Brew Files - Episode 49 - Starting Off Right

drew's picture


The Brew is Out There!  

We know that we need good yeast to make great beer and we need to treat them right. Somehow we've managed to go through 48 episodes of this show without talking methods of treating your yeast right. On this show, we'll walk through how we used to do things and why we changed and Denny will even challenge Drew to get uncomfortable!


Omega's Propper Starter -

MB Raine's Yeast Principles Guide -

Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner -

Drew's Pressure Canned Starter Wort -

This episode is brought to you by: 

American Homebrewers Association

Brewers Publications

Atlantic Brew Supply (Discount Code: BrewFiles)

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Pilamman's picture
But how?

I listened to the podcast twice and never heard how to make a starter. We heard not to worry about cell counts or volumes, cuz close enough is good enough, and Drew mentioning that big beers need bigger starters. Care to expand upon these? I use the 10% rule (metric is really handy here) to make my starters, e.g., 200g DME dissolved in 2L of water. I do use a yeast calculator, but I’m also an analytical scientist, so that’s in my DNA. 

Regarding Erlenmeyer flasks, those available on Amazon are usually lesser quality than laboratory grade, thinner glass, and may (probably) contain air bubbles. The bubbles especially contribute to thermal instability in these. Two things to consider with these. One may wish to place their flask in a large pot, so if it does break, it’s contained. But more importantly, heat it slowly. On my electric stove top I start at 2, and increase temp every 10 minutes or so until boiling. Once boiling I turn it down to low and slide the flask to the edge of the burner (glass top). It is true you need to keep an eye on them to prevent boil overs. Just be patient. 

I do want to try to pitch on top of a yeast cake with upcoming brews.  I assume I need to stir up the yeast after racking.  But I suppose I can’t dry hop in primary if I’m going to reuse the yeast cake, right? That makes re-using yeast from certain beers, like NEIPA, very difficult. 

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

drew's picture
Funnily enough, I'm fairly

Funnily enough, I'm fairly certain my bad experience with a flask was a proper corning pyrex flask that went kablooey on my gas stove top. 

I wish we did metric in this country - so much easier!

And, the traditional rule of thumb does say not to use a dry hopped yeast cake due to concerns about hop oils and other compounds interfering with yeast reproduction. I'd also wonder at the flavor carryover if you're using a very distinctively hoppy setup.

scotahlers's picture
Airlock for shaker?

Hey Drew and Denny,

I loved your episode on making starters. I was particularly interested in the shaker method; I too am always looking for more ways to simplify my brew day. I have just one question: after shaking do you use an airlock of just cap it off? Just capping it off scares me because of pressure build up as fermentation occures. 



drew's picture
Scott - not Denny, but I do

Scott - not Denny, but I do neither - I slap foil on top of my starter jug post pitching!

007 volume


I have been reading old AHA posts and Mark talks about a 1000 ml 007 starter and you are advocating a 500ml one... why the difference? I would much prefer using the smaller starter if it works as well. I assume it must or you wouldn’t be doing it!

denny's picture
if I said 500 ml, it was a

if I said 500 ml, it was a mistake.  I do 1000 ml....a qt. in a one gal. jug.  Sorry for the confusion.

Life begins at 60....1.060, that is!

How much to start with

Hi Guys

Totally new to brewing, and I may have missed it (listened to your podcast while driving).

While the message active yeast is better than many yeast was clear. How many yeast cells do you start with in your "short-term" (007) starters?



drew's picture
Pitch Rate

Hey, I don't think we ever stated, but at 1L (~1 quart), you should be looking some where around 200b cells, so close to 1m cells/ml pitch rate or so.

Hi, thanks for the quick

Hi, thanks for the quick reply.

Sorry if I'm asking obvious questions. But just so I don't make any silly mistakes ;-)

So if I make a 25L beer, you would use 500ml starter, started with one pack of yeast (100b cells at start)? At what starting gravity would you up the cell count? (or would you not bother?) 

If I were to do a lager, would you increase the cell count/starter volume?

Once again thanks