large starter on lagers. If you wanna geek out on every beer and have the time by all means run o2 into yer stirplate and step it up 3 times before pitching. Heads up though, a starter ain’t gonna fix a beer made without regard to proper pH.

[quote=“Shadetree”]Depends on how you brew, but making a small batch of beer, 1-3 gallons, instead of using a stir-plate can be a cheap and easy way to grow yeast for multiple subsequent batches, plus you get beer to drink if you make the effort to produce “real” wort rather than just shooting for 1.035 and not bothering with hops or grist composition. At that volume, one vial of liquid yeast is plenty.[/quote]This is what I do, especially for lagers.

Just making a lot of yeast is not the answer. Pitching the correct cell count is what I try to do. For example the recommended pitching rate for a 1.048 Ale is 50 to 60 Mi of thick yeast slurry. That would be a whole White Labs tube full of pure thick yeast. When you buy the tubes they are maybe half full of yeast.
I am trying to have a very clean fermentation where the Ale yeast grow about five times the amount pitched with no stress or off flavors…

Even if this is true, I have made a starter enough times where it didn’t “go” and it turned out my wyeast pack had FAR less healthy yeast that I was anticipating. In the days before I made starters, that would have been a bad batch of beer. And to be frank, I do see a tangible difference in the final product.

I make the starter the day before. no mrmalty; just 1/2c. DME & 650ml water boiled for 20 minutes and left on the stir plate overnight. It’s not like it’s a huge time or money investment. (once you buy/make the stir plate.) Constantly shaking up the non-stirplate starters could be irritating; I wouldn’t know.

I don’t always brew beer the same week I buy everything. Opening the yeast the day before and building a starter ensures the yeast is still viable before brewing. That’s pretty good right there. As others have noted, my brews made with starters definitely show activity way before non-starter brews.

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