Author Topic: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)  (Read 2548 times)

Offline sailortodd

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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.
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Offline euge

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2011, 11:13:10 PM »
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.
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Offline pyrite

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2011, 12:01:39 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.    
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 05:50:55 AM by pyrite »
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Offline tom

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2011, 05:48:22 AM »
24 hours is enough time for a starter:  www.mrmalty.com
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Online Mark G

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2011, 06:20:26 AM »
24 hours is enough time for a starter:  www.mrmalty.com
You definitely have enough time if you pitch the starter at high krausen.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2011, 11:00:39 AM »
"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.

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Offline denny

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2011, 11:32:09 AM »
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.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 01:08:46 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. 
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Offline sailortodd

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2011, 12:18:54 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...
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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2011, 03:32:03 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.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2011, 05:13:41 PM »
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.
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Offline brushvalleybrewer

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2011, 06:30:12 PM »
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.
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Offline tesgüino

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2011, 08:15:32 AM »
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.

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Realistically, how important is a starter? (dealing with WLP001)
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2011, 11:23:12 AM »
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
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