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Yeast Starter Size?


New Forum Member
Jan 8, 2012
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Cary, IL
My good friend and I have recently begun to use yeast starters for our beers, and have been very  pleased with the reduced lag time and vigorous fermentation this has brought to our batches.  However, I am a little confused by how three separate (great) sources of yeast starter information (appear to) differ in their recommendation for starter size, and I was hoping to get some opinions about which one I should follow.  It's probably that I am just not properly using the tools that each of these provide.

Let's take the example of our latest brew, a fairly low gravity American Wheat beer.  This is a 5.25 gallon batch with an O.G. of 1.043.  Many of you may think this is actually a small enough beer to not even require a starter, but all of our sources recommend > 1 pack of the Wyeast American Wheat Ale we used, so I felt it was not a completely unreasonable candidate for a starter.  For this example, we are talking about yeast with a manufacture date of 7/10/2012, and we used a stir plate.

So here are what our three sources by default recommend that we pitch (all of these recommend 1 packet of yeast pitched into our starter):

BeerSmith2 Starter tab: - .55 Liter
Mr. Malty - 1 Liter
YeastCalc - 1.5 Liters

The YeastCalc tool will allow me to manually set the starter size to 1 liter, but it defaults to 1.5 liters, so I presume that he is trying to tell me that this is the optimum inoculation rate (55.3 millions/ml vs 83 millions/ml).  And BeerSmith2 will allow me to manually enter 1 liter as my starter size, and then provides an estimate of cell count based on that, but Brad's default is .55 liter.  If I manually enter .55 liter in YeastCalc, he tells me that is an inadequate cell count.

Would anyone care to weigh in on this?  I picked 1 liter because I use a 2 liter Erlenmeyer flask, and I like the large surface area that 1 liter of liquid in a 2 Liter flask provides (for my stir plate).  I also like that 1 liter is lower in the flask, so boil over isn't as big of a problem.  I have read that inoculation rate is important for starter size; does that mean I should have chosen a 1.5 liter starter size instead of a 1 liter size, since 83 million/ml is kind of at the high end?


Grandmaster Brewer
Jul 8, 2011
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Whatever works. I use 1 cup DME in 940 ML H2O. I pitch half of that into a batch and use the remainder for another starter. As long as you want to use the same style yeast over and over, you shouldn't have to buy additional yeast. Be sure to follow post-boil sanitizing practices.