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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Starters and Stir Plates???
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:07 PM   #1
jreagan
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Default Starters and Stir Plates???

Ok forgive me for asking some super beginner questions, but what I can't seem to find is a basic walk through what we're doing with the yeast starters. I've only done 5 batches so far, 2 extract and 3 all grain and everything has turned out pretty great. I've used dry yeast just pitched right out of the bag into my primary on all that I've done so far, and I'm ready to start experimenting with some different yeasts. I don't know any home brewers in my area and everything I've done with homebrewing has been self-taught from research on the Internet.

My question is what are the basics of preparing a starter? Just when I think I've read an article and I'm sure I've got my head wrapped around what I need to make an easy starter... I'll read another one that sends me back into outer space. Am I over thinking it? What kind of equipment do I need (flasks, stir plates, etc.)?? What is the purpose of making a big starter?

I can imagine that pitching a big bottle of yeast like I've seen in my research online would help kickstart a fermentation much faster but is it really necessary if you aren't in a hurry? I've read where you must have one when using liquid yeasts, but then in most of the brewing videos I've watched they just pour it right out of the slap pack... Can anyone on here walk a noob through this process?

Thank You

PS I'm submitting this thread from my phone at work so forgive my fat fingered spelling mishaps

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Old 06-17-2012, 10:31 PM   #2
MrManifesto
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starters are easy to put together. use something like mrmalty to figure out how big of a starter you need. i go with the old 100g of DME for every L of starter. so if i need 1.5L of starter i fill up my flask to the 1.5L mark and toss in 150g of DME with some yeast nutrient (i don't get real scientific about that, just a dash) and the stir bar. let it boil for 10min and IF YOU HAVE AN ERLENMEYER FLASK put it right into a water bath to cool down. don't do that if you're using regular glass, just wait or you'll have a nice glass explosion. once it's room temp, pitch your yeast and set it on the plate. 24hrs later, you're good.

the purpose isn't just faster ferment, the real reason is to have enough yeast to properly do the job. a smack pack or a vial is ok if you're doing a real low gravity brew but even something moderate, just use a starter. this so important for so many reasons it's impossible to overstate. proper yeast health = better beer. reduced/proper ester profile, less fusel alcohols, everything. i think that poor treatment of yeast is what causes 90% of the "why is my beer so crappy" threads. you should read "yeast", look it up on amazon. it has everything you need to know, much better than i could explain it.

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Old 06-17-2012, 11:14 PM   #3
Rocky71
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I keep it simple. I add in some corn sugar or just plain sugar in a growler with an airlock and a little nutrient and energizer. I usually start with about 4 cups of water, add in a pinch of yeast nutrient and energizer, along with a few heaping tablespoons of whatever sugar and then shake the heck out of it. It starts almost immediately. I'll let it go for a few days before pitching. I usually add two packets of dry yeast if they are the 5 gram packets or one if they are the 11 gram packets.

Keep in mind I do this to keep it easy and simple. And it's better then just pitching the yeast dry into the wort. However, there are programs that tell you how do do it exactly and precisely. I just don't get that precise with it. I choose to be anal about making sure everything is sanitized. When I buy liquid yeast I never bother with starters. I just pitch it in but you could do the same thing.

Quite frankly, unless your starting with a huge OG, a large batch like 10-15 gallons, or something that yeast have issues with, like acidity, starters are not needed. I like them for quicker fermentations and just as a personal preference but they are not needed for the most part. Someone below me will tell you they are always needed. It's like arguing about politics or religion. Everyone has a view point. Do what works for you.

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Old 06-17-2012, 11:14 PM   #4
Uziyahu
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If you're using dry yeast, no starter needed. Just get another pack. Dry yeast is cheaper than making a starter. If you use liquid, then you might want to make a starter.

The most basic thing you need for a starter is a container that you can sanitize, DME, water, and yeast. That's it. I've heard of people using mason jars, milk jugs, or whatever else they can find. I use an erlenmyer flask because I like being able to drop the flask straight into an ice bath to cool it down.

You add your DME to the water, boil, cool to room temp, and then pitch your yeast. Cover your vessel with sanitized tin foil and then shake occasionally throughout the day to keep everything aerated. That's the basics.

If you want, you can add all sorts of contraptions. As with all things homebrew, you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. I built a DIY stirplate (there are plans all over the internet for this kind of build) to constantly stir my starter which increases the cell count dramatically from the "shake" method. Still, the basics starter is pretty simple.

The reason you want one is because the liquid yeast vials or packs don't have enough yeast to ferment most beers without stressing the yeast out. Then they can produce off flavors (so I'm told) or, in the case of my second batch, they won't eat all the sugar (Stuck fermentation) they can and you'll get a beer that's sweeter than you want. To figure out how much yeast and starter you should make, go to this link http://yeastcalc.com/. I use it whenever I brew, because I have to do a couple of steps in my starter because my flask is only 1 liter.

Hope this helps.

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Old 06-18-2012, 12:05 AM   #5
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Thanks y'all this has really helped clear up a few things. I kept trying to read through the yeast part of the forum and it seemed like there were as many ways to get your yeast ready as there were ways to brew! This forum is great about answering questions I think I'd be lost without it.

Thanks

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