Yeast starter vs no starter

I have been brewing for 8 years and have always used a yeast starter. I was curious this week that I would try an experiment on making a lager with no starter and a lager with the appropriate sized starter. I am assuming that the no starter will potentially have a longer lag time and more diacetyl, esters, etc.

The experiment is by no means scientific (different recipes but close S.G.) but was wondering if anyone else has tried doing something similar. I remember reading something in BYO (i think) years ago about getting the beer off of the trub, secondary fermentations, but never anything like this.

Any other thoughts or concerns?

Well, certainly with a lager, if you’re not doing a starter you’re going to see a longer lag time and probably a less vigorous fermentation. More likely to get some off flavors from the “stressed” yeast. I’m curious to hear your results. I (almost) always make a starter, and I make a big one for lagers. Either that or try to pitch dregs. However, recently I just pitched two packs of dry (34/70) into 5 gallons and it worked great. I’ve used the dregs to make 2 subsequent lagers too.

Having this happen twice you never want to use stressed yeast. You will get some off flavors.

Seems like a lot of work to experiment with something where you pretty much already know what will happen. Not saying don’t try it out if you still want to, but it’s pretty common knowledge from what I have found all over that underpitching is bad and will cause stressed yeast or stuck/failed fermentations. If you’ve seen the calculators, they all have different calculations for lagers due to the need for more yeast in these beers too, so it’s even more important with a lager.

With an ale, I’d say you have a little more freedom to possibly underpitch and test your findings. With a lager, I’d say the underpitch has bigger consequences.

Just my thoughts!

The lag time for the first signs of fermentation in the pitch of yeast was 36 hours with krausen activity at 48 hours. The first signs of fermentation was 12 hours for the yeast starter and 18 hours for krausen to develop. Now it is a waiting game to the taste test.

I don’t think it is a lot of work to do this experiment. I just think the result could be a batch of beer with a lot of esters to it. I don’t necessarily think it would be bad to have the esters in the lager I was brewing though as I have made the same recipe as an ale with good results. (I have actually been thinking of trying a Belgian yeast with this recipe for even more esters). I know that lagers should not have ester flavors in it but it is occasionally fun to not follow the rules. :evil:

As far as a stuck fermentation goes, it could happen or it may not happen but I could always add some more yeast to get it down to final gravity. This would result in the findings that some rules should not be broken. :cheers:

I see what you’re saying, but what will you do with a beer that tastes weird with a lot of esters/fusels? Drink it anyway? :cheers:

I am just curious to see what it tastes like. Will it taste like an ale or will the fusels/esters be even more pronounced. It can’t be any worse than Blatz, which I drank in college. Looking back the sand in the bottom of the bottles should have been a sign of a bad beer. Yeah, I will drink it and see how better/worse it gets as it ages.

I doubt it would be any worse than the first beer I made after I moved into my new house. I did not think about the terrible taste the chlorine in the water would have on the beer. Thankfully I found out about camden tablets.

Both of the beers finished off to their terminal/final gravity. The beer with the yeast starter had no detectable diacetyl while the beer that I had only pitched the yeast had a subtle diacetyl taste. I have begun the diacetyl rest and I believe the beer will be without the off flavors in the final product, however, only time will tell whether or not that flavor is present.

In the future I will continue to use the yeast starter, especially for lagers though.