Homebrewing: Yeast Starters Lesson Learned

Last weekend I brewed a Witbier and a Baltic Porter.  For both of them, I purchased Wyeast smack packs.  My problem is that I generally don’t have much lead time on when I brew, so I end up taking out my yeast a couple hours before I start brewing.  This has always worked out with the Smack Packs, except for this time.  After 60 hrs my Witbier is cranking away, but the Baltic Porter shows no sign of life.  I spent the last day vigorously shaking the carboy to activate the yeast without any luck.

Activated Muntons Dry Yeast pitched in 1/2c water

Activated Muntons Dry Yeast pitched in 1/2c water

In order to save my Baltic Porter I pitched 2pkgs of Muntons dry yeast in a 1/2 cup of water.  Because of the time the beer has been in the primary I don’t want to wait to make a full starter, I doubt there is much of a co2 layer on top of the beer in 6.5gal carboy to protect the unfermented beer.  I used 2 packages of yeast because the original gravity on the beer is 1.082 and there will be a ton of sugar for the yeast.

My lesson learned, make sure I plan enough time for a starter, 2 days out, especially for high gravity Beers.  With the Smack Packs, they need be “Smacked” the day before to make sure they swell correctly.  I’ve been brewing for a long time and usually it takes a problem like this for me to change my habits, “why fix it if it ain’t broken?”

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3 Responses to “Homebrewing: Yeast Starters Lesson Learned”

  1. nate Says:

    I made the same mistake with a trappist style beer…I re-pitched and saved the batch…turned out delicious!

  2. Michael Reinhardt Says:

    I hate when my yeast doesn’t do what I want. I’ve been fighting with my Extreme Imperial Stout to keep my yeast moving. I’ve definitely come up with a better way next time. I’ve even made a starter a week out for really big beers. Anyway, learning is the point, so I’m sure it was valuable in that respect.

  3. Simply Beer Says:

    The Imp. Porter I just brewed, I only made the starter 2 days out. 1st a 800ml starter day1 then day two I doubled it to 1600ml (almost a half gallon. And that beer had been fermenting like a banchie for the last 2 days (i’m 3 days into ferementation). After a couple bad packs of yeast, I now make a starter for everything, the Bigger the estimated beer the higher gravity starter and bigger volume starter I make. This last starter was 1.055 where as most of the time they are around 1.040-2


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