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Maltophonic - How To Make A Yeast Starter

How To – Make a Yeast Starter

Ahhh. The big question. Should I make a yeast starter? Yes! Of course you should! In order to understand why, we first need to go back to the basics. Grab a beer, sit down, and relax. You’re about to learn how to take your beer to the next level by using a yeast starter.

What is a yeast starter? It’s basically a mini, unhopped beer that is fermented with oxygen exposure for the purpose of making healthy, happy yeast, and more of it.

Have you ever tasted hopped wort at the end of the boil? It generally tastes pretty awful – both sweet and bitter at the same time. Have you ever tasted beer? Of course you have! What does this have to do with why you should make a yeast starter? Yeast is the single ingredient responsible for the remarkable flavor change from nasty hopped wort to delicious beer. Don’t get me wrong, some hopped wort does taste pretty good, and unhopped wort is generally awesome, but this means three very important things for beer brewing:

  • Yeast is the single most important ingredient in beer
  • Taking care of your yeast should be at the top of your priority list (yes, above switching to kegging your beer)
  • Using a yeast starter = great beer. Great beer = happy you. By the transitive property of equality, using a yeast starter = happy you!

What does yeast do during fermentation? Yeast eats sugars in your wort and gives off:

  • Flavor (known as esters)
  • Alcohol
  • CO2

Note that I put flavor at the top of the list. Most home brewers will say Keep reading…

Maltophonic - How To Keg Your Beer

How To – Keg Your Beer

We have a very important topic on our hands – how to put your batch of home brew into a keg. Kegging is a beautiful thing indeed. If you are a hop-head like me, kegging is the only way to go!

Benefits of Kegging

  • Freshness – those 2-3 weeks that would normally be spent waiting for bottle conditioned beer to carbonate are the same 2-3 weeks that your precious and volatile hop aromas and flavors are oxidizing and dropping off. Yikes! You don’t want that when you spent nearly as much money on hops as you did on the rest of the ingredients for the batch. Cold storage means you get to slow down the process of hop flavors and aromas dropping off – long live the hops!
  • Speed – it only takes about 2-3 days to carbonate a batch of beer in a keg.
  • Beer on draft makes your domain perfect for entertaining – to those who don’t brew (and arguably to those who do brew too), beer coming out of a polished stainless steel faucet in a seemingly endless supply is a majestic thing – especially when you made the beer.
  • No yeast required – whether you’re carbonating cider or beer, you can take your mind off “is there enough yeast in suspension still to carbonate my batch?” – in a pressurized keg, liquids have no choice but to take on the CO2 that you push into the headspace of the keg, provided that there’s enough room for the CO2 to dissolve into solution. Don’t worry, this is only an issue in things that are excessively sweet. Like, ridiculously sweet.
  • Process is a key component to mastering a great double IPA, and in my personal experience, kegging is mandatory in doing so.
  • Did I mention speed? If you’re trying to perfect your own recipes, kegging allows you to spend more time worrying about improvements for the next batch.

Before we get started, let me start by telling you Keep reading…

Clone Recipe - Goose Island - Halia

Clone Recipe – Goose Island – Halia

I frequent the Whole Foods that had this beer. Over the course of about 2 weeks prior to a bottle share that I hosted, I was at Whole Foods about 5 times getting groceries and looking for rare new beer releases. Each time I was there, I went to the beer section, stopped in front of Goose Island’s Halia, looked at the $23.99 price tag, read the description on the bottle, and felt the internal struggle. The bottle read “Tart wild ale fermented in wine barrels on fresh white peaches, with bright tropical aromas and a dry finish.” The last trip to Whole Foods that I made before the bottle share, I couldn’t hold back; I bought a bottle.

I love a sour golden ale. I love peaches. I love wine. I love a beer on oak. I love a beer on brettanomyces. How could I not buy this beer? My justification for doing so was my usual justification: if I like this beer, I will take careful tasting notes and try to clone it.

Did the $24 risk pay off? Oh yeah it did! To this day, this is the most intriguing, refined, delicious beer I have ever tasted. Keep reading…