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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > All-Grain starters?
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:33 PM   #1
HomerJR
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Default All-Grain starters?

When making a starter, does anyone skip the DME and simply do a little mini-mash instead?

For a 2 liter starter, you'd need 200g of DME, which at $4.50/lb would cost $1.98. Or, you'd need about 13 oz of 2-row, which at $1.10/lb would cost just $0.90.

Plus, it's one less thing to keep in the house, and I've almost always got a little extra 2-row in the freezer.

Or am I just being stupid? I've been accused of it (falsely I might add) before.

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Old 01-13-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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I mash starters. I never have DME around and it is a lot cheaper to use all-grain. The downside is the break material seems to be a lot more prominent; but, I don't care that much about it.

The best way I have found is to do a little BIAB method:

1. Fill up the drip-coffee pot with 12-cups of water

2. Grind the grains (1# or so) while the coffee maker HLT is heating the water

3. Put the water and grain bag (I use a 5G paint strainer b/c I have them around)
into a large pot. Check the temp (it's usually ~155 IME) and let it sit for 30-45 minutes.

4. Remove the bag, check the gravity of the wort (refractometer is nice here) sparge as needed to hit ~1.040

5. Boil and cool as usual.

This is usually enough for a 2 liter starter, maybe more depending on efficiency. I have never gotten to technical about mash temps and qt/lb ratios. I'm sure if you want to you might be able to get pretty good efficiency doing things this way. A thought would be to use 1# of grain and 8 cups of water (2qt/lb as opposed to the 3qt/lb) then you would most likely want to sparge to get up to a gallon or so.

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Old 01-13-2010, 03:06 PM   #3
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I mash 5.5 gallons of a 1.039 beer then can it in mason jars. Its so convenient just to pop a lid and dump wort into a flask. Plus it costs me under $4 in grain at $0.51/lb

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Old 01-13-2010, 03:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfohio View Post
I mash 5.5 gallons of a 1.039 beer then can it in mason jars. Its so convenient just to pop a lid and dump wort into a flask. Plus it costs me under $4 in grain at $0.51/lb
How well does it keep? Any tips/tricks/special precautions to take? Do you just store it in the fridge? Do you need to boil it before you can it, or do you wait until you're making the starter?
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:26 PM   #5
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You have to pressure can it or you run the risk of spoilage. Some say you can just put it in a can and leave it in the fridge w/o much risk of spoilage, YMMV.

If you pressure cook/autoclave it I would think it would last for years, at least.

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Old 01-13-2010, 03:40 PM   #6
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Sorry for the confusion. It definitely is canned in a pressure cooker; 15lb for 15 min. No need for a fridge, it should last as long as its sealed.

You don't need to boil it again when making a starter. Just pop the lid and dump the wort in.

My only trick is to heat the wort until hot break then cool it before putting it in jars. It keeps a lot of the protein "gunk" out of the jars

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Old 01-13-2010, 03:52 PM   #7
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I just finished a 3 gal. batch of starter wort. 2 gallons of it is starting a lager yeast now. The rest I pressure canned with the same method mentioned above.

I used brew in a bag method with a sparge dunk. after the boil and after siphoning off the 2 gallons without break material, I used a filtered funnel with a cloth dishrag in it to strain the remaining break material from the wort in the bottom of the pot to be canned. All is very clear now, which is necessary to eyeball yeast counts.

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Old 01-13-2010, 04:03 PM   #8
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Default AG starter

I have very little experience with this, but I have done the following twice.

After I sparge my mash and lauter out what I need, I let the mash tun sit with the little liquid is left for another 30 min or so. I don't get much more out of it but I am usually too busy with my boil to mess with it right away. I then drain the mash/lauter tun into a sanitized gallon jar, and purge with a little c02, and cap. Since the ambient temp of my garage is usually between 30° and 38° right now, I leave it in the garage next to the AG system. I also brew every two weeks, so about Thursday before my next brew on Sunday I bring in the wort to boil it for a few minutes, cool and pitch my yeast vial into my flask with the wort.

The last brew I did I had and OG of 1.043 go to a FG of 1.009 with a starter made this way. The starter wort had a GU of about 25, and the yeast was bubbling normally after about 18 hours on the stirplate.

Just a different experience. I haven't tasted the finished beer that used this method of making a starter, but the first is just about ready to force carb. Tasting the samples I do for gravity readings doesn't lead me to believe it is sewer material. In fact it actually tasted pretty good the last sample I tasted. I am going on the fact that a starter is primarily to wake up the yeasties and populate them--any amount of fermentable sugar will accomplish this to one extent or another.

Now with regards to did I have enough of the little guys with regards to over/under pitching I am still working out using the tools to do so.

But, like I said, I am just experimenting due to the necessity for having wort for starters and not wanting to buy LME like the OP desires.

Will I blow anything up by doing this? Nah.

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Old 01-13-2010, 04:20 PM   #9
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When I'm making a lower-gravity beer (1.035 to 1.050 or so), I often bump the batch size by a gallon or so, then retain some of the wort for starters. I like to freeze it in quart size blocks.

Then, when it's time to make a starter, I grab a wortsicle or two from the freezer, pop 'em into a pan, boil to pasteurize it, chill, and pitch. Very little additional effort, since I don't have to set up or clean a pressure canner, and making an extra gallon of wort on a typical brewday adds about 0.00001% more effort.

Lately, I've been playing around with no-chill methods, which make it even easier to get starters, since I just use wort from the batch I'm brewing.

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