Monday, October 8, 2012

Easy Steps To Making A Yeast Starter

I'm always afraid I'm not going to pitch enough yeast in my wort, and it is generally recommended to make a starter.  At first, starters seemed complicated and scary, but after reading up and trying it a few times, it is quite simple.  The possibility of over pitching is much less likely than under pitching.  The starter will help ensure there is plenty of yeast for fermentation.  Let's review some if the items needed and 12 simple steps.

Boiling Starter Wort
You will need:
  • Yeast. I buy the Wyeast smack packs.
  • .5 cup Dry Malt Extract (DME), I used the Briess CBW Pilsen (direct info here).
  • Yeast nutrient (optional, but recommended)
  • 1 pint of water, with pot for boiling
  • 32oz of bigger jar with lid (I used a glass juice bottle with twist cap)
  • Sanitizing solution
  • Air Lock (optional) or cap for the jar and aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Steps:
  1. Follow the directions on the yeast pack.  Smack it and let it do it's thing until ready to pitch into the starter.  Do this ahead of time, to give the packet time to swell.
  2. Boil 1 pint of water
  3. Add .5 cup DME and boil for 10 minutes.  This will be your wort.
  4. Sanitize your jar and lid.  Need I remind you of the importance of sanitation?
  5. Add 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient at the end of the boil.
  6. Cover pan for the last minute and remove from heat.
  7. Set the pan in the sink in a batch of ice water for cooling.  Keep until roughly room temperature.
  8. Add the wort to the jar, and shake well to aerate.
  9. Add the yeast and shake again.
  10. Attach air lock, or the lid very  loosely, with some aluminum foil draped over the top.  It is extremely important that air can escape the jar (or you will have a bomb on your hands).  The aluminum foil prevents anything from entering into the jar.
  11. Let it set, and gently swirl it a few times a day, to keep the yeast suspended for maximum results.
  12. After 3 days, cap and place in the refrigerator.  This will allow the yeast to settle our and go dormant.
Starter in the jar
On brew day your yeast will now be ready.  Pour off the beer from the jar, leaving enough to then swirl up the yeast from the bottom.  This will be your slurry to pitch into the new wort.

The words are my own and reflect what I did to make my yeast starter.  Of course, the knowledge originates elsewhere, primarily John Palmer's, How To Brew (Chapter 6).