Author Topic: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter  (Read 1212 times)

Offline robertpreed

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Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« on: November 11, 2011, 08:16:34 AM »
Please forgive me if this is a really newbie question.......

For some higher gravity ales, it is recommended to make a yeast starter which will increase the number of yeast cells from roughly 100 billion to 200-250 billion.    Wouldn't pitching two 100 billion count smack packs do approximately the same thing?   Would that be acceptable.

Thank you.

PS.   I read in John Palmer's book about pitching two smack packs and this led me to believe this was about the same as doing a starter.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 08:40:06 AM by robertpreed »

Offline a10t2

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 09:04:10 AM »
With the Wyeast smack packs, it's essentially the same thing. If the packs swell, you know you have viable yeast, so the starter is just there to increase the cell count.

With White Labs vials, you really have no way to test viability other than to make a starter.

Two packs/vials is about right for an average-gravity (1.050-1.060) ale, BTW. For higher-gravity ales or any lager, you'd need more.
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Offline denny

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 09:56:15 AM »
Two packs/vials is about right for an average-gravity (1.050-1.060) ale, BTW. For higher-gravity ales or any lager, you'd need more.

This is an important point.  Sometimes, even 2 packs isn't enough.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 10:06:48 AM »
Pitching two vials or smack packs as opposed to making a starter wil be fine assuming that the yeast viability is high. I prefer not to make that assumption, so I prepare the appropriate size starter. Making a starter will ensure proper yeast viability.


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Offline wingnut

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 11:23:29 AM »
A couple of variables that are not taken into account with common yeast cell counts:

1.) Yeast "from the factory" were grown in different conditions that in a brewery and have large glycogen reserves and are in a healthier point of life than if it was harvested from a batch of beer, so they are able to reproduce faster/better and smaller counts may be accetable (assuming the number of viable cells are the same)

2.) Yeast from the factory may have had a slightly different nutrient enviornment to grow in than beer, so it may take some adjustment for fermenting beer, meaning increased lag time compared to yeast propogated in a wyeast package or starter or beer.

However, in all cases, age and storage conditions are much more significant in impact on viable yeast cells than in the two points I have made.... 

One great resource is Mr.Malty .com. Jamil has created a utility to compare the number of smack packs to yeast starters to help gauge consistent pitching rates.   I highly recommend it!

good luck!
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 12:14:58 PM »
Not to be a skinflint about it, but making a starter is more economical than two packs.

Assuming that you have the basic equipment to make a starter already, of course, but all you really need is a growler or flask and some wort.  Stir plates are nice, and I'd recommend them, but not truly necessary.
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Offline FRACKER

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 09:02:36 AM »

However, in all cases, age and storage conditions are much more significant in impact on viable yeast cells than in the two points I have made.... 


+1 Wingnut.

I completely agree. In my experience the most important factors in yeast viability are the storage condition and the fermentation conditions. Yeast prefer consistent, stable environments. If they find themselves in a high gravity environment with temps fluctuating more than a couple degrees they tend to go dormant. On the other hand, if they're in a stable environment with lots of food they'll just continue to reproduce into their upper ethanol threshold. 

Offline euge

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 11:41:23 AM »
Don't forget dry yeast! 1-2 hydrated packs are perfect for pitching into a strong ale. I've been following the instructions exactly on the new Windsor dry yeast packs and my lag times are down to less than 8 hours.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Pitching 2 Smack Packs vs Creating a Starter
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 11:58:40 AM »
Don't forget dry yeast! 1-2 hydrated packs are perfect for pitching into a strong ale. I've been following the instructions exactly on the new Windsor dry yeast packs and my lag times are down to less than 8 hours.

+1, Euge.  Also, this discussion is assuming a 5 gallon batch.  I brew 10 gallon batches, mostly, so even for a light ale, I will use 2 dry packs of US-05 for 10 gallons (rehydrated, of course, prior to pitching.)  For lagers, I will make a 5 gallon batch with a sufficient starter then use the whole yeast cake from that batch in a 10 gallon batch.
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