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The last 3 all grain batches I've done have been using US-05 (IPAs) or 04 (porter) with yeast starters, which I'm relatively new to. Not sure what I'm doing wrong but the IPAs taste so similar despite very different malt/hop profiles-there is almost a Belgian, yeast flavor quality to them that overtakes the brightness that should be there in the style of IPAs I'm brewing. Before I started doing starters this characteristic never showed up. My porter (the 3rd brew in the aforementioned since utilizing starters) was spot on what I expected flavor wise, but I'm wondering if the malt bill there is such that it would overtake the yeasty taste no matter what.

I'm not sure what might be wrong in my process, as I try to be very careful with sanitization post boil/pre-ferment. Do I need to let the yeast separate 1/2 hour before pitching and get rid of the "liquid-y part" at the top and only pitch the "cake"? Can anyone help?

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Thank you, I will pitch 2 dry packs next time

Why are you pitching 2 packs instead of just one? I use US-05 frequently and just pitch one pack right into wort. Takes 24-36 hrs to get going, but it does get going.

  • I only use 2 if my OG is above .075 or .080 generally – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 14:09
  • The ideal if a proper pitch is for the yeast to multiply no more than 3x before feeding starts. Most packs have a cell count based a wort of 1.045 SG so more calls are needed at the start for higher gravities. In simple terms yeast has a linear life cycle and sugar consuption regardless of the sugars availiable, so more yeast are needed to do it all. – Evil Zymurgist Mar 23 '16 at 14:23
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First thing, its not generally recommended or needed to make starters when using the dried yeast that you listed. That being said its not likely to super hurt you either.

Its likely a combination of issues. To be absolutely sure of your sanitation process be sure you are also sanitizing all your starter equipment too. Treat it just like you do the brewing process. Its a mini wort after all. Upon transferring you make want to spray or wipe down your starter vessel with sanitizer at the neck. If you use a funnel be sure to sanitize it as well.

Depending on the size of your starter you may want to let the yeast settle, pour off most of the spent starter wort, leave just enough to help swirl up the yeast. That starter wort can sometimes be very oxidized and it may or may not contribute poor flavors to the beer.

Too be absolutely sure you don't have a sanitation problem simply pitch two packs of yeast in your next beer to see if the off flavor returns. Then try again using one of the liquid strains for your starter culture and not the dried yeasts.

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    Thank you, I will pitch 2 dry packs next time with no starter, and also try to pour off the majority of the starter wort after settled the next time I do a starter. My starters have been in the 1.5-2L range, and I always pour the whole thing in around high croisin. I use a stir plate for 18-24 hours prior to pitching, so there is definitely a significant amount of oxygen in that starter wort. – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 12:08
  • One more question; I don't suppose at this point (kegged and carbonated) anything can be done to offset that flavor...would a hop ball dropped in offer anything, even if just on the nose? Or even some type of flavoring? – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 13:27
  • You might mask it some with dry hops, and it might fade a bit with time. But once its in your head, you'll always notice it. At least I do. I can't offer much advice for fixing it. I don't regularly try and fix beer that's 'bad'. I just drink what I can, blend it or dump it and move on. – brewchez Mar 23 '16 at 14:44
  • Fair enough. Your help is much appreciated as always! – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 14:45
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IMO you should always decant your starters

Starters are for yeast growth and health. Unfortunately this environment of a starter usually makes terrible beer, because the yeast is allowed to have an ideal metabolism for reproduction as a result they create a lot of unwanted esters.

The main differences between your batch beer and the starter beer (the part you decant) are as follows.

Oxidation Yeast needs a lot of oxygen for reproduction. If using a stirplate the starter beer will oxidize as soon an Alcohol is produced. Giving it the off flavor of wet paper, cardboard.

Heat A good starter is very happy around 80°F. But this temperature is much too high for the desired esters of most beers. Belgians being the exception.

Wort Quality Starter wort is generally just DME, nutrients and a pinch of hops. Most likely nowhere near the recipe of your batch beer.

Wort Gravity Ideal starter wort is only 1.040 SG. Much lower than most homebrews today.

All in all. Pitching the entire starter only adds undesirable elements to your batch beer

High Krausen Pitching This is the practice of pitching the entire starter (no decanting), to reduce lag time in beer. I don't recommend it. But to do it right here's how. You need a similar starter wort as your batch wort. Typically boiled wort is saved and frozen from the previous batch of the same beer recipe. The starter should be kept at the same temperature as the beer will ferment at. Oxygenated at start only, so turn off the stirplate at the start of low krausen to limit o2 exposure. Most importantly, taste the starter beer before pitching at high krausen. If it is close to your batch beer pitch it, if not decant it.

  • Awesome thanks! So turn off the stir plate an hour or so before pitching to allow for separation? Having never done this practice, just want to be sure I'm ready for it next time I brew – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 13:32
  • @ts_watson if you plan to decant, you can leave it on. Typically they are left on past krausen not to oxygenate but to suck krausen back in to prevent a mess. At high krausen the yeast is feeding and past the aerobic growth phase, so no need for oxygen. – Evil Zymurgist Mar 23 '16 at 13:37
  • So it sounds like most if not all of the viable cells are at the bottom of my Erlenmyer flask regardless of whether the plate is on or not at that stage, is that correct? – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 13:49
  • @ts_watson actually the most viable cells are in suspension. So if you plan to decant the starter is taken past all krausen phases and allowed to settle or crashed before decanting. – Evil Zymurgist Mar 23 '16 at 13:53
  • Ahh ok. So perhaps I should begin my starter a little sooner and crash in the fridge so that I can pour off the liquid and pitch mostly the cake with just enough liquid left to swish it around and pitch? Thanks much for sharing expertise!! – ts_watson Mar 23 '16 at 14:00

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