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August 10, 2017

How to Make a Yeast Starter

How to make a yeast starter

Knowing how to make a yeast starter is important because it tests and even improves the health and viability of yeast. And yeast plays an extremely important role in the beer making process. In fact, it is yeast that is responsible for eating up the sugar in wort and turning it into alcohol during the fermentation process. So, if something goes wrong with your yeast and they don't grow, you're going to have a hard time calling what you made "beer" because it won't be boozy!

Because yeast is so critical to the beer-making process, making sure your sample is healthy and viable should be a top priority. This tutorial covers the basics of making a yeast starter, which will improve fermentation. For more info on why it's important to make a yeast starter, head on over to our "Why Make a Yeast Starter." For the nuts and bolts on how to do it, read below.

Easy Yeast Starter

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Suggested Equipment

Yeast Starter

First, you'll need to gather up a few items before beginning the yeast starter. Here's the ideal setup for completing this project. Any decent homebrewer should have at least some and maybe even most of these items. If you're into making beer and aren't geared up for making starters, consider investing in some new equipment because making yeast starters will definitely increase the quality of your homebrew.

  • Gas burner or an electric hotplate
  • Sauce pan (optional)*
  • Scientific flask
  • Small funnel
  • Sponge stopper
  • Scale (and dish for weighing)
  • Magnetic stir plate
  • Magnetic stir bar

*The bottleneck of flasks greatly increases the risk of boil over. This potential is compounded on electric burners which cycle intense heat on and off. If you're worried about boil over, use a sauce pan to boil the ingredients and then transfer into a sanitized flask after.

Ingredients

You'll also need a few ingredients to get the starter going. We're assuming that you're making a starter from a store-bought yeast packet. However, harvested yeast can be used as well. Follow the same process. Also, dry malt extract can be purchased at any decent homebrew shop. Here are the necessary items.

  • 1 package of liquid yeast
  • 100 grams dry malt extract (DME)
  • 1200 ml Water

Process

Once all of the equipment and ingredients have been gathered, simply follow the steps below to make a yeast starter.

  1. Add 1200 ml of water and the stir bar to the flask.
  2. Weigh and add 100 grams of DME to the flask.
  3. Apply gentle heat and bring to a boil (stir occasionally).
  4. Boil for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove heat and cover opening with foil (unlike us) and submerge flask in ice bath to cool.
  6. Add 1 package of liquid yeast to cooled wort.
  7. Transfer flask to magnetic stir plate and allow to sit for 24-48 hours.

Once the yeast starter is complete, pitch directly into cooled wort or transfer to a refrigerator for use at a later date. Making a yeast starter can double and even triple the amount of active yeast in a yeast packet, so it's always a great idea. After all - no yeast, no alcohol!

  • I forgot to mention that I used no other yeast product. So if I was making it for a distilled spirit I would still use no other yeast product. Does that sound doable?

    Posted by Sister Janet on December 05, 2017
  • I have made a starter for bread using organic grapes and water. I am wondering if one could make a stater for wine/beer/spirits from the same. Does anyone have an opinion? I got my starter recipe from Nancy Silverton’s Book on La Brea Bread Baking book.

    Posted by Sister Janet on December 05, 2017
  • You sure can brutha! I do it a lil different but same concept. As the wort is cooling I take a liter and put it in a separate jar. Once it is cooler (120-80°f) heat up 100ml of purified water to 120°f. Mix in 5-7g of GOFerm. Once that has mixed and dropped to 104°f put your yeast in (I use 10g of yeast). Let the yeast rehydrate for 20-25mins then put in 500ml of your wash. It is very important however to make sure there is less than an 18°f difference between yeast starter and wash when mixing them. After a couple hours I pitch the starter I just made into my main batch making sure they are within 18°f of each other.

    Posted by Drunk on October 26, 2017
  • First at all, thanks for all the help that we can find on this site very useful and hopefully would buy destiller cooper on the future….. I have a question? Can I make starter yeast with dry active yeast instead of using liquid yeast? Thanks

    Posted by ricardo on August 14, 2017

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