View Full Version : making a starter

01-30-2008, 03:23 AM
I am going to start a batch of mead soon, and I'm considering using a yeast starter. I made one batch before and it turned out ok, but I have learned a fair amount since then, and I want to try a starter.

I read in "the compleat meadmaker" about making a yeast starter, and my question is about equipment. I have a 1L flask with a stopper and airlock that I use for my beer starters, but if I follow the instructions in the book I'll need a larger container. I have a clean 2L soda bottle that will work, but i don't know what to do about an airlock. Should I use the 1L flask and cut the starter recipe in half? or should I use the soda bottle, and if so, how do i set up an airlock for it?


01-30-2008, 06:18 PM

There are certain special cases (such as working with a vial of liquid yeast, or pitching into a very high SG must, or trying to use a small amount of dry yeast in a very large main batch) where a starter can help, but to be perfectly honest the proper rehydration of active dry yeast and attemperation to match the temperature of the rehydrated yeast to the main batch of must is all you really need to do in order to get a fine fermentation going. Starters are a lot of extra work, for very little extra benefit.

That's my opinion based on my experience, but I've not seen convincing evidence otherwise.

01-30-2008, 06:32 PM
I'll be working from a vial in this case. I've made starters for high gravity worts such as barley wines in the past, so I am familiar with the making. I'm basically just wondering what equipment others are using when they make starters...


richard lambert
01-30-2008, 06:45 PM
Nate from all the advise here on got mead and several meads under my belt, it seem easier just to use two packages of dry yeast actived correctly than making a starter( for 5 gallons).Even more important is to follow the nutritional need of the yeast and areation till the lag stage . Check out some of Osskars blogs on technique. Richard

01-30-2008, 07:15 PM
Ahh, since you're working from a vial I can see why you want to do a starter. When I do one, I like to take it through a couple of growth and acclimation stages before pitching, with the initial volume around a liter and then with a couple of additions of the main must to get the yeast used to their soon to be new home. So I most often pitch into a one liter erlenmeyer flask that's about 2/3 full with a starter solution set at around SG 1.050-1.060. I airlock it and once I get signs of active fermentation in the starter medium, I will pour that into a half-gallon jug to which I've already added about 1/2 liter of the main must, along with a small dose of Fermaid-K. I splash it around thoroughly to aerate the new medium before pouring in the existing starter. After signs of renewed fermentation, I add one further addition of main must, aerate and get that going -- then it's into the main batch. So a half-gallon, or 2-liter, container is what I use, that ends up being about 2/3 full at main pitch. I think that's a good starter volume for a 5 gallon main batch.

I wouldn't bother with a lock on your 2-liter bottle. Just cover the top with a sanitized, tightly woven cloth, which will keep out any foreign organisms while your yeast are developing. You can hold the cloth in place over the top with a rubber band.

02-01-2008, 09:55 PM
I've used one gallon carboys as the container for starters. Excessive headspace shouldn't be an issue as at this point actively oxygenating seems desireable thus a bit of air in the container is no concern. The batches I've started with starters seem to have ended at lower gravities than those with just rehydrated yeast pitched in (go ferm used as rehydration nutrient for both pitch into starter and pitch into full batch). I'd guess I've got less than 100 gallons fermented thusfar, so my observations shouldn't carry the weight of the "long beards" of the group. I might be doing something less than optimal in my no starter batches.

02-01-2008, 10:22 PM
Great responses! Thanks for the information all!


02-02-2008, 01:10 AM
For beer starters, I've heard some folks advocate pouring off the wort from atop your starter's yeast slurry before pitching the starter into the main batch. Is this necessary for mead as well?

02-02-2008, 12:06 PM
Nope. In fact there are lots of active yeast cells in suspension in that bit of must -- I pour it all in.