How to make an all grain yeast starter

How to

I pretty much always create a yeast starter a few days before I brew. My usual process involves freezing some wort from a previous brew day then when I need to make a starter I just need to boil it and I’m good to go. If I don’t have any frozen wort I’ll make some up using some dry malt extract. But what happens when you’ve also run out of DME?

I live in the bush so when I run out of something a quick trip to the shop to get some more is not always an option. My only real option (other than “don’t brew tomorrow” - not an option if you ask me) was to make a starter using grain. I’ve never tried this and I was kind of making it up as I went along, but it appears to have worked!

I milled 400g of pale malt and added it to 1.2 litres of 74°C water.


After giving it a good stir to make sure there were no dough balls. I popped a lid on and allowed to rest at 65°C for 40 minutes. A couple of times during the mash I had to add a little hot water to maintain the temperature.

While the mash was resting I heated another 1.2 litres of water in a separate pot to 76°C to use as sparge water.


When the mash was finished I used a sieve to separate the grain from the liquid and slowly rinsed the grain with my sparge water. This whole process would have been made much easier if I had used a muslin bag. But unfortunately I used my last one the other day when making apricot jam...

After sparging I boiled the wort for 20 minutes to pasteurise it, then placed it in an ice bath to chill to pitching temp (20°C).


Using a funnel I poured the wort into a sanitised erlenmeyer flask being careful to pour slowly and leave the break material in the pot. I pitched the yeast and switched on the stir plate and the job was done.

This method will certainly work for you in a pinch, but I think from now on I will always make sure there is some DME in the house.

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