Friday, July 13, 2012

Yeast Starters

By now every homebrewer should be doing yeast starters for their wort.  It is the single best addition to a brewday.  Well maybe besides a controlled fermentation.  Lately, I've been using 2 row instead of the normal DME or Liquid Malt Extract that most brewers use.  The reason?  Its cheap.  About .80 per pound around here.  Using 2 to 4 pounds and creating a small mash, I'll end up with about 10 quart sized ziplock bags full plus my 2, 2000ml flasks.  The bags are frozen and pulled the day before I need a starter.  Once melted, a quick boil brings sanitizes them for my yeast.  (I always add yeast nutrient to the starters for an extra kick.)

Normally this procedure is done on brew day after my mash.  Jeff recommended that I just bump up the recipe and sparge right into a flask, which is a great idea.  (Seems so simple, but I'm a little upset that I didn't think of it.)

Last night I opened the fridge and I was out of wort bags, knowing that I am brewing this weekend I grabbed the extra 3 pounds of 2-Row I have as back up downstairs, my brew pot and headed upstairs.

Is my oven small or my brew pot big?

I did some quick calculations on Beersmith and added my water to get me right about 1.030 wort.  I then brought the water temp up to 153 and added the 3 pounds of grain.

Set the timer for 60 mins and let the conversion begin.  After a quick no rinse sparge, I brought the wort up for a quick 15 min boil.  I ended up with this..

2, 2000ml flasks and one 1000ml flask full of wort.  I didn't have any other vessels open for cooling so I tossed a lot more wort than I should of.  Better planning next time I guess.  

The final result, Frozen

The wort was then (once cool) placed into quart sized ziplock bags and put in the freezer.  This was the result in the morning.  (above)  The rest was used to create 2 starters for this weekend.  Total cost for everything?  Under $3.00

Big Starter next to my 20 oz Hess glass


  1. This is a great idea, and I'm surprised I just came across this post. Ive thought about using 2row for starters, especially if I need to make a massive starter, but never thought of freezing it in ziplock bags. It seems so simple. Are you still doing this?

    1. Ed,

      Yes I still do this. Sometimes on brewday I will also ramp up a recipe to 7 gallons and take a gallon off before adding the 60 min bitting hops and freeze that. I make big starters for each batch and I am on my same 3# of DME since I started doing this.

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