How to, New Brewer, Propagation, Tim, Yeast Health, Yeast Starter -

Yeast... A brewers best friend

Hello brewers! Tim here, (the red-headed guy at Brewmeister) just wanted to share my 2 cents worth, well actually a very important tip for the homebrewer of any skill level: Brewers make Wort, Yeast make Beer! Beginning homebrewers often make the mistake of getting caught up in the ingredients and brewing process, when what happens in the fermenter is really the most important part of brewing.

I only discovered this years after I started brewing and began making yeast starters. Its the one thing I did that took my beers to a new level of flavor and consistency. A starter will get that yeast going so when you dump it into the wort (you just spent hours to make) you will know that the yeast will be ready to turn that wort into beer free of any off-flavors. Almost every off-flavor I’ve encountered has been due to not enough or unhealthy yeast. Another benefit… the faster that yeast ferments, the sooner you get to drink the beer!

Making a starter is easy, basically your just brewing a mini batch of beer to get the dormant yeast munching away on a light meal before you introduce it to your much stronger wort. You can also use a starter to build up your cell count for a bigger and/or stronger batch of beer. Here's what to do:

- Weigh out about 3.5 oz of dried malt extract (DME)

- Dissolve the DME in 1 Quart or 1 Liter of water and boil for about 10 min

- Cool down to about 75 F and pour the wort into a sanitized container (a flask or mason jar works great) I like to use a clear glass container to see the activity

- Sanitize your yeast pouch, scissors, and funnel, cut open the yeast and dump it in your wort, cover the container with a bit of aluminum foil

- Let the starter sit at room temp for 12-24 hours, during that time you should see activity like you would in a carboy of fermenting beer then you have a couple options: you can brew your batch and add your starter when you would normally pitch your yeast, or build it up more by repeating the above process.

- You will see the yeast settle to the bottom once the starter is done, if your using a stir plate, the idea is to keep the yeast in suspension so you can pitch the whole thing into your beer. But you can also pour off the fermented wort and just pitch the yeast layer at the bottom. I usually don't decant the wort unless I don't end up brewing until a few days after I make the starter or I'm building the yeast up for a bigger beer. If that's the case, I'll make another batch of wort (usually a bit stronger than the first by using more DME) and add that to the nice yeast layer at the bottom.

That's pretty much the basics to get your yeast going, starters work with dry and liquid yeasts as well as harvested yeast from a previous batch but that's a whole other topic. Bottom line is that healthy yeast is the key ingredient to a great beer. 

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