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Old 10-16-2009, 05:18 AM   #1
Ksuit
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Default Erlenmeyer Flask?

I decided it'd be a good idea to get a erlenmeyer for starters, but I've got two questions: How big? is 2L more than enough, and where can I get one, either through an online retailer that won't kill me on shipping or what type of brick and mortar store would have one?

Also is there any alternative? Like a big jar with a airlock hole cut in it and properly sealed? I mean I don't see myself getting a stir plate and magnetic stirrers anytime soon.

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Old 10-16-2009, 05:26 AM   #2
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what type of beer? how many gallon batches?

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Old 10-16-2009, 09:23 AM   #3
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I recently got a 2L (and stirbar) from Brewmaster's Warehouse. Most starters for me are around 1.5L (with stirplate). His prices were close enough to other inexpensive online places that shipping made the difference (i.e. I had ingredients coming anyway).

Prior to my stirplate, I did very successful starters in 1 gallon water jugs. Just sanitize it well and shake it often to keep things aerated/suspended. The trick is with the cap: keep the cap sitting on top, but not "clicked" on so that pressure can escape. When you shake, click the cap on, shake, then quickly uncap to release pressure.

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Old 10-16-2009, 02:57 PM   #4
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Cynmar has good prices... 2L Erlenmeyer Flask.

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Old 10-16-2009, 03:23 PM   #5
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I've also successfully made starters in growlers, 2l soda bottles (although not on the stirplate), empty Jack Daniels bottles, mason jars, and vases. Any relatively flat-bottomed vessel will work fine with a stirplate, although some more so than others.

The advantage of a Erlenmeyer flask is that you can make the starter wort directly in the flask, if your starters use extract.

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Old 10-19-2009, 06:18 AM   #6
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Huh, funny thing is I'm actually in Atlanta, and therefore unable to order from Brewmaster's which looks like a great site. For whatever reason that can't ship to the state they're in, even though they're just a few miles away from me. Now it looks like stir plates are out of my price range, can't I just use Flasks on a stove top w/a ceramic tile? The gallon jug/mason jar option actually sounds best, I don't really have to worry about contamination if I just sanitize properly right?

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Old 10-19-2009, 07:36 AM   #7
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What type of stove heating element do you have? Natural gas, electric coil, electric ceramic, etc. From what I've read you can't put an erlenmeyer directly on an electric coil as the heat distribution on them is not great. You need something like a pot between the coil and the flask to distribute the heat.

I use a 2L erlenmeyer for just about all my starters. I'm looking to get a 5L one eventually for lagers, 10 gallon batches and very high gravity ales. Also, I would highly recommend getting some Fermcap-S with whatever container you choose to boil in so that boil overs are not an issue. Boiling without it in a erlenmeyer is a MAJOR PITA.

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Old 10-19-2009, 01:05 PM   #8
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I have made 2 starters now using a sanitized 1 quart canning jar (Mason). I boiled 2 cups of water and added about 1/2 cup of dry extract. Chilled it in the pot with the lid on it by placing it in the sink filled with about 3 inches of cold water. Takes only a minute or two to get it to pitching temp. Poured the wort into the jar and sealed it. Shook it up for a minute to aerate it and then pitched my yeast. Then I placed plastic wrap over the top with a semi-loose rubber band to keep it in place. The rubber band should be tight to prevent the wrap from coming off but loose enough to allow the CO2 to escape. I've let it sit out at room temp for up to 2 days before using. If you can't brew within 48hrs of pitching decant (pour) off some of the wort and mix a new batch, chill and pour onto your yeast cake. Shake to aerate and cover. This will buy you anout 24-48 hours.

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Old 10-19-2009, 02:47 PM   #9
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2L will suit most beer. Its really convenient to be able to boil in the starter vessel.

For stirplates, I HIGHLY recommend StirStarters.com. A very affordable stirplate for homebrewing. He is actually a vendor here at HBT too. If you check out Ebay, you can probably pick one up for a little cheaper than the website. You can also pick up a flask through him too. Its a few bucks more than BMW or other online places, but I don't think $5 will break the bank. You might check if there are lab supply stores in your area. Your LHBS might carry flasks too.

One word of caution: if you buy a stirplate, you must use a flask. The stirbar needs a flat bottomed vessel to work. Growlers and other glass containers aren't flat enough and will throw the bar.

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Old 10-19-2009, 02:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
One word of caution: if you buy a stirplate, you must use a flask. The stirbar needs a flat bottomed vessel to work. Growlers and other glass containers aren't flat enough and will throw the bar.
This is not always the case. It depends on how a particular stir plate is designed and built. The type of stir bar also makes a difference. The stir plates I build can be used with growlers or even gallon jugs. I prefer the flasks as you cannot boil the wort directly in the growlers or jugs.
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