Prepared my first 2L yeast starter yesterday afternoon with 200g DME, 2 L water, 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient. Boiled 15m and cooled. Now the possible problem. I activated and set 1 pk of Wyeast 1010 smackpack on the counter for an hour with NO ballooning of the package. Well I pitched it anyways figuring all the nutrients it needs is in the starter and swirled every so often to aerate. The following picture is 12hrs post pitching. All the yeast has settled to bottom and I have never saw an active krausen. (Maybe sm). Do I have a good starter? I didn't take any gravity readings. What's your thoughts. Tomorrow brew day!
That starter looks fine to me. The smack packs don't always balloon...it doesn't mean anything. Looking at the picture there is a lot of yeast down in the bottom of that jug. I see a fair amount of hot break, as well. But, there's probably some yeast mixed in with the hot break.
When you aerate a starter you promote AEROBIC growth. Aerobic metabolism doesn't produce a kraussen the way a standard (anaerobic) fermentation does. Most of my starters never produce any foam whatsoever.
I would crash and decant that starter and pitch that. Its more likely to make a better beer, than the single vial.
Just spoke with Brewmaster at Blackdragon Brewery and Homebrew in Woodland CA and he is big fan of White Labs and is adamant that I do not need a starter. So, i'm still going to give my starter a taste, but I'm fairly sure it's no good. Just picked up WL 320 and will pitch it directly to my wort tomorrow. Thanks all.
"Need" is a funny word. Its not a question of "need"...you can pitch 1/4th of a vial, and it WILL make beer. You can pitch 10 vials and it will make beer. So, "need" isn't the right question to ask. The question is what pitching rate results in the BEST flavored beer.
I don't really think at this point that there is even an argument to have about pitching rates, anymore. Its so well established at this point. How many NHC gold medals were won last year by pitching a single vial into 5 gallons of anything. Even at 1.035 a single vial is underpitching by 50% according to the 75 million cells / plato / ml rate.
Would that brewmaster consider reducing his profession beer pitch by a factor of 2.6? I doubt it. His beer flavor would definitely change. Why tell a homebrewer something different? Do we somehow have different flavor requirements?
Definately taste the starter....but, you have to have the right expectations. Starters don't taste like beer. You shouldn't expect it to be "yummy". Mostly you are tasting for the absence of sweetness. There shouldn't be a massive amount of alcohol. A starter is pretty low on OG, and don't have much body...A 1036 beer is low on body anyway...then you grow the yeast with O2...and you end up with something low on flavor, and thin and watery. With enough O2, it may even get oxidized. Again, you are mostly tasting for a lack of sweetness which tells you that the yeast used it up.