Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Yeast Starter

Hey everyone

Im still new at this and I’m planning on brewing up my second batch soon and I wanted to get your opinion on yeast starters. Is this something you recommend doing for every batch you brew? I read that it is ok not to do it with certain beers but others told me to do it all the time. I brewed a Hefeweizen without a yeast starter but that was my first brew and didn’t know exactly what to do.

Also, if you recommend using a yeast starter all the time should I just buy a yeast starter kit off of midwest supplies or any other site?

Thanks for the help

With liquid yeast it’s generally a good idea. I use a glass 1-gallon jug and sanitized aluminum foil for the top, and it seems to work fine. A stir plate is nice, but not absolutely necessary.

Personally, I only do them on beers over 1.060 or lagers. There are many other ways to improve beers before doing starters. The one I see most ofter overlooked by new brewers is temp control.

I mostly use liquid yeast and when I do I always make a starter 1/3 larger than what I need for the batch I’m about to brew. On brew day I decant 1/3 of the starter into a sterilized 8 oz Mason jar and refrigerate it for use on a future batch (where I again make a starter.) I used to harvest yeast from finished fermentations, but this way is so much cleaner and easier…

Dang! Missed my Dos Equis opportunity… :smiley: When I do brew starters I do the above as well.

Just an observation, but I had an American wheat and a Scottish ale go south on me when I didn’t make a starter-- one started at 1.057 and the other at 1.060. Wow, those off flavors are truly awful! I also poorly aerated, though, and since going to oxygen I’ve had a big improvement. I don’t have nearly the experience as most of these people, but I’d agree to spend the money on temp control and oxygenation, and if you can’t then go for a largish starter in an old jug and shaking it up as often as possible. You can get most of the way there without the fancy stir plate and flask, although those do look nice…

By the way, a nasty under-attenuated phenolic wheat beer makes an awesome base for a sour!

I agree with the most important point in this, that there are more important things for a new brewer to focus on before tackling starters. With liquid yeast, I’ll always do a starter, but I can’t get liquid yeast packs as fresh as the LHBS in the US typically carry.

You don’t get the same level of variety with dry yeasts, but if you are brewing a beer for which there is an appropriate dry yeast available, that allows you to avoid the whole issue until you are ready to get to it some time in the future.

Whether or not you need a starter depends upon the volume of wort, the estimated OG of your beer, the age of the yeast, and if the yeast may have been mishandled. Look over these two sites for more information.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitc ... alculator/ http://www.yeastcalc.co/yeast-pitch-rat ... calculator

Starters are simple to do without any major equipment. Sanitation is of course very important. Also plan ahead. A simple starter without any agitation can take three days to complete. Allow a couple of days to refrigerate for decanting the starter wort from the yeast before pitching.

It is just about impossible on a homebrew scale to pitch too much yeast. You will find that pitching enough viable yeast, and keeping the ferment temp in check are two of the most important things you can do to improve your beer once you get the basics down. The recent beers I have made where they fall a little short have had yeast issues. Not water, fermentability, recipe, etc. Yeast. We make the wort, they make the beer.

Make the starters. They are fun and will make your beer better :cheers:

[quote=“Pietro”]It is just about impossible on a homebrew scale to pitch too much yeast. You will find that pitching enough viable yeast, and keeping the ferment temp in check are two of the most important things you can do to improve your beer once you get the basics down. The recent beers I have made where they fall a little short have had yeast issues. Not water, fermentability, recipe, etc. Yeast. We make the wort, they make the beer.

Make the starters. They are fun and will make your beer better :cheers: [/quote]

Good points here. Any problems caused by too much yeast won’t likely be noticeable to the homebrewer, but problems with too little yeast can and will jump right out at you. Bottom Line: if you use liquid yeast, make a starter. I make a 2 liter starter with a stir plate for the small stuff, and a two stage 2 liter starter for lagers and anything bigger than about 1.060 or so.

For a not high gravity 5 gallon batch I find Wyeast Activator direct pitch packs work fine as do most good dry yeast packets like Safale products. Good aeration helps also. Since I most always do 20 gallons making a huge, like 3 gallon starter makes more sense to be able to only use one pack for 4 times the beer. If you don’t mind the extra step, making one anyway sure won’t hurt and should insure you have a good strong fermentation.

BTW I moved this thread to yeast and fermentation but left a “shadow” in general.

My experience is that every beer over 1.040 will benefit from a starter.

I’ve only done one beer so far with a starter, a Belgian with a OG of 1.056. It worked out well. I got the flask and stir plate off Craigslist so I was able to save about $50 on equipment. I plan on doing one for each beer over 1.040 OG.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com