Author Topic: First batch - call this a dumb question but...  (Read 1123 times)

Offline warrenpbjr

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First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« on: April 09, 2015, 04:44:44 PM »
Okay.. so I started my very first extract brew three days ago. After 24 hours with no airlock activity I started to worry and ran across this site. I read all the post about relaxing but.. that's easier said than done. I'm making a Brown nut ale with a vial of liquid yeast. Last night (after 48 hours of no activity) i went to my local homebrew shop and purchased another vial of liquid yeast. This morning, i was put at ease by the wonderful sight of bubbles percolating through my airlock.

My question is this.. Since there seems to be a common consensus that there are not enough yeast in a vial of liquid yeast to handle a 5 gallon wort and the recommended approach is to do a yeast starter. Why not just buy  2 vials of yeast and pitch them both from the start?

As a newbie.. the extra step seems like another opportunity to screw something up so if it's simpler to just pitch more yeast in the beginning. I dont see why someone wouldn't take that approach until the skill of creating a yeast starter was learned.

Offline robstroud

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2015, 05:20:40 PM »
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you're fermenting in a white plastic bucket, like most of us did at the beginning.  Which means there are other signs of fermentation happening that you can't see.  As long as the wort was cool enough when you pitched the yeast, fermentation will happen.  Since you under pitched by billions of cells, the CO2 just took a while to bubble all the way up to your airlock.

To answer your question: sometimes 2 vials isn't enough.  I just did a started with 2 vials; it totally depends cell counts.  use http://www.yeastcalculator.com/ it's really easy to follow.

As long as you have good sanitation practices, a yeast starter is a really simple step that insures plenty of healthy yeast. 

All that being said, this is beer and math sucks - if you're not confident with making a starter use dry yeast.  There are tons of great dry yeasts out there.

A tip from my own experience of not making a starter - if the bottles don't carbonate after 2 weeks, turn them upside down and store them a 70 degree ish room for a couple of days.  They will carb right up.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 05:27:33 PM »
There's nothing wrong with buying the amount of yeast you need. It's just more expensive. A starter made from DME is less than a dollar's worth of extract versus $6+ for another pitch of yeast. If you're spending an extra $5 per batch (and probably a lot more) and brewing ten times a year that's $50 that could have paid for at least another extract batch. When you start brewing all grain and buying ingredients in bulk then that $50 could be a few batches of beer.

There's no real skill involved in making a starter. If you can brew a batch of beer then you already know how to make a starter. It's just a small volume of extract wort. One cup of DME and two cups of water. Many of us have flasks for our starters but you can make a starter in anything that can be cleaned and sanitized. A growler or other jug is fine. You just need to cover the mouth with foil. Pitch yeast in the starter and let the wort ferment. Then you have more yeast.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 05:46:47 PM »
good advice so far. more vials + more $, so if that's what you want... no problems.

might consider just trying a starter, or using dry yeast (although that seems to be increasing in price).

just go to a yeast calc and figure out the estimated started yeast count and desire pitch rate for type of beer and OG. grab some DME and use the amount from the calculator, boil it for about 15 minutes, cool it and put it into any sanitized vessel capable of holding the volume and krausen. cold crash it and decant most the beer, leaving enough just to mix up the yeast cake.  it really is that easy.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 06:10:53 PM »
In addition to increased cell count, a starter improves yeast vitality and acts as a crude viability check - if the starter ferments out, you have at least some healthy yeast. That's particularly important with the White Labs vials.

One cup of DME and two cups of water.

Just wanted to point out that that should be two *quarts* of water.
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Offline warrenpbjr

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 06:40:57 PM »
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you're fermenting in a white plastic bucket, like most of us did at the beginning.  Which means there are other signs of fermentation happening that you can't see.  As long as the wort was cool enough when you pitched the yeast, fermentation will happen.  Since you under pitched by billions of cells, the CO2 just took a while to bubble all the way up to your airlock.

To answer your question: sometimes 2 vials isn't enough.  I just did a started with 2 vials; it totally depends cell counts.  use http://www.yeastcalculator.com/ it's really easy to follow.

As long as you have good sanitation practices, a yeast starter is a really simple step that insures plenty of healthy yeast. 

All that being said, this is beer and math sucks - if you're not confident with making a starter use dry yeast.  There are tons of great dry yeasts out there.

A tip from my own experience of not making a starter - if the bottles don't carbonate after 2 weeks, turn them upside down and store them a 70 degree ish room for a couple of days.  They will carb right up.


Thanks for the yeast calculator.. I didn't know about that.

Thanks everyone else for the input as well. My next batch I'll definitely try doing the yeast starter and going that route.

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2015, 06:49:12 PM »
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you're fermenting in a white plastic bucket, like most of us did at the beginning.  Which means there are other signs of fermentation happening that you can't see.  As long as the wort was cool enough when you pitched the yeast, fermentation will happen.  Since you under pitched by billions of cells, the CO2 just took a while to bubble all the way up to your airlock.

To answer your question: sometimes 2 vials isn't enough.  I just did a started with 2 vials; it totally depends cell counts.  use http://www.yeastcalculator.com/ it's really easy to follow.

As long as you have good sanitation practices, a yeast starter is a really simple step that insures plenty of healthy yeast. 

All that being said, this is beer and math sucks - if you're not confident with making a starter use dry yeast.  There are tons of great dry yeasts out there.

A tip from my own experience of not making a starter - if the bottles don't carbonate after 2 weeks, turn them upside down and store them a 70 degree ish room for a couple of days.  They will carb right up.


Thanks for the yeast calculator.. I didn't know about that.

Thanks everyone else for the input as well. My next batch I'll definitely try doing the yeast starter and going that route.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2015, 08:56:13 PM »
In addition to increased cell count, a starter improves yeast vitality and acts as a crude viability check - if the starter ferments out, you have at least some healthy yeast. That's particularly important with the White Labs vials.

One cup of DME and two cups of water.

Just wanted to point out that that should be two *quarts* of water.

I was chewing on that one too.  1 to 2 would be be a powerful starter.   :)

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2015, 04:18:11 AM »
Preparing starter wort is much easier using the metric system than it is using Americanized English units of measurement.  The most common starter wort specific gravity is 1.040.  Wort is a solution.  A solution is composed of a solute (DME) and a solvent (water).  A wort with a specific gravity of 1.040 is a 10% weight by volume (w/v) solution. The letter to the left of the slash is the solute measurement.  The letter to right of the slash is the solvent measurement.

Professional brewers use degrees Plato.  Degrees Plato tells us what percentage of a batch of wort is sugar by weight because degrees Plato is a weight by weight (w/w) unit of measurement.  The beauty of using the metric system is that 1 milliliter of water weighs 1 gram; hence, w/w = w/v when the solvent is water. 

Examples

A 1L 1.040 Starter (10% w/v solution)

1000ml  * 0.1 = 100g of DME

in w/v terms, 100g/1000ml

We can make a starter of any specific gravity (SG) by converting SG to degrees Plato.  The American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) polynomial for converting SG to degrees Plato is: 

Degrees Plato = 616.868 + 1111.14 * SG - 630.272 * SG2 + 135.997 * SG3

That's way too much like work to perform by hand.  We can either automate the calculation using software, or we can just use a look-up table such as the one at this URL: http://www.brewersfriend.com/plato-to-sg-conversion-chart/

1.065 S.G. = 16P or 16% w/w, which is 16% w/v when the solvent is water

A 1L 1.065 Starter

1000ml * 0.16 = 160g of DME

in w/v terms, 160g/1000ml

« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 01:26:39 PM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2015, 02:10:44 PM »
In addition to increased cell count, a starter improves yeast vitality and acts as a crude viability check - if the starter ferments out, you have at least some healthy yeast. That's particularly important with the White Labs vials.

One cup of DME and two cups of water.

Just wanted to point out that that should be two *quarts* of water.

Unless you have some really hungry yeast.  ;D
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2015, 09:41:28 PM »
One cup of DME and two cups of water.

Just wanted to point out that that should be two *quarts* of water.

A cup of DME weighs around 315 grams.  A 2L starter is usually made with 200 grams of DME, which is roughly 2/3rds of a cup.  A liter is ~34 ounces; hence, we are looking at 0.667 * 32 / 34  =  ~5/8ths of a cup for a 2-quart starter.  I used a quarter cup per quart when I first started brewing.  A quarter cup per quart yields an SG of around 1.035 depending on how much slop is in one's measurement.   

With that said, the metric system with a scale capable of measuring in grams is the way to go.  The metric system is base-10 just like our numeral system. 

Offline a10t2

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2015, 06:59:54 AM »
Well, my DME weighs about 180 g per cup. Semi-sifted, that is.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2015, 05:29:04 PM »
First these Belgians show up with the Celsius temperatures and now you're telling me I'm supposed to use the metric system.

It's like the terrorists have already won.  8)
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2015, 06:57:08 PM »
Don't forget EBCs.  Plus global warming. And same sex marriage.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: First batch - call this a dumb question but...
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2015, 09:11:28 PM »
If I wanted to use the metric system in the U.S., I'd move to Canada. ;)