How to Make a Yeast Starter

Sometimes it’s necessary to make a yeast starter, especially when you’re making a higher gravity beer (about 1.08 or higher) or when you’re making a lager.  This post will describe how to get a yeast starter going.

Supplies needed:

It is VERY important to have everything sanitized as much as possible.

72-48 hours before brewing do the following:

  1. Take 1 liter (.26 gallons) of water in a pot or Borosilicate glass Erlenmeyer flask  and add 4oz (¾ cup DME Briess DME Golden Light.)
  2. Heat to boiling, stirring so DME doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to 60 degrees in an ice bath.  If using an Erlenmeyer flask the ice bath must not be higher than the liquid in the flask or the glass could be stressed to breaking.  If using a glass jug pour the wort into the jug.
  4. Shake wort to aerate, add yeast, and cover loosely with sanitized tinfoil or a stopper and airlock.

This will produce a starter with an approximate starting gravity of 1.040.

You can pitch the starter at high krausen, or about 8 hours before brewing put the starter in a refrigerator and let the yeast settle to the bottom.  An hour or so before using, take the yeast out and decant off the clear liquid, leaving the yeast slurry behind.  Let it get to pitching temperature (whatever temperature you’re fermenting at) and pitch your yeast.

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2 Responses to How to Make a Yeast Starter

  1. RikR says:

    Ok, got the how, but why? Why make a starter as opposed to pitching yeast directly at the wort?

    • Scott H says:

      For most batches, it’s not really required and just pitching the yeast is fine. Making a starter is designed to really build up the yeast cell count before you pitch it, so they’re ready to go as soon as they hit the wort. You need this mostly if you’re making a higher gravity batch or lager.

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