My First Yeast Starter

…is not going as planned.

Because of the high gravity of my next planned batch (a Belgian Quadruple), the recipe nearly demands a starter. I’ve not used liquid yeast to this point, and definitely never made a starter. So the sheet and suggestions provided by my local brew supply shop were very well-received. But despite this, things just don’t seem right.

The instructions provided to me come from “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.”, and say to combine a cup of dried malt extract (DME), 1/4 tsp. of yeast nutrient and 4 cups of water, then to boil for 20 minutes. It then calls for a rapid cool in an ice-bath, before pitching the liquid yeast. All of that went off perfectly, without issue or complaint.

Except, wow, most of the liquid is gone – boiled away. And after a day of waiting, nothing is going on in the jar. So I got online and started searching. Seems a number of people have asked about ferments that seem “still” after pitching a starter. To these questions most just say, “Don’t worry, be patient.” But that is not exactly my problem. It’s the starter itself that seems inactive. So after weeding through a number of posts, I finally found one that seemed to touch on my problem. And seeing as it was discussing the same “4 cups of water” measurement, maybe it came from a similar source…

What it seems is that even with just 4 cups of water to 1 cup of DME, the SG comes to 1.120 Рwhich is enough to shock the yeast this early on. They are suggesting more like 1/4 cup DME to 1 quart of water. In other words, four times more water to DME. The typical figure I keep hearing mentioned is 1.040 as a top SG on a starter. Basic reasoning is that you are trying to encourage them to multiply, not ferment.

Maybe I didn’t give enough time for the slap pack to really bulge out before adding the yeast to the high gravity starter solution. I didn’t really go by the “wait three hours” direction on the liquid yeast pack, since it seemed it wouldn’t apply if then using it in a starter. Maybe.

In any case, I think my first attempt to rectify will simply be to add more boiled water (after cooling of course). Hopefully that will reduce the SG enough for the yeast to get out of their funk. I’m unfortunately a little far from my supply shop to pick up another pack of yeast quickly. We’ll see after a little time with more water.

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One thought on “My First Yeast Starter

  1. Pingback: My First Yeast Starter, Part Deux | Akahige Wines, Meads and Sundry

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