A question we often get asked is how to make a yeast starter. A common misconception is that you need an Erlenmeyer flask and a stir plate. You can make your yeast starter in pretty much any container that's easy to sanitize and will hold at least 1.5 liters. Some people use growlers or 1 gallon glass jugs. We prefer Erlenmeyer flasks as they're relatively inexpensive and easy to clean and sanitize. A stir plate will help your starter finish more quickly but is not necessary. We find that most starters are done within 16 hours on a stir plate compared to about 48 hours with no stir plate.
What you will need:
- 100 grams of DME per 1 liter of water
- Wyeast yeast nutrient (optional but recommended)
- 2 Liter Erlenmeyer flask or similar container
Step 1. A few hours beforehand take out your liquid yeast from the fridge and let it warm up. If it's a Wyeast pack break the nutrient pack inside by firmly smacking it.
Step 2. Stir 100 grams of DME in to just over 1 liter of water. If you're wanting to make a larger starter simply use the rule of 100 grams dme per liter of water. Bring the liquid to a boil. You can use a kitchen stock pot for this step. Note: Some flasks are not capable of taking the heat from your stove and will break. Consult with the manufacture before attempting.
Step 3. Add 1/4tsp of yeast nutrient to the boil and start a timer for 10 minutes.
Step 4. While it's boiling fill your kitchen sink with cold water and ice cubes.
Step 5. When the timer is done cover the top of your flask or similar container with sanitized aluminum foil and put the starter into the ice bath to cool off.
Step 6. Once cooled to around 20C/68F add it to your flask or whichever clean and sanitized container you choose. Pour in your liquid yeast pack.
Step 7. Cover the top of your flask or whatever container you choose with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil.
Step 8. If you have a stir plate drop your clean and sanitized stir bar into your flask and adjust the spin speed. You just need it fast enough to keep the yeast in suspension and introduce oxygen. If you don't have a stir plate simply pick up your starter and swirl around the liquid whenever you walk by. This will help the yeast stay in suspension and the starter finish more quickly.
That's all there is to it. Making a starter is a great way to ensure a fast and complete fermentation. It's also strongly advised if you are brewing a lager or a higher gravity beer with an OG of 1.06 or higher. Some people choose to cold crash their starter and decant off most of the liquid before adding it to their fermenter. If you're pitching into a light lager or any beer where flaws could be easily detected it is probably worth doing.
If you have any questions message us or comment below.
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