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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: sailortodd on July 23, 2011, 05:33:52 AM

Title: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: sailortodd on July 23, 2011, 05:33:52 AM
I am brewing in just about 24 hrs, and don't have time to make a starter at this point really (or as far as I understand, I don't). I have never used one before, and had no problems as far as I could tell, but maybe my senses just aren't yet refined enough to figure out the subtle off tones from too-stressed yeast. My interest now is because as I've read more, it seems like the rule overwhelmingly rather than the exception. Next time I'll use a starter. However, now, I'm at a point where it's too late. So, how important is it really with one vial of WLP001 California Ale yeast pitching into a beer of approx 1.055 OG?

If I don't, do I need to go to the LHBS and buy a second vial? Just go with the one as I've done in my ignorant past with no noticeable ill effect? My experience has been that WLP001 is fairly robust, and carries its weight like a worker ant, but it seems like there are some major supporters of the yeast starter. Thanks in advance for the advice.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: euge on July 23, 2011, 06:13:10 AM
You'll have about a 36 hour lag most likely. I've done it before. Probably do it again. Some might suggest delaying the brew session until a starter can be made. Up to you as the brewer.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: pyrite on July 23, 2011, 07:01:39 AM
It makes a difference.  The yeast gets a big head start when you make a starter. Even with the time you have left, I would make a starter.  But I can't convince you of that, you have to see the effects for your self.    
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: tom on July 23, 2011, 12:48:22 PM
24 hours is enough time for a starter:  www.mrmalty.com
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: Mark G on July 23, 2011, 01:20:26 PM
24 hours is enough time for a starter:  www.mrmalty.com
You definitely have enough time if you pitch the starter at high krausen.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: a10t2 on July 23, 2011, 03:20:41 PM
Real-world blind tasting results: http://seanterrill.com/2010/05/09/yeast-pitching-rate-results/
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: nateo on July 23, 2011, 06:00:39 PM
"Using a starter makes better beer." <- True (from my experience)

I used to have a lot of problems with head retention and weird flavors. Then I began using starters, and my beers got a lot better in a hurry.

Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: denny on July 23, 2011, 06:32:09 PM
I agree...my experience is that any beer I've made a starter for turned out better than any beer I didn't.  You'll never know if you could have the same results unless you try it.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: mabrungard on July 23, 2011, 08:08:46 PM
In my opinion, its always a good idea to use a starter with White Labs vials just to 'proof' the yeast.  That is one good thing about the Wyeast bags is that you have visual proof that the yeast are viable going in.  Unfortunately, you don't have proof that the numbers are there though.   The additional benefit is the multiplication of the yeast mass with the starter, even when its for a few hours. 
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: sailortodd on July 25, 2011, 07:18:54 PM
Well, despite overwhelming concurrence that I should make a starter, I ended up not getting around to making one. The 24 hrs prior to brewing were chock full of activities away from home that prevented me from being able to get to the LHBS for some DME, or to make the starter (Green Flash official grand opening at their Mira Mesa location was packed BTW). From here on out, I will plan more effectively and get a starter going a couple of days in advance of brew day. Thanks for the advice, and sorry I didn't listen this time...
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: majorvices on July 25, 2011, 10:32:03 PM
If you don't have time to make a starter use US-05. It's pretty close to wlp001 (close enough often enough, especially for hoppy ales) and best of all, it doesn;t require a starter.

Just to back up and answer your question: How important is it to make a starter. Rephrase it this way: How important is fermentation?

The answer: It's everything in beer making. Fermentation flavors make up a majority of the flavors in beer, and pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast is a majority of that equation. I do agree with you that 001 is a work horse, but IME you will get a cleaner, more brilliant beer if you follow proper fermentation techniques.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: bluesman on July 26, 2011, 12:13:41 AM
Pitching an appropriate quantity of clean and healthy yeast into a well aerated wort, at the appropriate temperature, and controlling the fermentation temperature are some of the most important steps a brewer can take to ensure the best quality beer at the end of the day. IMO...these measures make a huge difference in the beer quality.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: brushvalleybrewer on July 26, 2011, 01:30:12 AM
Pitching an appropriate quantity of clean and healthy yeast into a well aerated wort, at the appropriate temperature, and controlling the fermentation temperature are some of the most important steps a brewer can take to ensure the best quality beer at the end of the day. IMO...these measures make a huge difference in the beer quality.

I was also going to mention that the important point is to have a sufficient amount of healthy yeast.

That said, a starter is only one way to get it.

IIRC, a White Labs vial and a Wyeast Smack Pack each contain about 100B cells.

According to Mr. Malty, you need about 0.75M cells per milliliter per degree Plato.

If you were pitching into 6 gallons of your 1.055 wort, you would need 230B cells.

Assuming less than 100% viability, you could pitch 3 vials or smack packs and get close to the correct pitch rate without taking the time to make a starter.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: tesgüino on August 10, 2011, 03:15:32 PM
Look at it this way. You do not have enough of one of the ingredients you need to make the beer you're planning. If I only had half as much base grain as I needed to brew, I'd either wait or more likely do a half batch. Certainly not brew something inferior. Same thing with yeast. I'd rather have less good beer than lots of sub par beer.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: corkybstewart on August 10, 2011, 06:23:12 PM
In my opinion, its always a good idea to use a starter with White Labs vials just to 'proof' the yeast.  That is one good thing about the Wyeast bags is that you have visual proof that the yeast are viable going in.  Unfortunately, you don't have proof that the numbers are there though.   The additional benefit is the multiplication of the yeast mass with the starter, even when its for a few hours. 
I agree about the viability of yeast in WLP vials.  There's no way I would pitch a vial without knowing whether the yeast are alive or dead. 
However, pitching a vial of dead WLP yeast did give me an excuse to meet the brewer at a nearby brewpub to beg for yeast.  We ended up friends and since then I've bought all my malts at brewpub prices. ;D
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: majorvices on August 10, 2011, 07:13:11 PM
Look at it this way. You do not have enough of one of the ingredients you need to make the beer you're planning. If I only had half as much base grain as I needed to brew, I'd either wait or more likely do a half batch. Certainly not brew something inferior. Same thing with yeast. I'd rather have less good beer than lots of sub par beer.

+1
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: Al Equihua on August 18, 2011, 11:30:46 PM
thanks to this thread i finally purchase a flask and DME for making a starter for my next batch. Im shure it will make it better.
Two batches ago i made a Pale Ale and use US5 and went slowly, im going the same recipe but with starter

cheers
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: majorvices on August 19, 2011, 12:58:16 PM
thanks to this thread i finally purchase a flask and DME for making a starter for my next batch. Im shure it will make it better.
Two batches ago i made a Pale Ale and use US5 and went slowly, im going the same recipe but with starter

cheers

Make sure you understand that you make a starter with liquid yeast only, not with dry yeast. When the dry yeast is processed the manufacturers strengthen the cell walls before undergoing the drying process. This is preserved in tact after the drying process. Because a single pack of dry yeast has many more viable cells than a pack or vial of liquid yeast you most likely would pitch the dry yeast into a starter size that was much too small, causing the yeast to deplete the nutrients in their cell walls leaving you with a yeast pitch that is actually weaker than had you simply pitched the yeast dry or rehydrated iwth warm water.

Liquid yeast has the opposite problem. The glycogen/sterols in the cell walls are in tact when they yeast is packaged but they immediately start using those reserves while they sit and become dormant. So making an appropriate size starter (preferably with aeration and nutrients) will allow the yeast in the starter to build those reserves back up.

Check the pitching calc at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea how many packs of dry yeast you need for every batch, or how big a starter you need for liquid yeast.
Title: Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
Post by: Al Equihua on August 19, 2011, 04:57:11 PM
thanks to this thread i finally purchase a flask and DME for making a starter for my next batch. Im shure it will make it better.
Two batches ago i made a Pale Ale and use US5 and went slowly, im going the same recipe but with starter

cheers

Make sure you understand that you make a starter with liquid yeast only, not with dry yeast. When the dry yeast is processed the manufacturers strengthen the cell walls before undergoing the drying process. This is preserved in tact after the drying process. Because a single pack of dry yeast has many more viable cells than a pack or vial of liquid yeast you most likely would pitch the dry yeast into a starter size that was much too small, causing the yeast to deplete the nutrients in their cell walls leaving you with a yeast pitch that is actually weaker than had you simply pitched the yeast dry or rehydrated iwth warm water.

Liquid yeast has the opposite problem. The glycogen/sterols in the cell walls are in tact when they yeast is packaged but they immediately start using those reserves while they sit and become dormant. So making an appropriate size starter (preferably with aeration and nutrients) will allow the yeast in the starter to build those reserves back up.

Check the pitching calc at www.mrmalty.com to get an idea how many packs of dry yeast you need for every batch, or how big a starter you need for liquid yeast.
wow, this is definitely something new for me. even though I am a rookie but I like to learn every day to improve the taste of my beer. obviously when my friends and relatives try to say it tastes beer! but hey I want to improve and learn from experience and that's why on Monday I get my first flask and a chiller (50 ft) to make it better and easier. previously used an ice bath. I live in an apartment and believe me it was a little stressful carrying my hot pot 6 to 7 gallons on the first floor

 I bought some packets of yeast for my next batch and frankly was not on my mind at the moment to use liquid or package yeast

 Do you think that if some yeast nutrient use could improve the population and so have a good result? Would i notice in flavor?
 thanks for your comment