Author Topic: Starter for big beers  (Read 8355 times)

Offline Wildrover

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Starter for big beers
« on: October 26, 2009, 02:21:39 PM »
I'm going to give a crack at my first wee heavy this weekend.  I'm wondering what I need to do to adjust for the need of increased amounts of yeast. 

I usually just boil about three quarters to a cup of DME in around a liter of water and thats my starer volume.  I'll add the vial and then let it do its thing.  What, if anything, should I do different for a big beer like a wee heavy?  Step up the starter once maybe?  If so, how much?

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2009, 10:06:55 AM »
Depending on the size, it could be as few as 2L and as large as 5.5L. Use Mr. Malty's Pitching calculator, it should give you what you want.
http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

A stir-plate helps tremendously if you have one!

Cheers
Preston
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Offline stevemwazup

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2009, 12:25:28 PM »
     I've read somewhere that with Big Beers you should add the 5 gallons of wort a little at a time, over the course of a few days and that would help the yeast tackle such a big job.

I've been wanting to try this method myself. Instead of dumping the whole 5 gallons of wort onto a yeast cake, add a couple of gallons onto the yeast cake every couple of days.

I hope I understood the article correctly.
stevemwazup
 

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2009, 01:52:07 PM »
Quote
I've read somewhere that with Big Beers you should add the 5 gallons of wort a little at a time, over the course of a few days and that would help the yeast tackle such a big job.
Yes that is one of the techniques you can use if you trust your processes and your cleanliness. Make sure you are quite when you transfer there is a chance you can oxidize your beer. During the last additions you are more likely to oxidize because there is much more alcohol in the mix than wort increasing your chances. This is why I don't practice the process. Instead I make a starter batch, or a small beer (usually the same grain bill, just cut back). Then pitch on the yeast bed.

I add Belgian Candi Sugar to my Belgians but that is usually at high Krausen 12-24 hours into the fermentation. A large Belgian would hide a skunked beer fairly well, but oxidize a scotch and that's a totally different thing. (IMO)

Did the article talk about oxygenating the wort, how many and when to add each addition?

If you are going to do it, it is my understanding: That you want the first couple additions to have oxygen. But after that no more oxygen. The second addition should be at high krausen. Each addition should not be more than 48 Hours apart. The bigger the beer, the more additions. Also transfer as quietly as possible. Roust the yeast from the bottom to get as many yeast cells in contact with the new wort after each addition.

Maybe Fred, Darin or any other experienced brewers that have practiced this technique can weigh in on this...

Cheers
Preston
« Last Edit: October 27, 2009, 02:11:07 PM by UselessBrewing »
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Offline Wildrover

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 03:04:13 PM »
Yikes, I don't know about adding wort a little at a time.  I'm sure it works but I'm not sure I'm comfortable opening my primary up that much.  Can't I just step up my starter? 

dhaenerbrewer

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2009, 06:55:23 PM »
I have personally never tried that technique. Getting enough yeast without overdoing it is a difficult task for big beers. If you have the ability to count yeast cells, that would of course help you out immensely. Underpitch and you end up with a sweet, under attenuated beer. Overpitch and your beer will dry out ( possibly too much ), but you will likely create large amounts of aldehydes and fusel alcohols. One beer and you've got a nasty hangover.

Since you can't count yeast cells lets try this approach. Let's say for a 10 Plato ( 1.040 SG ) beer you pitch a 1 liter starter and get great results. Now let's assume you're going to make a 15 Plato ( 1.060 SG ) beer you would pitch a 1.5 liter starter. 20 Plato ( 1.080 SG ) and a 2 liter starter, and so forth. Without actually counting your yeast cells, you should be able to approximate a good yeast cell count without going too crazy. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.

Darin

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2009, 08:02:06 PM »
I did as darin suggested. About a 3L starter for a 1.095 beer. I used my walk in attic instead of my basement so I'd have a warmer ambient temp and BOOM! Flying airlocks and crawling krausen.  So you may want blow offs for the bigger ones.
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Offline Wildrover

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2009, 10:12:19 PM »
When you say three liter starter do you mean the yeast at the bottom of the three liters of liquid or do you mean all three liters of liquid, yeast, wort, water, all of it? 

Offline bonjour

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 10:23:13 AM »
How big of a beer are you talking about?

Fred

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 01:54:06 PM »
When you say three liter starter do you mean the yeast at the bottom of the three liters of liquid or do you mean all three liters of liquid, yeast, wort, water, all of it? 
Stick it in the fridge so as much viable yeast falls out, and decant off the liquid.

Cheers
Preston
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Offline Wildrover

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 11:02:05 PM »
I appreciate all the help with all of this, (why I love this board), I've done some more digging and asking of some fellow homebrewers and the consensus is not to worry that much about it but I need to get in the ballpark.  So this is what I did.  I went to the liquor store and bought a very cheap bottle of wine because the glass bottle is perfect for what I'm looking for (1 gallon).  My cheapness says I can't just dump the cheap swill down the drain so I'm in the middle of a glass right now (my god!).  Anyway, I put together a large starter of around 3 liters and 9 oz. of DME (all figures approximate).  I took a gravity reading and it was right around 1.040 so JZ's suggestion is right on.  I then dumped my now 24 hr old approx .5 liter starter on top of it.  It looked to be just past high kreausen (sp?) so now I'm reasonably confident I have enough starter wort for my wee heavy but what is an unknown is whether or not my single vial, stepped up once, is large enough of a starter to do the trick. 

According to some, I'm golden, according to others, (at least according to what I can tell scouring the net) I will be no where near where I need to be. 

I'll keep you all posted

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 11:31:49 PM »
I am curious about one thing though.  I've been reading both JP and JZ in their own respective readings and they both advocate adding oxygen to the starter.  Why is it okay to add oxygen to the fermenting starting but not the fermenting wort?

Offline bonjour

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2009, 05:53:03 AM »
Adding O2 to the fermenting wort is frequently done with monster beers (I hope Hansens doesn't read this forum) but MUST be done during the first half (approximately) of fermentation.  Adding O2 helps with yeast growth and health, not alcohol production. 

Fred

Offline SOGOAK

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2009, 07:23:30 AM »
A new brew buddy turned me onto getting cider at wholefoods (wholepaycheck). It comes in the same gallon jugs I bought outright at lhbs but maybe more paletable then ernie and julio gallo
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Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Starter for big beers
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 08:11:23 AM »
Quote
Why is it okay to add oxygen to the fermenting starting but not the fermenting wort?
Because your not drinking the beer produced... It is more for the health of the yeast. If you have some Brew-vigor or other yeast nutrient that will also help.

Cheers
Preston
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