So I have a confession to make. You’ve probably noticed I like to pretend I am an expert brewer. I am a giant nerd and regularly read everything I can find on brewing so its easy to talk the talk. But when it comes down to it you can know all you want but unless you can walk the walk, it really doesn’t mean anything.
One very basic thing I really should have done earlier in my brewing life is a yeast starter. Despite their relative ease, I just found the ease of dry yeast to be too tempting. Despite this, the allure of many different yeast options together with the option to overbuild starters (for harvesting purposes) was too strong. Also, considering I had just bought a stir plate it seems only reasonable that I would need to use it!
Recently I brewed a Samuel Adams Boston Lager Clone. Given Xmas was just around the corner it seemed like a great beer to be sipping on during those warm (hopefully dry) summer days. To get that crisp lager taste I wanted to try Wyeast’s Bohemian Lager (#2124).
I wanted to make a 3L yeast starter but quickly ran into problems. My first problem was that I didn’t have a pot big enough! Seems an obvious issue but I’ve always been a little special. Another problem I have is I have an induction stovetop so there is no chance of heating the erlenmeyer flask direct.
Accepting that I would need to do a couple of boils I had to first test how much water would evaporate during the 10 minute boil. I tried a 1.2 L boil and low and behold, it was the perfect evaporation rate.
Heating up 1.2 L of water, I then added 100g of DME. After the 10 min boil, I placed it in an ice bath and stirred until cool. The next problem I encountered was my inability to transfer to the flask! To say there was spillage was a bit of an understatement. In the end I ended up with 2.5L instead of my 3 but I wasn’t too worried.
Adding the yeast, I placed it on the yeast starter and set it going. After 48 hours it was ready to cold crash. Once crashed, I decanted off the yeast and wallah, a large amount of yeast!
So how was fermentation? Fermentation started strong after about 18 hours and kicked on strong until finished. My lager fermented out lower than I expected (3 points) which I am unsure whether is normal for the strain. Tasting the beer, I had no diacetyl or off flavours so considered it a win.
I will need to make a few tweaks to make my yeast starter process easier but other than that, the process was relatively easy and led to great results. Next I’ll look at building a larger yeast starter so I can start reusing yeast. That’s the great thing about this hobby, there is always one more thing to learn!
If you have any questions on yeast starters or anything else please feel free to leave them below.