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Starting a Yeast Culture
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Bottled Yeast StarterHow & Why Start a Yeast Culture?

Although many yeasts are "pitchable" off the shelf or after a brief hydration period, we recommend going one step further.

Preparing a yeast "starter" in advance of brewing provides several advantages that make the process well worthwhile. An "active" and bountiful yeast starter will help initiate alcohol conversion quickly and efficiently, reduce the risk of infection and ensure a timely and thorough fermentation. And, these are all good things.

It is especially important to start a yeast culture when brewing a more robust recipe with a higher target alcohol by volume level, as with an IPA, a Belgian, or a strong stout.

 
Video Demonstration
 
 
Megan's Video Introduction
 
 

"Starting a Yeast Culture"

 
 

Watch either:
QuickTime | WMV

 
Ingrediants for a yeast starter
Ingredients for a quality
1/2-gallon starter

There are two reliable ways to acomplish this, described below.

Equipment Checklist:

- Clean glass bottle / jug (a growler works great)
- Bottle stopper
- Airlock
- 1/2 gallon spring water
- dry packaged brewing yeast or liquid yeast culture
- Funnel
- Medium-sized sauce pan
- 1/2 lb dry malt extract

As with all brewing procedures, it is crucial to maintain very sanitary conditions when handling yeast and all starting wort and equipment.

Extract Starter Method (Intermediate Level):

  1. Remove your vial yeast from refrigeration 2-3 days before brew day. It will come to room temperature in about 3 hours, so you have some time to prepare the sample wort and cool it after removing it.
  2. Pour a little less than 2 quarts of spring water into a medium-sized sauce pan. Place on high heat
  3. Add appx. 1/3 - 1/2 lb. of dry malt extract (spray malt) -or- several heaping tablespoons of liquid malt extract (until you see a color that approximates your target wort color). You may even want to add a pellet or two of the hops you will use later in the recipe.
  4. Boil this wort for 10-15 min. Reduce temperature (in an ice bath or other cool medium) and pour it (slowly) into a sterile 1/2-gallon jug (using a sterile funnel).Cap this with a stopper and airlock to maintain optimal conditions.
  5. Reduce and monitor temperature (running cold water against the jug) until it reaches 72°-74° F.
  6. Aerate this wort and add the room-temperature yeast.
  7. Mix and maintain temperature above 70° until it is added to the finished wort the next day. You may need to shake it occasionally to keep the yeast suspended.
All-Grain Starter Method (Advanced):
  1. Remove your yeast from refrigeration before beginning your mash on brew day.
  2. Draw off some wort during the sparging process (maybe a quart) and place in a medium-sized sauce pan. Check the gravity of this liqid and dilute to 1.020 - 1.030, if necessary. You'll need about 1.75 quarts total.
  3. Boil this wort for 10-15 min. Reduce temperature (let it sit for 45 min. covered) and pour it (slowly) into a sterile 1/2-gallon jug (using a sterile funnel). Cap this with a stopper and airlock to maintain optimal conditions.
  4. Reduce and monitor temperature (running cold water against the jug) until it reaches 72°-74° F.
  5. Aerate this wort and add the room-temperature yeast.
  6. Mix and maintain temperature above 70° until it is added to the finished wort.
Saucepan with Wort
After boiling and resting your starter wort, slowly pour it into your glass starter bottle, leaving the dregs behind.
 
Cooling the starter wort
Using cold water to reduce
the temperature of the wort.

Move on to the next step in the brewing process: Cracking the Grain   Next Step!

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