Saturday, January 11, 2014

Quick start your fermentation using a cheap yeast starter

Some new brewers might be asking how to work with liquid yeast that comes in tubes or yeast saved from a previous fermentation. One way to work with it is to pitch it directly into the fermenter once the wort has cooled. Another way is to make a yeast starter. A yeast starter is essentially a mini fermentation used to bring the yeast out of dormancy.

Yeast Starter 40 oz bottle



To create the most simple and crudest of yeast starters, you'll need the following items:

YEAST STARTER
Tube or jar of liquid yeast
2 oz (about 1/4 cup) Dry Malt Extract
2 cups Water
Sauce pan
40 oz bottle or similar sized container
Aluminum foil
Funnel
Cleaning and Sanitation solution
No fancy bells and whistles like those guys with stir plates
Start by taking the 2 cups of water and put it in the saucepan on the stove. Set the heat to high. Weigh out 2 oz of malt extract and add it to the pan. Use a spoon to stir in all the extract. Boil the mixture, making sure it does not boil over.
A kitchen scale is useful for this application
Once the mixture boils, remove it from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Use this time to sanitize your container. You should also be burping your yeast by carefully twisting the cap to reduce pressure in the tube.
Stir it with a spoon before it boils
 Once the yeast has warmed to near room temperature and the wort mixture is near room temperature, use a funnel to transfer the mixture to your container. Carefully pour the entire contents of the yeast tube into the container and swirl to fully incorporate.
If you don't own a funnel now, I recommend owning one for other uses besides brewing

Cover the opening with a piece of sanitized aluminum foil. The foil will prevent any undesired bacteria from entering the container while allowing any gas produced from the yeast to escape.

Now you must wait about 24 hours before pitching the yeast. You can help the yeast awaken by swirling the starter every so often. Don't worry too much about not being about to swirl it while sleeping, the yeast will still be alive in the morning.

A more professional looking starter would include a large Erlenmeyer flask, a stir plate, and an airlock. In this guide, the foil takes the place of the airlock and the action of swirling the container replaces the stir plate. If you don't have access to that kind of equipment or are not sure if you want to make the investment, this is a good way to get the yeast started. You should see results within one day of pitching your yeast using this method compared to 2-3 from pitching straight from the tube.

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