Author Topic: Making starter from grain.  (Read 890 times)

Online gmac

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Making starter from grain.
« on: July 12, 2011, 08:17:26 AM »
I don't have any DME on hand and I need to make a starter.  If I crush and mash 1.5 lbs of 2-row in a gallon of water for an hour at 150-155F and then strain out the "wort", is there any reason that won't make a reasonable starter?  I think 1 lb in 1 gal would give me a wort of 1.036 if I got 100% of the sugar.  Since I won't get 100%, I thought I'd just go a lb and a half.  I was just going to bring the water to temp, add the grain and adjust to hit my temp and then put it in the oven.

Any reason it has to be super clear?  I won't be vorlaufing, just pouring it into another pot through a strainer and then boiling for a few minutes to sterilize.  But, assuming I do a starter and then cold crash it and discard the liquid, what does it matter?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2011, 08:21:49 AM »
I don't think it would matter. As long as you are boiling. Go for it. I know a lot of people use the last little running from the mash to can for starters
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Offline nateo

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2011, 09:54:55 AM »
If you crash it with the yeast, the draff will get into the fermentor. I don't think it would be enough to cause a problem.

I vaguely remember an interview with Charlie Bamforth talking about wort clarity, and how the Germans are sure that your wort has to be crystal clear, but brewers in other countries prefer their wort cloudy. Something about nucleation sites I think, and the cloudiness helps the yeast health or activity. I wish I could remember more. But the take away is that everyone is convinced their way is the "right" way, and there are a lot of different ways of brewing good beer.
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2011, 10:49:53 AM »
You should be fine.  Two things you might want to consider would be doing a mini "brew in a bag" and checking your FG and diluting if necessary.  You really want to avoid any grain husk particles in your wort so mashing the grains in a grain back in your pot would probably do a better job of holding back husk pieces than just a strainer (unless your strainer is really fine).  Your pound and a half sounds like a good plan and once you've got your wort, you can measure the FG and add water if it's too high - better off shooting for too high than too low.
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2011, 10:51:17 AM »
It will work just fine. I wouldn't be too concerned with clarity. I usually collect the last couple liters of runnings from my mashes just for starters. I'll even add a bit more water to the mash if the runoff gravity is high enough. Then freeze it until I need it for a starter. I haven't had to buy DME in a while now.
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Online gmac

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2011, 11:11:47 AM »
Thanks all.  I've collected excess wort for starters in the past too but I don't have any in the freezer right now.  After reading your comments, I'm gonna mash up a couple pounds and then I can water it down to the right gravity (I'll need to make a couple starters soon so this way I'll be ready).  I broke my gallon jug that I was using for starters so now I'm doing 2 in 1.5L mason jars instead of a 3 L starter.  Not perfect but it seems to be working. 

My strainer is pretty fine mesh but if I can find a muslin bag, I'll use that too.  I know I don't have any hops bags but I may get lucky with that one. 

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2011, 11:27:41 AM »
In time of needing to brew, no DME but bags of grain, I have done this.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2011, 12:09:56 PM »
Instead of that, consider making 5 gallons of something with an OG around 1.035.  You'll be fine with one packet/vial/smack pack of yeast, generate plenty of yeast for your next batch, and have something low alcohol you can drink.

Just a thought.
Tom Schmidlin

Online gmac

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2011, 12:47:26 PM »
Instead of that, consider making 5 gallons of something with an OG around 1.035.  You'll be fine with one packet/vial/smack pack of yeast, generate plenty of yeast for your next batch, and have something low alcohol you can drink.

Just a thought.
That would be a great idea except that I've been asked to make a wit and I finally got the yeast.  I'd have to make Wit Lite and then make regular Wit.  Or would you call the first one "half wit"?

Offline jeffy

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2011, 12:52:00 PM »
Instead of that, consider making 5 gallons of something with an OG around 1.035.  You'll be fine with one packet/vial/smack pack of yeast, generate plenty of yeast for your next batch, and have something low alcohol you can drink.

Just a thought.
That would be a great idea except that I've been asked to make a wit and I finally got the yeast.  I'd have to make Wit Lite and then make regular Wit.  Or would you call the first one "half wit"?
I wonder what an all pils malt, fairly hoppy, wit-fermented beer would taste like?  It might be kinda fun, except that some wit yeasts tend to have a sour/tart note.  It could be a very refreshing, low-gravity summer ale.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2011, 01:26:01 PM »
Tubercle does it all the time.

 Line your strainer with a couple of layers cheese cloth or panty hose.
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Offline Will's Swill

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2011, 06:06:17 PM »
"Half-wit."  Love it.   :D

Oh, and I always make my starters from grain.  Mainly just so I don't have to keep DME around.  It does take longer, though...
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Offline tankdeer

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Re: Making starter from grain.
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2011, 11:45:34 AM »
I haven't bought DME in probably 4 years, and I don't plan to anytime soon. Instead I'll make 5 gallons of starter wort, and pressure can it all. That way I have fresh, sterile starter wort whenever I need it. I just pop a jar of it and pour it into my flask - no boiling necessary.

Your method will work just fine, but don't guess on amounts. Calc the amt of grain you need and take gravity readings. You don't want to accidentally make a 1.010, or a 1.060 starter
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