Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Off The Topper - Yeast Starter question

OK, so I’ve brewed about 6 different 5 gallon kits, but this time I went and spent some extra $$ to get the Off the Topper kit. I also purchased the Vermont Ale Yeast (liquid, in the “test tube”) - first time with a liquid yeast. Very simple question: what is the easiest way to create the yeast starter? I’ve been told 1/2 cup of dried malt extract and 1 quart of water. Boil. Cool to around 75 degrees. Pitch yeast. How soon before brew day do I do this, and, do I stick it in the fridge? Bring to room temp before pitching into the primary fermenter? I really don’t want to mess this up. I’m hoping someone can give me guidance at the most basic level!!

You have found the general directions on making a starter but this will not be to helpful for a specific brew. Starters for a brew are based on the estimated OG of the beer, the volume of beer in the fermentor, and the age of the yeast. This is the yeast starter/pitch rate calculator I like to use. The yeast viability calculator is also one of the best. Yeast viability is based on the production date of the yeast.
The starter/pitch rate calculator.

How to find the production date of White Labs yeast here. Enter the lot number on your vial.
https://www.yeastman.com/Login/Public/Report/PublicLabQCResult.aspx

Ask any question if you are unsure. Many knowledgeable brewers here to help.

1 Like

I just cracked my Off the Topper. This is the second time I’ve done this kit and it’s a delicious summer beer. I have used the Vermont Ale yeast both times. The first time I made a 1L starter. This time I made a 2L starter. The 2L was probably overkill and unnecessary but from my limited understanding of yeast, it’s very difficult to overpitch a batch of beer. I used a 2L flask, filled to the brim (accounting for boiloff loss), dumped that water into a pot on my stovetop and brought to a boil. Then I added 2 C of pale DME with the flame off, stirred it in, and brought the mini-wort back to a boil, Once hotbreak was complete, I boiled for 10 mins. Then I poured the wort back into the sanitized flask and put the flask in an icebath in my sink until it was cool to the touch on the outside of the flask. I shook the “test tube” vigorously to make sure it was all stirred up then pitched it into the flask. I put it on my stirplate for 24 hours at a medium setting with a 2" stir bar. Once it was finished, I put it into the fridge Saturday evening.

I brewed Sunday afternoon so when I began to get my gear out for brewing, I took the flask out of the fridge and set it on top to let it come up to room temp. Once the Off the Topper wort was cooled to 66 degrees, I decanted most of the extra liquid off the top of the starter, swirled the last bit together with the yeast and pitched it into the wort. Then I stirred the entire mixture up with my Mixstir. OG was 1.075, FG was 1.012 after 3 weeks in primary.

:beers:
Rad

2 Likes

Thank you so much! This makes a ton of sense to me. Only drawback: no stir plate. Any suggestions?

A stir plate isn’t necessary as @denny enny will attest to. Make your starter with the shake and swirl method. Pour the starter wort into a sanitized glass jar or jug that will have a little headspace, aerate, and add the yeast. Cover your container with sanitized aluminum foil. Give it a shake and swirl whenever you walk by. On the kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, a good place to keep it. Plan for 48 hours to complete if it is a large volume starter or as little as 18 hours if it is small and the yeast was fairly fresh.

2 Likes

You guys have been so great, thank you! I actually bought a Fast Pitch 1800ml kit because I didn’t have a flask and wanted to at least use something that is “sanctioned” by NB as a good method. Appreciate all of the help and will toast you all when it’s ready to drink! Slainte!

I reread your original post. Make the starter well before brew day to make sure it is ready. The starter could be kept on the kitchen counter for a few days after it is ready without losing viability. Refrigerate if brew day is delayed a week or longer.

Large volume starters you may want to refrigerate after they are done to drop the yeast out faster. This way you will be able to decant most of the spent starter wort on brew day. Leave enough spent starter wort to swirl the yeast into for easy pitching.

1 Like

This is true. I have a stir plate that hasn’t been used in a year or more. The shaken not stirred starter gives me performance as good, maybe better, than with a stir plate. In addition, it’s faster and easier. Not to mention a lot cheaper.

https://www.experimentalbrew.com/blogs/denny/old-dognew-tricks

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com