Named for German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer, homebrewers use Erlenmeyer Flasks for making yeast starters. Erlenmeyer flasks are recognizable by their conical shape, with most displaying volume markers. They have a broad base that narrows at the top to a short neck with a beaded lip and various size openings that accommodate stoppers and bungs.
Making a yeast starter is essential for proper pitching rates and reducing lag time when fermentation begins (this greatly minimizes the chances of bacterial infection in your batch). Starters will supply more yeast than your standard vial or package. Our HUGE 5000 ml (5L) Erlenmeyer Flask is the ideal vessel to make a yeast starter for 10+ gallon batches! If you want to put a stopper on your 5L flask, the right size to use is #13. Made from borosilicate glass, which means it can be moved from a boil on your gas stove to a cold water bath for cooling without the risk of cracking. (We do not recommend the use of an electric element. If you cannot avoid this, we recommend using a larger pot as a hot water bath on the stove.) With flasks, your yeast starter process can be completed all in one container. Not only does this keep things simple, but the fewer the vessels, the less risk for contamination.
Yeast starters ensure healthy yeast. By creating a yeast starter 1-3 days in advance of your brew day, you will ensure that your yeast is healthy and robust enough to do its job. Secondly, making a starter allows you to create more yeast to use. This increase in the cell count will give you a better chance of keeping bacteria and wild yeasts from fermenting in your wort. If you plan to brew a high gravity beer (1.060+), you will need more yeast to start the fermentation faster. High-gravity beers will also have a better chance of completing fermentation with ample quantities of yeast (less chance of stalling out).
The "Double Boiler" Method involves using a boiling water bath outside the Erlenmeyer flask to heat the water/wort on the inside. All required is a kettle 3 gallons or larger, and it is a safer and more efficient process. Should the flask break or boil over, your pot will collect the contents, keep your stove clean, and keep you away from potential harm. In addition, this method keeps the heat distribution even throughout the flask. Direct heat, non-even heat distribution, to the glass can break down its integrity over time.
Please Note: In the lab world, these Erlenmeyer flasks are "Student Grade" (Student grade is not the highest grade flask and will have minor defects). An excellent container for making yeast starters!
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