As of late I hear about yeast starters. Seems as if everyone is doing one. Truth be told, I do not make yeast starters. I’ve done them so I can learn how to do them, but I just don’t make them for my beers. Call it laziness, call it product of habit, but how I learned how to brew we just never did them. If I felt in the past that there was a need to make a yeast starter, I would always just double pitch yeast. Double pitching yeast is when you just take two packets of yeast and pitch those.
Now there are reasons to make yeast starters. One of the obvious is for monetary purposes. Let’s be honest, yeast is sometimes half of the cost for a recipe. If you make an all-grain batch and it’s a cheap beer, yeast is going to be around $7.00 for liquid yeast; too bad the grains were only $15.00. So if you’re making a 10 gallon batch because it’s a cheap beer, it’s unnecessary spending.
If you are making a beer that has a gravity over 1.080 then you might consider making a starter. There are so many sugars that the yeast tends to lag out usually around the 1.030 SG mark. So having more yeast will help chug along in the fermentation process.
Also if you are planning on doing lagers, making a yeast starter is sometimes helpful. Since it is fermenting at colder temps, sometimes the yeast needs a bit more help to move along the fermentation process.
If you don’t have enough yeast, you tend to get off flavors sometimes. This is caused from the yeast just being stressed out. Stressed out yeast means weird tasting beer.
Like I said, I don’t make them. If I feel that I do need to make a yeast starter then I’ll just double pitch. But this post is not about what I do, this post is really for those that want to know how to make yeast starters. So these are the easy instructions on how to make a proper yeast starter.
- Let yeast sit out at room temp until it reaches room temperature levels (you can do the same thing for dry as well).
- Make starter wort
- Starter wort is .5 quart water and .5 cup of dme.
- This produces a wort that is about of 1.040
- Boil this mini wort for 10 min
- I add just a pellet or two of hops to the boil
- Add .25 of yeast nutrient
- Let mixture cool down to a little above room temp (should be around 75-80F)
- Sanitize the outside of the yeast package (you can do this with StarSan or something like it)
- 2 quart juice bottles work well for this next part
- Pour yeast into jar (see instruction #10)
- Cover the opening with plastic wrap
- Shake the starter to aerate it
- Now put an airlock on the opening of the container or drill a small hole for the lid and put a grommet in with an air lock.
- You should see foaming in about 24-48 hours and should start to see a yeast layer on the bottom of the container
- When the yeast has settled out it is ready to pitch. However the starter is good for about 2-3 days.
- Sometimes it is recommended to add another pint or so of mini wort to it to build up the starter even more.
- Before you plan on pitching the yeast stick it int he refrigerator to flocculate all of the yeast.
- Pour off as much of the liquid as possible so only the yeast slurry remains – then pitch the yeast slurry
And that does it! That is how you do a yeast starter. When you look at the directions on how to make a yeast starter just know that you really do have to have some planning in order for it to work out well. This is one of the obvious pit falls to yeast starters – you have to plan them out and you can’t make them the day of the brew. Of course there are other ways to make starters and you can get into some pretty involved methods, this is just the one I do when I make yeast starters sometimes. Leave your comments and questions below!