Monday, January 17, 2011

Yeast Starters

The strain of yeast used in a beer makes a huge difference in the flavor.  To make sure my strain of yeast is the winner in my wort, I like to use a yeast starter.  The idea is that I add more living cells of the recipe's yeast strain than may incidentally be in my newly sterile wort and I get to "proof" the yeast, ensuring its viable for fermentation.  You're making a tiny little batch of wort with no hops that you pitch into your wort on brew day with a gravity about 1.040-1.060.

AJ's Yeast Starter Recipe v2.1
(add to five gallons of wort)
  • 1 pint drinkable water
  • ½ cup Dried Malt Extract (DME) — I prefer Light DME.
  • ¼ teaspoon yeast nutrient
  1. Combine and boil all ingredients for about 10 minutes.
  2. Cool quickly to optimum temperature for your yeast strain.
  3. If using dry yeast, rehydrate room-temperature yeast for 20 minutes in a small amount of boiled and cooled water. Do not use wort for this step!
  4. Add ingredients and yeast to a sanitized container and shake to aerate.
  5. Install a sanitized airlock/foam stopper (or cover container top with aluminum foil)
  6. Place in a warm, dark place for about three days, swirling the contents every time you think about it.
The educated reader may accuse me of overpitching the yeast (adding so much yeast that it finishes off the sugars before completing fermentation cycles) but I've not had that problem ... so far.

Here's some additional links on yeast starters:

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