Talking with Mike this weekend, we agree yeast management is becoming the most important aspect of our brewing practice. If we were to go back in time and tell new homebrewers what to work on to improve their beer, we would suggest practicing making mighty yeast starters for their brews.
For this lager series, I want to replicate the amount and the vitality of yeast that one would have after they brewed a few 5 gallon batches with the same strain.
Noted homebrewer Jamil Zainasheff talks about making yeast starters for all his brews, and big ones especially for lagers or beers with high starting gravities.
My yeast starter is going to be mighty for the Bohemian Pilsner. The recipe already calls for the equivalent of 4 liquid yeast vials or packets. Now with the one vial I bought, I need to create a 9 liter starter to get the yeast cell count to match that of 4 vials.
My plan is to do that – create enough wort to make a 9 liter starter and add the yeast vial to it. Once the fermentation is done for the starter, I will drain the “beer” off of the yeast cake in the fermenter (I will need to use a carboy to create a yeast starter this big). Then, pour another starter wort on top of the yeast cake – this time it will be 4 gallons strong.
Once fermentation is over for round two of the starter, I can have my Bohemian Pilsner brew day. I think think procedure will give me the number of yeast cells I need and in the healthy state they need to be in to make an excellent beer.
All this will be done at 50 F, yes?
Actually, I will letting these starters ferment at 65° – 70°F. I will be decanting the beer off the yeast cake so any weird byproducts that the lager yeast give off at this temp will be removed.
Fermenting the pilsner will be done at 50°F.
If you want to ‘step up’ the starter and get an idea of the number of yeast cells using MrMalty, simply make your first starter making sure to toggle the amount of vials used to “1.” Then, just play with the gravity until you get the sized starter you want (3.5L, 5L, etc). Then look at the amount of yeast cells that will create. For example if it will make 350, you then plug that number (350) into the “yeast viability” section for your 2nd starter (the step up one). Then you can toggle around the gravity to your anticipated OG and find out how big the second starter needs to be to ensure you’ve made enough yeast for your lager. Hope that helps