Making a yeast starter is a simple way of improving your beer’s flavor and decreasing any lags in fermentation time. In the shop, when I ask customers why they don’t make a yeast starter I get similar excuses every time:
- I don’t know how.
- The equipment is too expensive.
- It takes too much time.
- My beers turn out fine without it.
My answers to each are as follows:
- Making a yeast starter is not only easy, it’s easy to learn!
- You can start making a yeast starter with only $10 worth of equipment and then for $2.50 for each batch. You can always upgrade in the future, but a simple glass jug with a piece of aluminum foil will do the trick.
- Making a yeast starter should only take a half hour. The ideal time to let a yeast starter run is only 16-24 hours, so you can make a yeast starter the day before you plan to brew.
- Your beer may be good now, but with a yeast starter it could be great!
So with all that being said, how do you actually make a yeast starter? I’ve outlined the process below and have created a handout to make brew day a lot easier.
Steps of Making a Yeast Starter
- Step 1: In a small sauce pot bring 2L of water up to approximately 120° F.
- Step 2: When the water has reached the desired temperature add 200 g of DME and stir, making sure to stir out any clumps that may have formed
- Step 3: Bring the entire mixture to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for approximately 10 minutes
- Step 4: Take the mix off of the heat and cover, allowing to cool till it reaches 70° F.
- Step 5: Transfer this mix to a sanitized vessel (Glass Jug or Erlenmeyer Flask)
- Step 6: Pitch the Yeast and Cover (Bung and Airlock or Aluminum Foil)
- Step 7: If possible put the yeast on a stir plate and set to a gentle spin, if not keep the yeast in an easily accessible area and swirl the container whenever possible
- Step 8: Either Cold Crash the yeast and Decant or Pitch Directly into the Wort
Yeast Starter Guide: Making a Yeast Starter