Yeast Starters for Idiots

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Keith66

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Rookie here... I've been reading HBT yeast starter threads all day and still have some very basic questions:

1) Can I make a yeast starter without a stir plate and flask? If so, how?

2) Can I just add 2 or 3 smack packs or vials instead of making a starter?

3) Sounds like liquid is the way to go, but can I use dry? What do I need to do?

I'm asking this after having made a couple ales (yes 2), but I want to make a Marzen/Octoberfest lager, and it sounds like I need a big pitch for high OG and low temp.

Thanks all!
 

ioo

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Rookie here... I've been reading HBT yeast starter threads all day and still have some very basic questions:

1) Can I make a yeast starter without a stir plate and flask? If so, how?

2) Can I just add 2 or 3 smack packs or vials instead of making a starter?

3) Sounds like liquid is the way to go, but can I use dry? What do I need to do?

I'm asking this after having made a couple ales (yes 2), but I want to make a Marzen/Octoberfest lager, and it sounds like I need a big pitch for high OG and low temp.

Thanks all!

1. Of course. Just give the flask a couple swirls every time you walk by.

2. Well yeah, but that gets expensive quick.

3. Dry yeast generally doesn't need a starter. Just rehydrate in warm water while making the wort.
 

forstmeister

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If you haven't done so yet, I recommend you check out the book "Brewing Classic Styles" by Jamil Z. and John Palmer. There is great info on yeast starters and how many packages would be required to skip the starter. There's even a handy chart in the back.

Bigger lagers are gonna require a 2L starter or bigger. If you have a good digital scale and an Erlenmeyer flask that holds 2L you are in business. Measure 200g of DME and put it in the flask. Add water to reach the 2L mark (actually a hair over) and gently boil for 15 minutes. Note: unless your flask is tempered and rated for heat, do not boil in it! Pyrex flasks are suitable for boiling.

Pitch your yeast into the wort once it's chilled to the proper temp (if its a wyeast pack you should have smacked it a while ago to get it going). Cover the opening with foil and shake it up good. Every time you walk by the flask, give it a swirl to keep the yeast in suspension and moving. You should start this process a day before your brew day.

On brew day you can either pitch the whole thing into your wort or cold crash it for a little while and decant most of the liquid off. Then let it warm to room temp and swirl it up good and pitch.

It's just that easy. I did this last Saturday for a Sunday ipa brew. The airlock was chugging away after only a few hours and it still going rather steadily.

Good luck.
 

ScottG58

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Look at MrMalty.com. There is great starter info there. There is also a free online calculator that will help with pitching rates.

With lagers, the pitching rate is much higher than with ales. I think with my last one, I use 3 liter starter on a stir plate. Lagers also need a lot of O2.

My first couple of starters, I just used the swirl it every time you walk by method without a stir plate. It worked. I have decided to brew on the spur of the moment when I did not have time for a starter and either pitched multiple vials of liquid yeast or one packet of dry yeast. (Nothing wrong with dry yeast. I believe that US05, White Labs 01 and Wyeast 1056 are all the same yeast).
 

ioo

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1) Can I make a yeast starter without a stir plate and flask? If so, how?

You can pick up a flask or 1 gallon carboy at most local homebred shops. If you can't find one, a mason jar can work. Really any container will work, so long as it's clean and sanitized. You can simply cover the opening with tin foil (sanitized of course)
 
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Keith66

Keith66

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My yeast experience so far includes:
1) open the dry pack, pour it into the carboy and give the wort a swirl, and
2) smack it, open it, pour it into the carboy and give the wort a swirl.
My wort aeration experience includes:
1) give it a swirl.

VERY LIMITED, I know. I'm just getting started here. I do have a gallon jug (fermenter), and can pick up a pound of LME next time I hit the LHBS. That sounds like all I NEED for my first starter. Advancements will come in time. I'll give Mr. Malty a look for more details.

Thanks all!
 
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Keith66

Keith66

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I'd half fill your gallon jug with wort, pitch the yeast into it, and swirl when I walk by. After 24~36 hours I'd pour the jug into your wort, give it a good stir and let the magic happen.

That's what I'm talking about: Yeast Starters for Idiots! So about this wort... how do you make it? fortsmeister said 200g of DME, 2L of water, boil gently for 15 minutes, cool, add yeast.
 

IslandLizard

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I would not pitch the starter beer into the batch. 2 liters (over half a gallon) of really bad tasting starter beer in 5 gallons of really good wort will be noticeable, later. Just cold crash the starter and only pitch the yeast slurry.

I've made starters from S-05 that was "way past its due date."

The first actual test was to see if the package of S-05 was even still viable after 2 years of freezer storage. And it was, most definitely. It made a great starter and the 1.080 OG IPA turned out wonderful.

I now always make starters. It is the proper way to brew.
 

HBngNOK

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That's what I'm talking about: Yeast Starters for Idiots! So about this wort... how do you make it? fortsmeister said 200g of DME, 2L of water, boil gently for 15 minutes, cool, add yeast.

This is just a portion of the wort you've made for your beer.
 
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Keith66

Keith66

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Most people seem to be saying make a starter in advance, decant off the excess liquid, and add the yeast to the beer wort you just brewed. A couple have said to take some of your beer wort, make a starter with it, then add it back to the main wort. Method #1 sounds safer.
 

rustym

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I have a stir plate and flask now so my steps changed just a bit. This is what I used to do and it's sooooo easy! I used a 1 gallon jug. For a basic 2 liter starter use 200 gms of DME. Put the 2L of water in a pot (plus just a little bit more to compensate for boil off). Once it boils take it off the heat and stir in the DME with a wire whisk. Put it back on the heat and boil for only 5 minutes or so. You only need to sanitize the wort. Take off the heat and cool down in ice in your sink, to 70 degrees or so. Funnel into gallon jug and the pitch a vial or smackpack of your yeast. Cover with foil and shake it every time you walk by it.

If I'm brewing on Saturday, I do all this Wednesday night. Friday morning before I leave for work I put it in the fridge to crash cool. Saturday morning I carefully pour out (decant) the liquid except for about a 1/4" or so. Let it warm up and pitch when your ready.

Do this once and you'll realize how easy it is and you'll look forward to making your starters!

Cheers!
 

forstmeister

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Keith66 said:
Doesn't this conflict with what HBngNOK is saying?

Probably. The method I use has worked for me. I would never leave boiled cooled wort sitting for a couple days while I prepared a starter. Look at the link in the beginning of this thread. Check out some of the threads dedicated to yeast starters (there are literally dozens).
 

grem135

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As many others have said. Make your starter ahead of time.
I make mine 2 days ahead so I can cold crash and decant the spent wort, aerated beer or what ever you want to call it leaving the nice creamy goodness (yeast not the HBT member) and enough liquid to swirl the yeast into suspension to pour the yeast into your well aerated wort. To aerate your wort once its cooled try using a wire whisp and stir the H*ll out of it before pouring in your carboy and topping off. I use a bucket so I top off then stir it up real good.
 
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Keith66

Keith66

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Thanks rustym, I like your easy method for a first-timer without any new equipment. I'll give it a try on my first lager. The long fermentation and lagering time will give me a chance to talk swmbo into letting me buy a flask and stir plate. Thanks to everyone for your input.
 
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