How To Make a Yeast Starter (OG 1.040)Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Creating a simple starter can help assure viability of your yeast prior to brew day, it can also work very effectively to increase the yeast cell count so that you do not under pitch (too few yeast cells) your brew. Under pitching can stress your yeast, impede a healthy fermentation, increase lag time and lead to off flavors. Create your starter anywhere from 24-72 hours prior to pitching.
When to use a yeast starter:
- First, check our Yeast Pitch Rate and Starter Calculator. In general, for a typical ale – 11 grams of dry yeast is enough. With liquid yeast, a starter is recommend to hit the pro pitching rate (which you want).
- When brewing a beer with an OG of 1.060 or greater – ALWAYS.
- When brewing a Lager beer – ALWAYS – the colder fermentation temperature requires a higher yeast pitching rate. A 1-2 quart starter has always been sufficient for my five gallon batches of Munich Helles or Oktoberfest.
- If your yeast is old or past its expiration, stepping it up with a starter is safer, but you should always try to use the freshest yeast possible. Liquid yeast is pretty much completely dead after just under 5 months.
- Yeast pitch rates is a complicated subject, click here to read our article Yeast Pitch Rates Explained.
What you need to create a simple starter:
- Extra light DME (3-4oz)
- 1 quart water
- 4-6 quart sauce pan with lid
- Pyrex flask or a 1 gallon glass carboy
- Tin foil
- Room temperature liquid yeast or dry yeast that has been re hydrated in 95F-105F water
- Bring 1.5 quarts of water to a boil in the sauce pan.
- Measure 3-4 oz of DME and introduce this to the boiling water, stir well, boil 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, placing lid on the sauce pan.
- The boiling process should have reduced the volume to ~1 quart.
- Cool the starter wort in a shallow, cold water bath or in the refrigerator until it reaches the target fermentation temperature of the beer you will brew with it.
- Once cool, pour the starter wort into a sanitized flask or carboy.
- Secure a piece of tin foil on the opening of the flask or carboy and shake vigorously to aerate the wort.
- Pitch the yeast (add yeast into the flask / carboy containing the aerated wort).
- Seal container with a clean piece of foil, or a cork fitted with an air lock.
- Place starter in a dark area where it can maintain the proper temperature for fermentation.
When you are ready to use the starter you can swirl the flask/carboy to rouse the yeast and pitch the entire volume of the starter into your awaiting wort. Likewise, you can chill the starter after fermentation to facilitate the settling of the yeast, on brew day decant the “beer” from the flask/carboy and pitch only the yeast slurry left in the bottom. The starter should start bubbling in about 24 hours and can be pithced into your batch 24-48 hours later (ideal), or up to a week if you refridgerate it.