Alternatives to Starters?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Blackmuse, May 10, 2016.

  1. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    So recently I decided I was a bit sick of making starters and I wanted some other way to increase my pitching rate. My biggest reason for wanting to stray away from starters is that I never quite know when I'll get a free moment to brew and trying to plan out a couple days in advance for a 2L starter has been difficult.

    Anyway, last night I decided that instead of making a 2L started that would need to be stepped up again for a big Belgian ale, I would instead just make a 1 and a half Gallon session beer. I created a very simple recipe that used the same base malts and hops and kept the OG below 1.04. I ended up with 1.5g of 1.036 wort that I put in a 2g fermenter and pitched my yeast.

    I plan on waiting at least 2 weeks and then brewing my big Belgian IPA, bottling this beer (8-10 beers I'm guessing) and dumping the yeast cake in the Belgian. I figure this way if I don't get to brew on the day I think I will then I can simply wait, as long as I get a chance to brew within the next 2 months.

    I figure that a starter usually takes me about an hour and this mini batch only added an hour to the process (I did a 30 min boil) and in the end I'll have an extra six-pack of beer.

    What do you all think?

    Any other alternatives out there (other than buying 2-3 packs of yeast)?
     
  2. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    i've never made a started for my small 2.25 gallon batches. i always pitch 1 dry Safale pack, or one Wyeast pack after transferring to the fermenter, and i've never had an issue yet.

    i guess if you don't want to make a started, just don't and pitch more yeast.
     
  3. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Sorry. I should have mentioned that I usually brew 5.5 gallon batches. The point of the 1.5g batch was to make a "drinkable" starter.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Options:
    1. Accept the under-pitch. You might not get as great attenuation and you might get some additional esters but you could still get a very good beer.
    2. A single smack-pack or vial is good up to 1.050 - brew smaller beers.
    3. Use dried yeast, rehydrated. A normal packet contains about 200 billion cells but if you just sprinkle it on top of wort, you kill off about half.
    4. Use two vials or smack packs.
    5. If available, Inland Island makes liquid yeast with 200 billion cells, good for just about any ale.
    6. Don't do lagers - the required pitch rate is too high if you don't want to a starter.
    7. Do a starter beer: You want to do a big Belgian? Make a small one first (I like them better, anyway). Just brew the beer, then oxygenate the new wort, then run it on top of the reasonably clean yeast cake.
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    if using dry you can add sugar to distilled warm water shake and let it rise, its good for up to 1055 for me but I ferment cold
     
  6. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    your method should work just fine, and you get some beer out of it. Another thing to look into is a couple of newer yeast suppliers that make bigger packages of yeast. Gigayeast makes a package that looks similar to a Wyeast pack but holds more yeast so you won't need to do a starter. There is another company, I think it's called Imperial Yeast, but not entirely sure but they make a can of yeast. Again with enough yeast to not need a starter. This is if you want to use liquid yeast. Dry yeast doesn't need a starter, and there is more good dry yeasts available now then ever before. Styles you couldn't do before with dry yeast are now available.
     
  7. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Nosybear. This was the kind of response I was hoping for.

    1. Under pitch - I have actually decided that I prefer the underpitch when it comes to my dunkleweiss recipe. Very much so. I think I may be trying this with some Belgian strains too.

    2. Smaller beers - funny, even when I do smaller beers the yeast calc on this site tells me I need more... I have also read differently in several other books I have. But I may stop stressing over such things and you know, relax....

    3.I recently picked up a bunch of different dry yeasts to do just that. I'm a big fan of Nottingham yeast and think I may give dry yeast most of my attention from here on out. I even picked up a weissbier strain the other day that I look forward to trying.

    4. Always an option of course. Especially since a starter really only saves me about 5 bucks unless I need 3.

    5. I never heard of larger yeast packs. No one near me carries anything like that but one place may order it if I ask.

    6. I will ultimately do more layers but will definitely either make a mini "starter" beer as I did this time or will pitch several dry packs.

    7. I do this when I brew a dunkleweiss and follow it with a weizenbock.

    Thanks again for the ideas. I was just curious what others do to avoid starters and if anyone had ever done as I just did with the mini starter beer.
     
  8. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    I did this once but couldn't remember why I had added sugar. I think I must have read something similar elsewhere. I'll be digging into more dry yeast soon and will keep this in mind.
     
  9. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reassurance and the tips. I am definitely going to start trying more strains of dry yeast. I especially like that I can keep them stocked and ready to grab whenever I need versus picking it up as needed. Every time I hit the brew store I'll probably grab a pack to hang onto.
     
  10. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    My heaviest recipe is a 1.079. I use one pack of dry, non-rehydrated yeast for everything I make, except for Kolsch. That yeast is not available dry.
     
  11. artbreu

    artbreu Member

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    I second what Nosybear has to say but wanted to add my experience.

    If you have a way of strictly regulating your ferm temps, I find you can get away with under-pitching without dramatically effecting the flavor by staying on the extreme cool side of optimal for the yeast. With Notty I regularly pitch a single sachet (I usually rehydrate, not always) into 5.5 gal ~1.56OG at 12C and although it starts very slowly (sometimes 24-36 hours to first krausen), it always attenuates well and tastes clean enough to my palate. I usually let it sit at 12C for a couple of weeks, then take it out to 20C ambient to let it dry out for a couple of days minimum before kegging.
     
  12. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I shall see about trying this method too.
     
  13. Mosto

    Mosto New Member

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    Have you considered the 'No Chill' method of cooling your wort? Basically, you run your freshly boiled wort into a cube (basically a sealable container, such as a plastic jerry can), an carefully squeeze all the air out to reduce oxidation, tighten the cap, and let the wort slowly cool to ambient temp. Because the wort is going in at such a high temp, it heat sanitizes the container.

    Once it's cooled, it can be kept until you're ready to brew. I've read of brewers keeping wort this way for months to years (although the longest I've left it is about a week).

    There's more info/discussion on the method here:

    http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/articles/article56.html
     
  14. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    I don't think I'd go months with that no chill method, but I have heard of it being done successfully leaving it overnight or 2. You could definitely do that while your starter is getting ready.
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    If the wort is cooled too slowly, dimethyl sulfide will continue to be produced in the wort and if its not boiled away can cause bad flavors, ive personally had this happen or I would question it my self, it is not a good flavor

    and just and fyI you don't want to put a steamy carboy of wort in the freezer to chill all closed up lol wait for the steam to stop first and its fine
     

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