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June 2017
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“Yeast Starter’s”

I was thumbing through some forums latley. I read about a person that had pitched a vial of yeast into 19L of wort. Yes after 72 hours he did not see activity in the airlock. So I asked him if he preformed the usual things like Aerate, did he make a starter, and the temp of the wort when he pitched the yeast. The only thing he did not do was make a starter. One would think that after 72 hours there should be a little activity, So I asked him to do two things, 1. check the expiration date on the vial, and 2. Take a gravity reading. The vial was only about a month out of date. And he told me he got it on sale (Clue!). The gravity reading had come down about .008.

So I explained to him the reason why he should have made a starter, and that there probably was viable yeast, just not very many. The simple explanation for why you need a yeast starter, is this: The more viable yeast cells you start with the less lag time before your wort turns into beer. There are very technical reasons for this also, and don’t get me wrong. Good Yeast Management is vital to Good Beer! Its just the simple answer, nothing more.

For Me, I usually brew on a Sunday, so I make a yeast starter on Thursday evening when I get home from work. It is very simple to do and only takes a small amount of time. The process I follow is 4.oz of Extra Light Malt Extract and 2 quarts of water. Boil for 20 min then cool the mini wort down to pitching temp, aerate, add the yeast. Sometime I will add .2oz of the same hops that I plan on using in the beer if the starter needs to wait for more than a week. But only then. It is usually ready within two days as long as the yeast was alive. Once I am ready to pitch the yeast, I pour in the starter that has been going for two-three days and I usually have a vigorous fermentation within 4-6 hours.