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Old 09-10-2005, 12:00 AM   #1
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Default Start of a Starter FAQ

I found myself searching through past threads a couple of days ago, looking for the proper way to make a starter. Thought I'd put what I found together for the next guy.

Rhoobarb and DeRoux shared their takes in this thread. Here are the hilites:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoobarb
I use a 1/2 gallon growler from a brewpub similar to this one. I fill the growler about 1/2 full of water, then dump that water into a pot. Bring the water to a boil, take it off the heat, add ~1 cup of plain light DME, then boil it, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Cover it and cool in an ice water bath. Once cool, transfer it to the growler, add the yeast, cover with sanitiary foil or plastic wrap, shake vigourously, then put an airlock on it. Just like doing a small brew session.

I usually make my starter a day to two before brewing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeRoux's Broux
i use a 2000 ml pyrex flask, 1 cup of extra light dried malt extract, and 1300 ml of water. i heat the water in a small enameld kettle, add the dry extract and stir to dissolve. bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes. pour the wort into the sanitized flask and cover pronto with foil and set into an ice bath in the sink. when cool to the touch (about 15-20 minutes) i add my yeast and put the cleaned/sanitized air lock on it. wrap a towel around it, and let her go to work. i do this the day before i plan to brew. i usually see activity in no more than 1-2 hours. for a lager or high ABV brew, i'd use 2000 ml of water and 1.5 cups of extar light dme.
i got my starter kit from www.northernbrewer.com.
hope this helps.....
cbotrice did it like this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cbotrice
I took the advice from all the sage brewers here and did a starter for my I did last nite. It worked great, used a 1/2 gallon growler with the 3/4 cup dme and 1 1/2 cup water boiled for 10 minutes cooled and thrown in the growler. Then I added the yeast and covered with tinfoil. Worked great, batch was bubbling away when I checked on it some 5 1/2 hours later. MPW
in this thread.

If you need a second opinion:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Brewer
Make sterile wort directly in our heat-tolerant 1000 ml Pyrex flasks. Once cool, pitch yeast into the wort and seal the flask with a stopper and an airlock. Once a frothy head has developed (usually in 1 to 3 days), pitch the active "yeast starter" into your fermenter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LHBS
ONE DAY BEFORE BREWING: MAKE A STARTER
Simmer 2 tablespoons of malt extract & a half dozen hop pellets in two cups of water. Cool briefly and pour into a sterile wine or 22 oz. beer bottle, adding yeast nutrient if desired. Top bottle with an airlock and #2 stopper, allowing starter to cool to room temperature. Shake vigorously to aerate the starter. Use a flame to sterilize the mouth of the bottle and dip the corner of the pouch in sanitizing solution. Snip corner of swollen Wyeast pouch. Pour contents of pouch into bottle and replace the airlock. Store at room temperature. Fermentation should begin within 24 hours.
So there's five variations on the same theme. I like Rhoo and DeRoux's methods myself, but each to his own. Also, here are a couple more links that will tell you way more than you ever wanted to know about yeast growth and yeast culture:
http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/backissues/issue2.3/kingtable.html
http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/backissues/issue2.3/king.html#1

Finally, here's how I did it: Dissolve 1 cup wheat DME in 1 qt. (plus a bit) hot water, boiled for 15 minutes, then cooled in an ice bath. After cooling to under 80, poured in a 1/2 gallon jar, shook real good to aerate, then poured in yeast vial, shook good again and covered with aluminum foil and wrapped with a clean towel. The jug, funnel, and foil had all been sanitized in iodophor of course. Here's how it looked next day:
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Old 09-13-2005, 08:04 PM   #2
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I read a book before i bought my first (starter) kit, and it never mentioned using a starter, or pitching or anything like that... Is this necessary? Seems to me from what Ive been reading around on here, that it's just to ensure that your yeast is active. Can this step be bypassed?

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Old 09-13-2005, 08:48 PM   #3
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It's partly to ensure that your yeast is active, but also to increase the cell count, which decreases lag time. A starter can of course be bypassed, but it's easy to do, and provides a lot of benefits.

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Old 09-13-2005, 08:59 PM   #4
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FrewBrew, starters are multi-purpose w/ one being to make sure your yeast is active and good. liquide yeast from a vial or smack pack doesn't have the amount of yeast cells that a yeast starter has. the more yeast cells pitched = a healthy ferment. more healthy yeast cells mean they don't have to work as hard and produce extra diacetyl and other off flavors, therefore a better tasting brew. also, more healthy yeast will out compete any bacteria for yummy fermentable sugars, therefore keeping it from getting contaminated. also, the more healthy yeast pitched = short lag time. again, less chance for nasties to move in and take over prior to fermentation taking place.

a brewer at a micro brewery in Houston did a side by side test on 2, 5 gallons of brown ale wort from the same brew. in one he pitched a vial of California Ale yeast, the other a yeast starter made w/ the same yeast strain. they did a taste test w/ a local HBC once bottled and carb'd, and hands down, the one pitched with the starter won.
so, to answer your question, can this step by bypassed? of course. will this step improve your brews? of course. it just depends on what effort your willing to put into your brews, and if you want to make the best brew you possibly can.
hope this helps!

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Old 09-13-2005, 09:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeRoux's Broux
a brewer at a micro brewery in Houston did a side by side test on 2, 5 gallons of brown ale wort from the same brew. in one he pitched a vial of California Ale yeast, the other a yeast starter made w/ the same yeast strain. they did a taste test w/ a local HBC once bottled and carb'd, and hands down, the one pitched with the starter won.
When you were at St. Arnold's, did you get to see how they make their starters?
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Old 09-13-2005, 09:25 PM   #6
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El P. What's the reason for the alum foil? A bung and air lock fits nicely in the growler with a wee bit of effort (at least my diameter type does).

I read also about adding alum foil around the top of a saved yeast slurry in a bottle after capping it. I did it the 1st time and just wasn't sure the purpose so don't any longer. Bacteria hate to look at themselves?

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Old 09-13-2005, 09:29 PM   #7
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I did a starter for the first time with my last batch because of all the talk about it here. I wasn't too impressed with the job I did on it. I didn't boil enough wort and only pitched a day before brew day. I have the ingredients for a Belgium Abby Ale coming this week. I'm using a smack pack for the first time. Where is the yeast in one of those? The outside part of the pack or the inner one? I want to do another starter for this and see if I get get it right this time.

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Old 09-13-2005, 09:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertBrew
El P. What's the reason for the alum foil? A bung and air lock fits nicely in the growler with a wee bit of effort (at least my diameter type does).
I've been reading a lot on yeast culture and growth...the one thing that struck me is the necessity of having plenty of oxygen while the yeast are reproducing. I just figure there ain't no more oxygen getting in if there's an airlock, but a piece of sanitized foil will let the thing breath so that there's oxygen available to get dissolved when you shake the thing. I was planning on airlocking it after twenty four hours, but HB99 said it was ready, so I pitched it.

I kink of expect this could generate some discussion, but in one of the links I provided, the chemist that's describing how to culture and grow yeast uses the same technique, so I figured it was worth a try.
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Old 09-13-2005, 09:44 PM   #9
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Aye - I'm no expert on the subject either and just began starters about 6-8 batches ago. The o2 could make sense but I'm not sure how much o2 would get into the liquid if it's not jostled about. You're right, commentary shall follow

I personally am going to get one of those airation stones. Ever since I've gone to all grain with full boils using a carboy I get slow starts even with starters (24-36h). My current means of airating isn't cutting it I believe (electric pump for pool toys).

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Old 09-13-2005, 10:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Is this necessary?
No; I did lots of brews without a starter. But after trying one for the first time, I was so impressed by how fast the fermantation took off, that I no longer skip making one.

Here's another link I found helpful!
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