Yeast Starter

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Progenitor of happy maltose munching beasts and bringer of the bubbles; the starter is the cornerstone of every great brew. With a starter you can ensure that you wort will ferment evenly, quickly and happily all while reducing the chances of a stuck fermentation by tenfold. Along with those obvious benefits, a starter can also offer you a chance to harvest yeast for later use, saving the money and time of buying new packets. Learn the simple method to make a starter after the jump.

Frankie Robertson using Inkscape, own work. 06-10-98
MoreBeer.com - Absolutely Everything! for making your own beer at home.

As long as you have 48 to 72 hours before your brew day, some dried malt extract (DME) and a bit of forethought you will have yourself a healthy starter! Whether or not you use a stir plate is up to you but keep in mind, the solution must be continually oxygenated to ensure that the yeast can multiply. More on the biology of that another day.

Ingredients for a 1 Liter Starter
100 grams DME (extra light, unhopped - plain)
1300 ml of water

Tools
Pot & Lid
Whisk
1.5 L Glass Container
Funnel
Sanitizer
Recommended: Scale, Stir Plate & Stir Bar

Procedure
Add water to the pot, turn on heat and add DME. Whisk DME until dissolved and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, set timer for 20 minutes (watch for foam-over). After the time has elapsed, cool pot in sink by surrounding it with cold water. Bring wort temperature down to 80 F or lower. At this point your volume should be about 1000 ml due to evaporation - you will have to adjust depending on your equipment.

At this point your wort is ready for yeast but first you need to transfer it to a proper container. Depending on your stir plate setup, or lack of, you may have to improvise. I use a 1.75 L Jim Beam bottle and a 1/2 inch stir bar on my stir plate.


This setup allows me to create excellent 1 L starters with almost no effort at all. The DIY stir plate that I use will be documented in a following post. The method of yeast harvesting, preservation and reanimation is explained here.

Good luck-


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