How to get started making starters

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Dec 16, 2015
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Platteville, WI


Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2010
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You can get a 3000ml flask and a stir plate on Amazon for a little less than that. You don't need all the other stuff in the kit (except the DME).


Dec 17, 2017
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Hey folks,

I'm contemplating getting the stuff I need to make yeast starters.

Is this kit decent? Specifically, is the stir plate a good value?

I use something very similar - I believe the same stir plate? I bought piece-wise, and I think the stir plate came with a lifetime warranty (?). As others have said, I’m not sure you’ll need everything in the picture except for the DME. I also only use a sanitized piece of aluminum foil over the top.


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2018
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Yeah, you definitely don't want to use a bubbler because it won't let in oxygen, the whole point of continuously stirring it. Just cover it loosely with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil.


Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Nov 15, 2013
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Check this out.....
you do NOT want or need a stir plate to make a starter

While the instructions below are for a simple starter that requires no special equipment except a large enough container (about 5L). You can get by with a somewhat smaller container if you use 100% O2 to oxygenate the wort rather than the shake method. Read through the entire thread and you will get the idea. I have done this for a few brews now and it works and its easier than most of the stuff you read about starters.

This is the thread.....

This is from page 3 of the thread and comes from the source of the method who is a yeast wizard (all credit goes to S. Cerevisiae...thanks)

From page 3 of the above thread and....from S. Cerevisiae....

Here's the meat from a posting that I made on another site:

All one needs to make a well-shaken starter is a sanitizable vessel that is at least four times the volume of the starter being prepared, a sanitizable screw-on cap for the vessel, and a funnel. I do not know if anything comparable is available in the UK; however, one U.S.-gallon glass jugs (demijohns in UK speak) are plentiful in the United States. Home brew supply stores sell plastic replacement caps for these jugs that can be sanitized (38mm polyseal screw top caps). If one has money to burn, a 5L borosilicate glass media bottle like I currently use is a very nice toy. However, 5L media bottles can cost prohibitive when purchased new. I acquired my current 5L media bottle as unused laboratory surplus, and it was not cheap. I used a 1-gallon glass jug for a very long time before switching over to using a 5L media bottle.

Preparing the starter medium (a.k.a. starter wort)

The starter medium is prepared like one would prepare a starter any other way. A 10% weight/volume solution is made by mixing 100 grams of pale DME into a little more than 1L of water. The goal here is to end up with 1L of media after the solution has been boiled and cooled to room temperature. I boil the solution for 15 minutes in a 3-quart stainless steel sauce pan (A U.S. quart is slightly smaller than a liter). The media is chilled in the sauce pan with the cover affixed using an ice water bath in my kitchen sink.

Sanitizing the starter vessel, screw-on cap, and funnel

The starter vessel, screw-on cap, and funnel should be sanitized while the medium is boiling and chilling. While I use bleach and StarSan, feel free to use your preferred sanitizer. It is critical that the funnel is sanitized as well, and that one does not touch the inside surface of the funnel after it has been sanitized.

Note: One thing that I like to teach home brewers is to get into the habit of wiping the lip over which yeast or nutrient will be poured with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before decanting yeast, medium, or supernatant (supernatant is the clear liquid that lies above the solids in a starter, yeast crop, or a batch of beer). Wild microflora (yeast, mold, and bacteria) rides through the air on house dust. What we want to do is ensure that we do not drag any dust that may have come to rest on the pouring lip of the container that we are decanting into a vessel in which we intend to grow a culture or ferment a batch of beer. This precaution makes sense If one thinks about what a nurse or doctor does before giving one an injection. The reason why a doctor or a nurse cleans an injection site with an alcohol wipe before giving one an injection is to prevent the needle from dragging microflora that is on one’s skin into the injection site.

Pouring the starter medium

After placing the funnel in the starter vessel, one should wipe the pouring lip of the sauce pan in with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before pouring the starter medium into the starter vessel. I use 70% or 90% isopropyl alcohol. I used to use 95% ethanol (a.k.a. grain alcohol). However, my state outlawed its sale due to teenagers and young adults abusing it. Any 140 proof or better clear spirit will work. Please do not use methylated spirits.

Inoculating the starter medium

If using a White Labs vial, wipe the pouring lip of the vial with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before pouring the yeast culture into the starter vessel. If using a Wyeast smack pack, wipe the outside of the smack and the blades of the pair of scissors that one is using to cut a corner off of the smack pack with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before making the cut, and wipe the cut edge of the smack pack with an alcohol saturated cotton ball before pouring the contents of the smack pack into the starter vessel.

Caping and shaking

Here’s where my method differs from the way the average home brewer makes a starter. The reason why a vessel with a screw-on cap is necessary with this method is because one is going to shake the culture very vigorously for about a minute. I usually tell brewers to shake the starter vessel like it owes you money (think mafia enforcer). The goal here is to attempt to turn the media into foam. That's why the vessel has to be at least four times the volume of the starter. One should then allow the starter to sit for around thirty minutes before loosening the cap to allow the foam to drop.

A well-shaken starter in a 5L media bottle

Pitching the starter

Pitching is one area where most home brewers get it completely wrong. A starter is not a small batch of beer. It is a yeast biomass growth medium. The goal here is to grow the culture to maximum cell density and then pitch it. Maximum cell density occurs at high krausen. Beyond that point, all cell reproduction is for replacement only. Yeast taken at high krausen is much healthier than yeast that is taken from a sedimented starter or batch of beer. That’s why traditional breweries crop yeast at high krausen. Allowing a starter to ferment out and settle places the cells in the yeast equivalent of hibernation where they will have to undo survival-related morphological changes that occurred at the end of fermentation as well as completely replenish their ergosterol and unsaturated fatty acid reserves after being pitched.

High krausen should occur within 12 to 18 hours after pitching the starter. The yeast biomass grows exponentially, not linearly. The yeast cell count grows at a rate of 2^n, where the symbol “^” means raised to the power of, and n equals the number of minutes that have elapsed since the end of the lag phase divided by 90; hence, the difference in propagation time between 200B cells and 400B cells can be as little as 90 minutes.

British Versus American Pitching Rates

If one believes the yeast calculators found on American sites, one will end up growing 2 to 3 liter starters for 23L batches. Frankly, the guys who wrote this code know more about coding than they do about yeast. No two yeast cultures behave the same when pitched, and no two yeast cultures require the same pitching rate. The only thing that will teach one the proper pitch rate for any given strain is experience with the strain in one’s brew house. Additionally, it is often desirable to underpitch in order to achieve a desired flavor profile. British styles benefit from underpitching. I often pitch as little as 60B cells into 19L of wort when fermenting normal gravity beer (i.e., < 1.065). Wyeast 1768, which is allegedly Young’s stain, performs much better when pitched at a rate of 3B cells per liter than at a rate of 10B cells per liter when fermenting normal gravity ale. It produces what I like to refer to as the British lollipop ester when the beer is young. This strain produces a delightfully fruity and malty pint when used with a grist that is composed mostly of British pale malt.


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May 10, 2014
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I use a 1/2 gallon jug. I have a stir plate but don't use it. I also use a stopper and an airlock. The jug sits on the counter and I agitate it when I get up and when I get back at the end of the day and probably before bed if I remember to.
Its simple and cheap, but it works fine for me.
Boiling DME isn't necessary, it was already boiled when they made it; If the water is above 180F or so, the DME will be sterilized.
I don't add yeast nutrient to beer. I've never added any to a starter. Go ahead and throw it in if you think you need it.
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Active Member
May 30, 2019
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I use a growler. Just modified the lid with a little mini blowoff. Leave it on top of the fridge and shake it every time I walk by. Has worked so far and I didn’t have to spend a dime