Big Beers Need Big Yeast!

I have started dabbling in bigger beers. Most recently an imperial stout which will be the makings of this year’s Merry Cherry Christmas Stout. But, big beers need big amounts of healthy viable yeast. The answer? A yeast starter!
(Yeast Starter Kit)
A yeast starter kit is basically just a glass flask and a foam stopper. What you do is make a very small batch of unhopped wort using water and dry malt extract (yeast food!). Then just pitch your yeast into this and give it a few days. The yeast eat and reproduce in a happy healthy environment. Then just pitch it into your fermenter on brew day. But what is the point?
Yeast starters have several purposes. First is that it increases the amount of yeast cells for pitching into your brew. A yeast starter can take a 100 billion cell packet of yeast and turn that into hundreds and hundreds of billions of viable yeast cells.
This is important for several reasons. Higher pitch rates make better beers because under pitching causes stress on the yeast. Too much work for a small amount of yeast cells causes this stress, I think we can all relate. When yeast get stressed they can produce an off flavor and aroma.
Higher pitch rates of healthy viable yeast also increases the tolerance for higher concentration of alcohol. That is pretty important for making higher gravity beers. In line with this is that lower amounts of yeast may cause the yeast to ferment slowly or incompletely. Basically if you want a big beer, you will need big strong healthy yeast and lots of em!
(Yeast Starter in Action)
Another reason to use a yeast starter kit is that it reduces the lag in growth of the yeast. The sooner actual fermentation of your beer starts the less likely it is to be contaminated. Eliminating any lag lowers the chance of contamination. A healthy beer is a happy beer!
Yeast starter kits can be purchased at any homebrew store for around 20-30 bucks, depending on what size you want. They also have stir plates that you can purchase for these, but they are kind of spendy. According to the directions I received with mine you can just give it a good swirl every time you walk by and you should be fine. Also, feel free to throw in a drop of FermCap-S to eliminate any chance of over foaming.
On a quick side note, Beerploma was nominated for Best Beer Blog in the Growler’s Kind-of-a-Big-Deal awards. Thanks to those who nominated us! If you like what you read here, please take a second to go to  and vote for for best beer blog.