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.
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?”