Making a Yeast Starter

A Yeast Starter is a great way of making sure that you are pitching lots of happy hungry yeast into your wort. They are made by adding liquid yeast to sterilized wort. 

We especially recommend doing a yeast starter if the original gravity is over 1060, if you are brewing a lager or if the yeast pack is past best before date. However, we always do them just to be sure to be sure.

Yeast Starters are not recommended for Dry yeast. However, rehydrating dry yeast is recommended – here is how to do it:

•    Use wort of approximately 1.040 sg for starters. This works out to be 200g of dry malt extract (DME) per 2 litres of water.  We pack our yeast starter pack in this size along with a measured dose of Wyeast yeast nutrient: 
•    To make a 2 litre of wort for a starter for a batch of beer you will need a bottle of about 3 litres volume, a bored bung to fit and an airlock. A 3 litre Erlenmeyer flask is a great option: You can boil, cool and ferment in it;
Otherwise a saucepan and plastic or glass bottle of 3 litres or more will work well.
•    Dissolve the DME or starter in 2 litres of water then boil with foil over the opening for 10 minutes. Dissolve the DME by stirring over heat. Do not stop stirring until it is dissolved or it will sink to the bottom and scorch adding burnt flavors to your beer. 
•    Watch out for boil overs. You will have to stay by the stove the whole time or you will end up with malt all over the stove. 
•    Cool this to room temperature in cold water in the sink or a bucket. Leave the foil on until it is cooled. 
•    Sanitize liquid yeast container. Take off lid, or cut corner of Wyeast pack. Add yeast to flask and cover with aluminium foil.
•    Shake for 1 minute to add some oxygen, or add Oxygen directly using the following products Oxygen cylinder, Oxygen Regulator, Aeration Kit, and leave to ferment at about 20 deg C.
•    When adding yeast to a starter make sure both are close to the same temperature to avoid shocking the yeast. Put the starter solution and yeast sample on the bench to both warm to room temperature before mixing.
•    A Magnetic Stirrer, while not essential definitely speeds things along:
•    After 12 – 24 hours there will be lots of movement through the airlock and lots of foam on the surface. Pitch the starter into your freshly prepared wort. 
•    The fermentation will start off quickly and strongly. It’s a great idea to agitate your fermenter or add oxygen to your wort at the start of fermentation too. 

Thanks to our great Liquid Yeast suppliers Wyeast and White Labs for their help in providing this information. It’s worth checking out both of their websites: