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I was reading White Labs' Homebrew Starter Tips page, and the following got me thinking:

Keeping the Original Gravity low is important because you want to keep the yeast in its growth phase, rather than its fermentation phase. The fermentation phase will create alcohol which can be toxic to yeast in high concentrations.

If the goal is to provide nutrients and oxygen to the yeast to induce growth while avoiding fermentation, wouldn't a very dextrinous wort be best? Would it make sense to produce the starter wort by steeping Carapils alone?

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The answer from White Labs is kinda misleading. There really aren't discreet phases like that. The Crabtree Effect saya that in the presence of a >.05% glucose solution, fermentation will begin immediately. Carapils does have fermentable sugars,although not to as great a degree as other malts. You could use carapils for a starter, although it may not be the best choice.

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After further thought, I suppose the yeast would require "fermentable" sugars to power the growth phase so a highly dextrinous wort wouldn't work.

  • Yep that is correct. Also, you don't want to create a starter with simple sugars, like table sugar, because the yeast might loose their ability to metabolize the sugars in grain. – Graham Sep 10 '14 at 17:14

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