How to make a basic yeast starter
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    There are many reasons to make a yeast starter, I do it to proof liquid yeast and to grow yeast population so that I can wash and reuse yeast. Follow a few basic guidelines and you're off to the races.
    With yeast propagation sanitation is even more important than normal. You are taking a small amount of yeast and giving the food and environment to multiply, wild yeast and other non friendlies can multiply in the same fashion.
    Here is a good read if you want to go more in depth.
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  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Weigh out the ingredients and start boiling the water. I keep this tub o'DME in the fridge for this purpose. I have a 1L flask so I use 75 grams of light DME and 750mLs of water. That should give me an OG of about 1.040, although I never check it.
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  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Be careful at hot break, that stuff WILL boil over and make a mess of your wife's stovetop. Ask me how I know. I usually use on drop of Fermcap if I have it on hand.

    I generally boil for 5-10 minutes. During that time I go fish out my sanitizer squirt bottle, the flask, the stir plate, aluminum foil, etc.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    After the boil I do a quick water bath in the sink. Easy peasy.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Then using a sanitized funnel I transfer to the flask.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Here it is on the stirplate with it's little aluminum foil hat. I leave the foil loose like this because I read somewhere it will let CO2 out and O2 in. I think that is complete BS since it is still covered and CO2 is heavier. But it looks cool too, so I still do it.
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  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    I will add some more pics when I get a chance to take them. Maybe tonight if you're lucky.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • J_ReeJ_Ree
    Posts: 80,457
    When I'm making a fancy starter i make about 400ml of about 1.030. Once that is going strong I bump it up to about a total of 1 to 3L at 1.040 (or higher if I'm making a big beer with it). I don't have a stir plate or a good flask, I just use wine jugs and shake them often.
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  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    shake them jugs!!
  • J_ReeJ_Ree
    Posts: 80,457

    shake them jugs!!


    I say that every time I shake it. It makes it much more fun.
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  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    I need advice. I am leaving town Friday around 5:00. Returning Sunday and brewing mid day, pitch in evening. I want to start a starter Friday before I leave, let sit in fermenter all weekend then pitch Sunday. Around 48 hours as starter. I hear 36 is about as long as you want to ferment, is 48 ok? I don't have a stir plate and can't shake because I will be gone. Suggestions? Thanks.
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    I'm sure it'll be fine. Although not ideal, that method should work in a pinch.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Clarification.... Do you mean that you are going to make the starter in your regular fermenter? I would put it in a smaller jar so you can decant a little liquid off of the settled yeast and just pitch yeast slurry. This will minimize any off flavors associated with the starter.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    When I say fermenter, I mean chamber, in flask
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Ah. Yes I expect that'll work. And with no stirring/shaking it should settle out reasonably well in 48 hours.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • jlwjlw
    Posts: 16,449
    Benvarine said:

    I need advice. I am leaving town Friday around 5:00. Returning Sunday and brewing mid day, pitch in evening. I want to start a starter Friday before I leave, let sit in fermenter all weekend then pitch Sunday. Around 48 hours as starter. I hear 36 is about as long as you want to ferment, is 48 ok? I don't have a stir plate and can't shake because I will be gone. Suggestions? Thanks.



    I guess they could flocculate out in 48 hours. You could always step it up by adding some additional DME as soon as you get home to wake the yeast up again.
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    Then shake my jug again I assume. Do I pour off the liquid before pitching into my wort? Do I pour off, add some DME and water then shake before pitching? I have only made one starter, so pretty new here.
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    jlw said:

    Benvarine said:

    I need advice. I am leaving town Friday around 5:00. Returning Sunday and brewing mid day, pitch in evening. I want to start a starter Friday before I leave, let sit in fermenter all weekend then pitch Sunday. Around 48 hours as starter. I hear 36 is about as long as you want to ferment, is 48 ok? I don't have a stir plate and can't shake because I will be gone. Suggestions? Thanks.



    I guess they could flocculate out in 48 hours. You could always step it up by adding some additional DME as soon as you get home to wake the yeast up again.

    In a starter I think it would be flocc'd out. But I like your DME idea better.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Benvarine said:

    Then shake my jug again I assume. Do I pour off the liquid before pitching into my wort? Do I pour off, add some DME and water then shake before pitching? I have only made one starter, so pretty new here.


    If the yeast looks like it has flocculated out well, then as soon as you get home pour off as much of the starter beer as you can without pouring off yeast. Then add more starter wort (or if you can't decant, just add a concentrated DME/water solution to the full starter) and shake/swirl. Those little dudes should be screaming when you are ready to pitch into the full batch. Prepare for explosive fermentation and make sure the wort is at the bottom end of your temp range when you pitch.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • jlwjlw
    Posts: 16,449
    SeaBee said:

    Benvarine said:

    Then shake my jug again I assume. Do I pour off the liquid before pitching into my wort? Do I pour off, add some DME and water then shake before pitching? I have only made one starter, so pretty new here.


    If the yeast looks like it has flocculated out well, then as soon as you get home pour off as much of the starter beer as you can without pouring off yeast. Then add more starter wort (or if you can't decant, just add a concentrated DME/water solution to the full starter) and shake/swirl. Those little dudes should be screaming when you are ready to pitch into the full batch. Prepare for explosive fermentation and make sure the wort is at the bottom end of your temp range when you pitch.


    Yup. I would do all of this.
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    @benvarine How'd this work out for you?
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  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    Worked good. Seemed to be going ok, I decanted some and pitched remainder in wort and only a few hours later it was bubbling away. I still am uncertain about decanting? Do you want the top stuff or bottom? I heard Jamil Z. say pour off after it settles, then shake up and pour the liquid, not sediment to wort. Am I interpreting this correctly?
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    What settles out is the yeast. It takes a day or so to settle, crash cooling is the best, but I crash chill for a couple days then decant most of the liquid off the top. Leaving just enough liquid to swirl it back up to be able to pitch the slurry.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    So you pitch all but the liquid, or only a little liquid. You said you crash cool it. That settles it out. Does it stress the yeast that you cooled to be pitched into a warmer wort? By chilling it is okay to leave for a few days eh? I have another travel weekend and brew day scheduled upon return so same issue. But by your info, I could make a starter, go for 24-36 hrs, then stick in fridge for two days, upon return decant and pitch after brewing. Do I need to add any fresh wort at the beginning of my brew day and allow to warm up and get multiplying again?
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 80,785
    Benvarine said:

    I could make a starter, go for 24-36 hrs, then stick in fridge for two days, upon return decant and pitch after brewing.


    This is more or less exactly what I do. On brewday take it out of the fridge and decant as you're heating strike water. Swirl it up once or twice and by the time you are ready to pitch it will be room temp. No need to add wort, if it is only a couple days old it will take off like a rocket anyway.
    It's fine to leave it in the fridge for more than a couple days. Well covered it should last a while (I don't know how to define "while" since I haven't pushed the issue.)

    I have used yeast I washed up to 6 months later. I had to step it up twice to get the pitch I needed. There is very little you can do to really hurt it in just a few days. However, sanitation is the trump card here.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    Ok. Thanks. Game on!