How to Make a Yeast Starter
This may be a common occurrence for many brewers but this is a first for me. I am tying to brew an English Barleywine for my winter beer and if my calculations are correct, it should finish somewhere between 10.5-11.5% ABV. This made me think I may want to create a yeast starter to ensure I have enough yeast cells to finish the fermentation and get to that ABV.
Like just about everything else I have done so far in this venture, I researched a lot. There are plenty of sites to use for this (check out my earlier post on my brewing toolkit) and they all had similar advice. I decided to use a few of them in combination.
I do not have a erlermeyer flask, oxygen bubbler, or a magnetic stir plate. I do have a kitchen stove, a 1/2-gallon growler, and just about everything else you may need. Below is the ingredients and equipment list I used to make a 1 L starter:
- 6 oz Dried Malt Extract (DME)
- 1/2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1 L water
- 1/2-gallon growler
- 2 L pot
- Airlock and #6.5 Stopper (this is smaller than a normal carboy stopper to fit the growler)
- Measuring equipment
1.Fill pint glass with beer and take a sip (repeat this step as necessary)
2. Sanitize growler, stopper, airlock, and funnel
3. Measure out and weigh 1/2 tsp of the yeast nutrient and 6 oz DME
4. Bring water to a boil in pot. Once boiling, add DME and yeast nutrient and return to boil
5. Boil for 20 minutes (watch for boil overs)
6. Remove from heat and transfer to the growler using funnel after the 20 minutes is over
7. Chill growler to approximately 70°F (or whatever temperature you intend to ferment the beer at)
8. Aerate and pitch the yeast
From there, keep an eye on the fermentation in a dark room for about 18-36 hours (or cover it with something that keeps light out) and swirl it around as you can. I did read some advice to swirl it every hour but unfortunately I have more than just brewing to do so I do it as I can. Adding oxygen here is OK because you are not worried about how this beer is going to taste and are mostly worried about giving the yeast the best environment possible to create more yeast cells. I will be sure to update everyone on the fermentation as I brew the English Barleywine and what the beer ends up tasting like as well.