Yeast starter questions

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by hojo813, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    I'm a few year in and about to begin using yeast starters. I know how to make them but I am fuzzy on the amount. I use wyeast exclusively so that's what I'm asking. Mr. Malty pitching calculator is not available on the app store for Android phones and I do not have a computer at home. My question is...What's a good rule of thumb for the size of the starter. Let's take wyeast 1056 as an example. For a pale ale or lower gravity IPA around 6%abv how big should the starter be? 1L or 2? I know the imperials and lagers require bigger sizes. For instance, most kits of imperial IPAs recommend 2 smack packs for a healthy fermentation. Obviously I know it's better to overpitch bit what's a good rule of thumb? I can see a straight answer on the forums so here I am...I have washed some yeast from a recent pale ale I did and I have four 6oz jelly jars with a nice yeast cake all settled in the fridge. I want to use those to make starters. I am designing my own recipes now so I need to cut costs wherever I can. I just need a little guidance. Thanks guys
  2. frozyn

    frozyn Zealot (577) May 16, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    It's hard to have a rule of thumb on starters as the size of them and necessary DME is dependent upon the age of the yeast pack. Try the Brewer's Friend calculator and see if you can pull that up on your phone, or BrewUnited.

    Are your jelly jars completely filled with yeast cake? Or is it mostly liquid on top of a yeast cake? Also, are there any sort of volume markers on the jelly jars?
    Eggman20 likes this.
  3. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    Oh I haven't started yet. They are mostly sanitized water. I have 4 6oz jars with a small layer of yeast settled on the bottom. I used this link as a reference.

    Awesome read btw:

    I will use each jar as a starter and then use the last one to start the whole process over again but I want to stop at 5 generations as not to get mutations and off flavors.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (436) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    I would read these two articles first:

    The second article has some dated material(White Labs has re-jiggered their packets) but still some good info.

    Not an app, but find a way to access . . . it will walk you through the process. This is actually a better calc than Mr Malty.

    You want to measure the yeast solids in your storage jars. If there are no quantity marking on the side (Mason jars), then take an empty jar and pour water to the same height as your solids . . . then measure this quantity. A rule of thumb is 2 billion yeast cells per ml (not exact but a starting point). Enter this data into the calc above. Just input your wort quantity, OG, yeast date and number of cells and it will compute cells needed and you can create the step(s) required.

    Remember, active yeast will die-off at ~21% per month (accounted for in the calc). The goal is to measure the healthy yeast you will be pitching the same as you measure grain and water.

    Yeast washing certainly works, but I found it easier to make an oversized starter (from commercial packet) and pour off the excess. Then use this excess for later brew days.
    riptorn likes this.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,759) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    A yeast die off of 21% each month used by tools like Mr. Malty is off the mark.

    Below is information I found on the White Labs website:

    “The “Best Before” date comes from hundreds of internal trials, ultimately showing that after five months in PurePitch® packaging the average viability of first generation yeast remains at more than 79%.”

    "Average viability of PurePitch® pure liquid yeast over a period of six months:



    1 month


    2 month


    3 month


    4 months


    5 months


    6 months


  6. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (436) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Yes, White Labs has a different system now. As the OP is locked into Wyeast I didn't want to overwhelm him with more numbers than he could easily digest. For the analytically minded I have posted about WL's new product:

    Ironically, the Mr Malty calculator (Zainasheff) uses the old criteria of the higher die-off rate and their "pitch rate FAQ" references White Labs older process (remember the test tubes?). Looks like it hasn't been updated for about a decade.

    I guess the real question is what is the viability of washed yeast stored in a jelly glass.
    #6 PortLargo, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,475) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    There are many yeast manufacturers. White Labs' viability claims based on improvements with PurePitch are not relevant to others.
  8. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Homebrewer advice: always overpitch.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,759) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup, I do indeed remember the test tubes.

    I had a discussion with Dr. Chris White at the 2013 NHC and I specifically asked him about the 21% die off rate utilized by the Mr. Malty tool. He responded that it was a conservative value. Even with the "test tubes" the yeast was not dying at that rate.

  10. NorCalKid

    NorCalKid Initiate (99) Jan 10, 2018 California

    Brewers Friend has very easy calculators to mess with including a yeast pitching calculater. Look into making or buying a stir plate. The easy/lazy method is to pitch enough yeast without making a starter or harvesting BUT if it fits your budget.
    PortLargo likes this.
  11. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Basically, this ^^^^

    Important to know that, as with most things, there's a "but" that goes along with it.
    GormBrewhouse and JohnnyChicago like this.
  12. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (254) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Always underpitch kveik. As me how I know
  13. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Yeah, a lot of the rules are different for these ‘next gen’ yeasts. But, you know...9 times out of 10 and all.
    Prep8611 likes this.
  14. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    I'm just going to make a 1 liter starter from a jar and call it a day.
  15. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (371) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Well... That's an easy one.
    If you want 1056 do yourself a favor and just pitch 2 packets of US 05.

    For all the rest, more is better. Without a microscope and a lab all of us are working with standard (and not so standard) assumptions. And it works. To be sure plenty of working brewers are also working with these assumptions.

    NorCalKid and PapaGoose03 like this.
  16. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    I know it's been a while...I have 150mL of yeast slurry in 1 pint Mason jars. A 1 L starter should be good no? I'm using 1/2 gallon Mason jars to make my starters. I have a stir plate and I'm all good to go on that route. Not enough room to make a 2L starter. I suppose I could always get home home fermcap. Or I could make a 1.5L starter. What do you guys think?
  17. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    What kind of beer are you pitching it into?
  18. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    Just IPAs and pale ales. No DIPAs or anything .I'd definitely make a 2L starter for those. Just trying to cut costs. I use S-05 during the summer months usually. Wyeast 1056 is really the only one I use on multiple recipes I have come up with.
  19. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    So . . . ales. No real reason to pitch any more than 1L into 5 gallons. Different story if you're making lagers or 100% Brett beers.
  20. hojo813

    hojo813 Initiate (18) Aug 3, 2018 Virginia

    That's what I assumed earlier. Thanks a bunch.
  21. Witherby

    Witherby Initiate (100) Jan 5, 2011 Massachusetts