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 Post subject: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:59 am 
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I was noticing that it costs about 6 dollars for a vial of yeast, and about 3.50 at my local brew store for enough DME to make a proper starter to double the cell count in a vial. So, it's either 9.50 for a vial of yeast and a starter, or 12 for two vials. Is there any advantage of making a starter over just pitching two vials?

I ask because I've been making starters for a while now, and have been having good success with them, but I brewed a Dubbel yesterday, and got lazy and just pitched two vials of WLP-530. I'd heard that this was just a crazy yeast and with my OG of 1.067, I expected two vials to just take off. But here it is, like, 15 hrs later, and no visible activity. With my starters I'm used to seeing activity in 6 hrs or less. I often get that kind of response from even making just a 1l starter on my stirplate, which according to what I've read, doesn't even produce much cell growth, if any, but it does "wake the yeast up." I am fermenting a little colder than normal (yay for the cooler weather letting me get me ferm temp down) at about 64 degrees as opposed to the 70 I usually get.

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:13 am 
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One advantage of using a starter is that you know ahead of brewday whether or not you have a viable yeast culture. At least this is what I am gathering after my last brew day, and posts in regards to it. I pitched a pack of wyeast 3522 which was several months old, it had a good 20 hour lag time before I noticed any activity in the fermenter. I would guess this is just the tip of the iceburg for advantages, but I am still learning.

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:40 am 
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Find out how many cells you will get using two vials, vs making a starter.

Also, you can "proof" your dry yeast (if you use it) by rehydrating in water (which is recommended by many no matter what). Living yeast will produce bubbles on the water, while inactive yeast will simply make it cloudy. Rehydrating will allow proper cell wall creation when the yeast awake from dormancy.

Back to Liquid Yeast. I believe the cell count for a starter is many many times that of a vial. I'll have to double check to be sure though. So, if that is true, then you would still be farther ahead to make a starter, and I don't think it costs all that much in DME.

Also, if you are interested in saving money, you *could* save your yeast after fermenting the previous batch by "washing" it. That works well if you want to take a bit more time, and if you brew often enough with the same yeast. Look up "yeast washing".

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:55 am 
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It's not so much a money saving thing as a time saving thing. I mean, it actually cost me $2.50 more to buy the second vial than it would have to buy the DME. But it gave me more flexibility. I could brew on any day, and didn't have to worry about getting the starter prepared ahead of time.

Jamil's pitch rate calculator tells me I need either 2.4 vials, or 1 vial and a 1l starter. But I remember reading somewhere that anything less than 2l, and you're not really going to get cell growth, so I'm not sure I'd really get near the required 2.4 vials by just using 1 vial and a 1l starter. Pitching 2 vials, though, gets me closer. I guess next time I make this same recipe, I'll go back to making a starter and see what the observed difference is.

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:38 am 
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I would be willing to say you're good to just use 2 vials. Chris White said 1 vial is enough to pitch by itself in a lower OG beer. Lots of people seem to think they always need to do a starter but I don't think it's always necessary. I don't know the numbers but I'd be willing to bet a lot of the starters people make don't even create cell growth anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:27 pm 
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linuxelf wrote:
I was noticing that it costs about 6 dollars for a vial of yeast, and about 3.50 at my local brew store for enough DME to make a proper starter to double the cell count in a vial. So, it's either 9.50 for a vial of yeast and a starter, or 12 for two vials. Is there any advantage of making a starter over just pitching two vials?


You already said it's not a money thing, it's just a convenience thing... but I think you math is off. I can get a pound of DME for 3.50 - and with that I can make a little more thant 4 liters of starter (I use 100g/liter). For most 1.050 beers, I only use 2 liters - which Jamil says is enough to double your cell count. I pay almost $7 for a vile - so it's $8.75 vs. $14 for me - enough to buy at least 2 more oz. of hops... I don't mind the extra time - as others have mentioned it "commits" me to brewing two days later.


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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:49 pm 
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My DME costs are a bit higher than yours, it seems. If I bought by the lb, that may work out, but then I'd have to find a way to store the unused DME. I'd think it'd pick up moisture from the air pretty easily. My LHBS sells convenient 4oz packets of DME for $1.78.

But here I am, 29 hrs after pitching 2 vials of yeast, and there's absolutely no activity at all in there.

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 Post subject: Re: Starter vs pitching 2 vials
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:27 pm 
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I buy 3 lb. bags of x-lite dme and store the remainders in an air-tight tupperware container and have had no problem with it lasting.

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