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My first yeast starter

Until recently I’ve always used dry yeast for my beers. I’ve done a couple low gravity beers with liquid yeast but just dumped yeast pack in. Now I want to up my skills some by making a starter.

I’m using Wyeast 1084 for an Irish Stout. The whole process was really simple and I have it on a stir plate now.

My question is how do you know when the starter is done or ready? Is it just a matter of time on the stir-plate or should I be looking for an appearance change? My plan is to cold crash and decant after removing it from the stir-plate.

pic is about a minute after I put it on the plate.


There doesn’t seem to be much wort for the yeast to feed on. Typically I boil around 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup DME for the starter. They have a video here viewtopic.php?f=38&t=100676 that shows how to do it.

Thanks Dave. That was a good video but didnt answer my question at all. Those are the exact quantities I used. 2 cups water, 1/2 cup DME. I think it looks like less because I’m using a large 2000 ml flask. Maybe some boil off too.

Let me start by saying that I try to not be in a position where I am needing to rush any part of brewing. With bunches of full kegs and several other batches in various stages of primary or secondary, I never NEED to brew to avoid running out of beer.

That said, I don’t rush starters either. So I will put on a stir plate for a couple days and then turn the plate off overnight. In the morning, if the yeast settles out and the top liquid is pretty clear, I consider it done. If there is any question, I will run it for another day. I always give time for two days of cold crashing before brew day

A starter should be finished in 18-24 hours.

And by “finished” I interpret to mean “ready for next stage,” whether that next stage is cold crashing, or a bigger starter, or direct pitching, is up to you.

2 cups is small, if your gonna go through all the trouble why not make 1500 ml or more. I’ve have heard that two small of a starter can be worse than just pitching one vial, they need enough food to grow and be healthy . But to answer the original question it looks different when fermentation is done, from my own experience if it’s fresh yeast 24hr or less it’s done, older yeast 2-3 days after that cold crash for 1 or more days then decant when I’m ready to pitch. You can also pitch the whole starter at high krausen if you don’t have enough time to go through the whole process(8 to 24 hr)

Thanks guys. I pulled it off the stir plate after 24 hours and let it settle. The wort looked pretty clear so I put it in the fridge to cold crash. Going to brew today.i guess I was just wondering if there was a more scientific way of determining ‘done’ other than check it after 24 hours.

You can do a biochemical sensitivity analysis - in other words, taste it; if it’s no longer sweet, you’ve fermented most of the sugar. Or, check the specific gravity of the starter with a refractometer.

Sure, but honestly what’s the point? If you’re a bit under it will still make beer. If you’re a bit over you’ll still make beer. How much precision is REALLY needed in the pitch rate? I’d rather get retentive about temperature control and just pitch yeast in the ballpark.

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