I like using a starter because it seems like it cuts down on the fermentation time, but do I really need to do it for beers that are under 1.070 OG?
I recommend making a yeast starter for every beer you use liquid yeast for (I have little experience with dry yeast because I stopped using it after my first few batches). You don't need a starter all the time, but it's on my list of best practices.
You will almost always see better fermentation if you use a starter. It will start faster (which helps a ton to prevent the bad bugs from getting at your wort before the yeast get into full swing), and you'll be certain that you have healthy yeast to make a beautiful-tasting beer.
Even if you forget to make a starter well before you brew (1-3 days), you will benefit from making a small starter on the morning of your brew day just to ensure you've got some healthy yeast and so your fermentation kicks off quicker.
The Lazy Brewer's Guide to a Simple Starter (assuming you know how to make a starter and you want to be a little lazy or forgot to make one before brew day).
- Add 1/2 cup of Dry Malt Extract (DME) for every 500 ml of starter you are making. e.g. for a 1000 ml starter, add 1 cup of DME. For a 2000 ml starter, add 2 cups. Simple.
- I measure water with my Erlenmeyer Flask at the size of the starter--the boil off + DME volume tends to even it out pretty much perfectly on a little below medium heat on my stove. So, for a 1000 ml starter I use 1000 ml of water. Simple.
- Boil for 10 minutes. It should be vigorous enough that the wort turns over, but shouldn't be making liquid jump off the surface.
- Cool the wort in your flask or starter vessel with foil on top (sanitizes the foil if you don't have a spray bottle of Star San or equivalent on hand... and keeps bad bugs out).
- Shake it up, add your yeast. Shake it up whenever you think about it.
- Add it to your cooled wort after brewing.
The number of steps makes it sound like a pain, but I probably spend 5 minutes of effort on any of my starters and it makes my beer better.Tweet