A yeast starter is a MUST DO for practically any mead recipe. Regardless if you have a dry yeast or a yeast in a tube, such as the Wyeast packages – a good starter is the key to a good fermentation.
A starter is made like this:
- Plan the starter a good day before you start the brewing itself. This gives the yeast time to really get going.
- Clean and sanitize everything you will be working with; the flask, the airlock, the stopper; EVERYTHING.
I often use a laboratory flask as its flat on the bottom and can easily be put on a heater to get the water up to sufficient temperature, and it’s easy to work with if you have a magnet stirrer.
As you will be working with only one container, and it has a neck, thus reducing the area where air and bacteria can enter, this reduces the risk of infection.
a 1000ml flask is enough for most homebrewers. We at Viking-mjod use this size for nearly any batch, and it hasn’t failed us yet.
- Start with 2 dl of water and 30 grams of honey. Dissolve this.
Add a pinch of yeast nutrient and energizer and let this dissolve in the mix. Nutrients are critical to yeast health. Honey has fairly little in terms of real nutrients, so don’t skip this step. DO NOT mistake raisins for nutrients… it’s an urban legend.
- Heat this mixture to around 80 degrees Celcius and let it stay there for 20 minutes. Cool down to around 18-20 degrees Celsius. cover the flask opening with tin foil or similar.
- Pitch your yeast straight into the bottle. If you have a magnet stirrer, put the starter on it, and let the stirrer go to work. Over the next day, the yeast will start working. You can acclimatize the yeast to its upcoming environment ( the must) by adding honey to such an extent, that the SG become fairly close to that which your must will start at.
Keep temperature to within 5 degrees Celcius of what the must will have, as we will want to avoid shocking the yeast when its pitched into the must.
Feed your starter air by swirling the starter around – several times per day, or by using an aerator pump with a 5my stone.
- After a day or 2, you have fed the starter more water and more honey, and it should now be ready for your must.