Author Topic: Yeast starter question  (Read 708 times)

Offline ANDREW.GROGAN1

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Yeast starter question
« on: August 06, 2014, 01:51:44 PM »
I am going to be doing a beer in the next few weeks that has an OG of 1.070.  I will be doing a yeast starter for the first time.  Based on some online calculators it's telling me I need approximately 323 billion yeast cells for a 5 gallon batch.  By my math and the math of the same online calculator, that means I need a starter size of about 7 liters.  That is a huge starter....How is that even manageable?  Do I really need a starter that large?

Offline rjharper

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 02:20:05 PM »
Theres a couple of primary factors that determine how big your starter needs to be.

1) Yeast viability - the fresher your yeast the more viable cells you have. For liquid yeast, a week old vial of WLP had 90 billion viable cells. A 3 month old vial has 45 billion. The older your yeast package the more growth you have to do. - check you have the right date for your yeast in the calculator.
2) Starter stirring - if you stir the yeast starter, you'll keep all the yeast in suspension, and aerate it better, meaning much more growth. Using a fresh vial, the difference can be 4.25L unstirred versus 1.33L stirred. - do you stir your starters
3) Note that the starter may also vary in volume depending how many yeast packs you start with.

An alternative is to use dry yeast and just toss in a couple more packs.

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Offline duboman

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 02:20:44 PM »
What calculator are you using? I like http://www.yeastcalc.co/pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator#.UzwRD_k7um4

How old is your yeast, that will be part of the determining factor on size of starter. You might need to do a stepped starter menaing you would start with say, 1.5L, let it ferment out, crash and decant and add an additional 1.5L and repeat.

It will also depend on whether you have a stir plate or not to get things going or if you plan on periodically shaking. Give us a little more info and we can get more specific with recommendations.

Edit: rjharper chimed in as well:)
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Offline Steve in TX

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 02:31:29 PM »
You may need to make it in steps. The calculator linked above works well with that. You would take roughly 3 steps at 2 liters unstirred.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 02:45:26 PM »
An OG of 1.070 isn't all that high.  My completely unscientific process is: make 2 quarts of starter wort, add 1 package of Wyeast, shake like crazy and walk away.  That's 2 to 4 days before I brew.  On brew day I stick it in the fridge, decant and pitch it in the wort.

Every batch is rolling within 6-10 hours and I haven't seen any issues.  I understand the idea of perfection but I really do believe that "perfection is the enemy of progress".  Sometimes we just get obsessive over this stuff.

YMMV

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Offline erockrph

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 03:49:41 PM »
At that point you're better off brewing a small beer to pitch on top of. Even a half batch (2-3 gallons) would be fine. Since I brew 3 gallon batches I don't often need starters. When I do I usually just brew a batch of something low gravity and pitch the fresh slurry into my barleywine/doppelbock/etc.
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Offline ANDREW.GROGAN1

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 07:11:40 PM »
The yeast will be just over a month old by the time I get to brewing with it. I do not have a stir plate. It's not in the budget right now but I could certainly shake it up a few times a day.

Offline a10t2

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2014, 07:25:27 PM »
For normal ale pitching rate, that's ~240 billion cells. Nothing wrong with pitching more if you want, but I thought I'd mention it.

Make a 2 L starter (or 3 L if you want to over-pitch a little) and swirl it as much as you can.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 09:14:00 AM »
I am also curious what calculator you used to come up with that high of a number. Is this for a five gallon batch? If so, you only need around 250 billion cells which you should be able to obtain from a 3-4 liter starter.
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Offline NorthTexasOfferings

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2014, 04:50:31 PM »
Yes .... there is a big error in there somewhere. For my higher gravity beers I pitch a 2000 ml yeast srarter that was made with a heaping cup of dry malt extract and a Wyeast pak of whatever yeast style your recipe calls for. Cheers!

Offline Steve in TX

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Yeast starter question
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2014, 05:08:43 PM »
The calculator linked above (yeastcalc.co) gives a similar number when using the high gravity ale setting. I use mr malty personally.

Offline hokerer

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2014, 07:01:34 PM »
At that point you're better off brewing a small beer to pitch on top of.

This is the way to go.  Plus you have two different beers instead of just one.
Joe

Offline CroceBrewing

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2014, 07:33:37 AM »
I am going to be doing a beer in the next few weeks that has an OG of 1.070.  I will be doing a yeast starter for the first time.  Based on some online calculators it's telling me I need approximately 323 billion yeast cells for a 5 gallon batch.  By my math and the math of the same online calculator, that means I need a starter size of about 7 liters.  That is a huge starter....How is that even manageable?  Do I really need a starter that large?

I can't imagine ever needing a yeast starter even close to that large for a 5 gallon batch. My last three starters were between 1L and 1.5L, and during that time we've made a really beautiful IPA and American stout, which each started with OGs of 1.062. It definitely depends on the age of your yeast, but in each case we used fairly fresh WLP001.

For those starters, we used roughly 6 cups of water to 1.5 cups of DME, and let it sit on a stir plate for 24 hours. Unless your OG is extremely high, and unless your yeast is really old, I don't think you can go wrong using a starter beween 1.5L and 2L.

Since you don't have a stir plate, swirling or shaking every so often will definitely help yeast growth.

Good luck.


« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 07:38:38 AM by CroceBrewing »
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Offline mattybrass

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Re: Yeast starter question
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 08:37:20 AM »
+1 to mr malty. I only use yeastcalc when calculating stepped starters which i rarely have to do unless im brewing a lager with very old yeast.