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Yeast Preparation & Yeast Starters

USING DRY YEAST- Most dry yeast will start the fermentation quickly without any preparation. It is important to use fresh yeast. To improve the chances of a good fermentation with dry yeast, the yeast can be rehydrated in a small amount of sterile water before adding to the beer. The water should be the same temperature as the fermentation temperature of the beer you are making. A yeast starter can be made with dry yeast (see below).

USING LIQUID YEAST- The most common form of liquid yeast available to home brewers is Wyeast, which comes in a foil packet. The packet contains instructions for popping the inner pouch to start the yeast growth. This is usually done the day before brewing, unless the Wyeast packet is more than a month old. For each month beyond one month, pop the package an additional day in advance of brewing, up to 4 days. Thus, if your packet is two months old, pop the yeast two days before brewing; if it is six months old, pop the yeast 4 days before brewing.


This is usually done the day before you brew. A yeast starter will start the fermentation of you beer more rapidly.

Equipment needed:

Starter vessel: quart size or larger jar (juice jars work well), a large beer bottle, or an Erlenmeyer flask

Stopper & Airlock*

Measuring cups, measuring spoons

Rubbing alcohol & cotton balls or swabs

 *If you do not have a stopper that fits your chosen starter vessel, you may cover the container with a clean cloth that has been sanitized: boil the cloth for 10 minutes, and then soak it in a sanitizing solution. If using cheesecloth, or other loosely woven cloth, use 2- 4 layers so dust and bacteria are effectively trapped.

The starter should be at least 2 cups in size. Before making the starter, if using liquid yeast, follow the instructions above for starting the yeast growth.

To make a starter medium, use malt extract, dried malt extract, or some unfermented wort from a previous batch. It is important to use malt based sugars, as other sugars do not have sufficient nutrients for healthy yeast growth. Add water to the extract or gyle- the best specific gravity range for making a yeast starter is between 1.030- 1.040. Here are some guidelines for making starters with organic malt extract:

HOPS (optional)
1 cup
1 Tablespoon
1/2 tsp.
1/2 tsp.
2 cups
2 Tablespoons
1 tsp.
1 tsp.
1 Quart
1/4 cup
1 Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon
(For larger volumes, adjust above quantities equally)

Boil the starter solution for 15- 20 minutes, allow to cool to 70 oF, and pour it into your sanitized yeast starter vessel. Add the yeast from the pouch, or the dry yeast. Shake well to add oxygen and cover or seal with an airlock. Add the starter to you unfermented beer as soon as it has cooled to 70 oF Before pouring the yeast from the starter container, swab the lip of the container with alcohol to kill bacteria living there. If you wish, you can save a small portion of the starter (1/4 cup is adequate) to reactivate for a later batch. The saved starter can be stored in the refrigerator with an airlock (a cloth cover is not recommended for long term storage!) on it for up to 1 month. To save your yeast for a longer period of time, make a new starter from the old one. When pitching stored yeast into your beer, you should also make a new starter.

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