Author Topic: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast  (Read 760 times)

Offline dglucasii

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Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« on: November 19, 2013, 06:06:18 PM »
I'm making a mead this weekend and I'd like to do a starter this time around like I do my homebrews.  What would be the best food/fuel to use as a starter for the Champagne Yeast?  Honey(plus nutrient)?  a Little corn-sugar? I'm assuming no DME.
A little advise please...thanks!

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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2013, 07:59:25 PM »
dry yeast? I don't think you want to do a starter. But I could be wrong
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2013, 08:10:08 PM »
You definitely DON'T want to do a starter with dry yeast for beer. Probably the same concept for wine. Dry yeast are ready to go out of the packet (you may want to rehydrate if so inclined) and a starter could actually weaken their cell walls and cause them to use up their glycogen reserves.
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Offline dglucasii

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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 09:03:36 PM »
Sorry for any confusion...not a dry yeast...arrived in a punch-pack.  When I get these for my CA ale yeasts, I'll do a starter of about 1/2 cup of DME to 2 cups of water, boil for 10 min, cool to 70 degrees and add all to a clean growler (with ferm lock).  What would I use here, if anything?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 09:55:31 PM »
Just a guess but I'd think a starter of whatever you are making and about 1.030-40

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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2013, 10:30:18 PM »
Yeah, a 2 cup starter isn't really doing you any good. minimum you want about a quart. but it depends on the gravity of the must. check out yeastcalc.com or mrmalty.com. those are for beer, and it's certainly possible mead wants difference cell counts but it's a place to start.
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2013, 04:54:30 AM »
Sorry for any confusion...not a dry yeast...arrived in a punch-pack.  When I get these for my CA ale yeasts, I'll do a starter of about 1/2 cup of DME to 2 cups of water, boil for 10 min, cool to 70 degrees and add all to a clean growler (with ferm lock).  What would I use here, if anything?

Believe it or not, for your beer yeasts, you may be doing more harm than good with a starter that small. As morticai suggests - check out the pitching calc at www.mrmalty.com. FWIW the new smack pack and vials (as opposed to the ones 10 years ago) have a much greater cell count than they used to. (and make sure your starter wort isn't too strong either, which can also cause a lot more problems than it fixes. A starter wort should be not much higher than 1.030 - my hunch is your starter wort for your beer is a good bit higher than this.)

As far as mead and wine goes I believe that the necessary cell count in actually lower than with beer but I don't have any firm info on that. I'd still always make a larger starter than 2 cups.
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2013, 05:16:32 AM »
Wine yeast starters are the result of brewers trying to make wine.  :D  Wort is a tougher environment with sugars that are on a gradient from completely fermentable to unfermentable. Getting the last of those marginally fermentable sugars requires large amounts of healthy yeast. Sugars in must are completely fermentable, so yeast don't have a problem finishing. Also, yeast growth seems to produce more off flavors in beer, but not in wine. At Michael Fairbrother's (Moodlight Meadery owner) NHC presentation, he said he's just growing yeast for the first three days of fermentation (aerating to keep it in growth phase). You'd never do that with beer.
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2013, 08:36:45 AM »
I am no master of wine/mead to say that you should make a starter, but if you are going to make a starter for champagne yeast I would suggest either apple juice or the combination of a small amount of DME/LME plus simple sugar and water to get a starter around 1030. You want to give the yeast something with a wide range of nutrients and either apple juice or extract will provide that. I wouldn't use straight sugar and water or honey because they lack sufficient nutrients, even if you supplement with packaged yeast nutrient.
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2013, 08:55:12 AM »
You only need 5 g of dry yeast for 5 gallons of mead vs 11+ g for beer so there is a good chance that you don't need to make a starter with your liquid yeast.  Making mead is quite different from making beer.  Check out http://www.morebeer.com/public/pdf/wmead.pdf for good instructions on fermenting mead (I have a different perspective on packaging mead).  There is also a lot of good information in back issues of Zymurgy (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/1256/NDzym05_MasterMead.pdf) and in the homebrewing seminars on this site.
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2013, 10:48:28 AM »
When I get these for my CA ale yeasts, I'll do a starter of about 1/2 cup of DME to 2 cups of water, boil for 10 min, cool to 70 degrees and add all to a clean growler (with ferm lock).

I can't help with the mead question, but you should revisit your starter procedures. You're making a >1.090 starter wort, which is going to be tough on the yeast, and by using an airlock you're denying them access to the oxygen they need to reproduce. You might actually be ending up with fewer cells than you started with.

http://www.mrmalty.com/starter_faq.php
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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2013, 12:15:14 PM »
I am no master of wine/mead to say that you should make a starter, but if you are going to make a starter for champagne yeast I would suggest either apple juice or the combination of a small amount of DME/LME plus simple sugar and water to get a starter around 1030...

FWIW - Anytime I've used apple juice in a starter the apple flavor carried over into the finished batch.

At Michael Fairbrother's (Moodlight Meadery owner) NHC presentation, he said he's just growing yeast for the first three days of fermentation (aerating to keep it in growth phase). You'd never do that with beer.

I always thought wine/meadmakers didn't make starters because they primarily used dry yeast...

Michael uses Lavlin 71-B (IIRC), a dry yeast, which would give significantly more cells/pack than a liquid yeast pack. Even if wine/mead is more forgiving, shouldn't you still need to start with enough healthy cells?

I think he also mentioned that he 'beats the hell outta this stuff' and doesn't understand how mead could get oxidized, so I'm assuming you could aerate throughout the growth phase with no problems... right?

(PSA: I am no wine/meadmaker)
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Offline ericclev

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Re: Starter "fuel" for Champagne Yeast
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2013, 03:10:49 PM »
Not a mead maker here either, but after I took up brewing, a family member got hooked on mead making and I did a lot of reading about it to try and help answer some of his questions.  In everything I read, I do not recall ever hearing of making a starter.  There is a lot of info about feeding the yeast nutrients, and oxygen (and some debate on what and how to accomplish both of those); with most mead recipes calling for additions of yeast nutrient on a schedule based on either time, or gravity readings.  Apparently honey is practically devoid of the nutrients the yeast need for healthy cell wall growth.  So mead makers either follow one of the nutrient addition schedules, or many recipes will call for additional things like raisins that will naturally add the needed nutrients.

As for starters for beer - several of the folks with earlier posts have much more experience than I do with that, and I would carefully consider the advice they have shared.