Making a yeast starter has never been easier with Propper Starter™. Rather than boiling up a batch of DME and making wort from scratch (a 30-minute process), Propper Starter, produced by Omega Yeast Labs, allows you to save precious time by having your yeast starter on the stir plate in minutes. I’ve been using Propper Starter for a while now and I have no complaints—it works really well. Anything to save time and take the chore out of homebrewing is a yes for me.
A yeast starter is one of the most important aspects of ensuring healthy fermentation and better final product. I think it’s a really important habit to get into if you’re looking to take your homebrew from good to great.
How to Use Propper Starter
Propper Starter is condensed wort in a can that is premeasured to create a 1-liter starter with an SG of 1.040. This is your basic starter that is well-suited for most 5 gallon batches of homebrew up to an OG of 1.065.
Simply open a can of Propper Starter (no need to boil), pour it into your flask along with 16 ounces of bottled, boiled tap, or distilled water, then add your yeast. Propper Starter contains yeast nutrient in the can, so no need to add it to the starter.
Step 1: Sanitize EVERYTHING
Ensure your 2L Erlenmeyer flask is clean and properly sanitized with Star San. I give mine a thorough dunk before making my starter. It’s also important to sanitize the outside of your yeast packet along with your can of Propper Starter and any bottled water. This is to ensure you don’t pick up any unwanted bacteria from the packaging. A spray bottle filled with Star San/water makes this a snap.
Step 2: Pour Condensed Wort in Flask and Add Water
Open the can and pour all contents into the flask. Add 16 ounces of room temp bottled or distilled water. You can also use tap water. If you’re worried about contamination you can boil and cool beforehand. My tap water is fine so I usually just opt for that. Give the flask a swirl to mix everything.
Step 3: Add Your Yeast
Pitch your yeast into the flask and place on a stir plate. Cover with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil and stir for 18-24 hours.
Step 4: Optionally Decant and Then Pitch
You can pitch the entire contents of the starter when ready or you can do what’s called decanting your starter. This is the process of cold crashing your starter so the yeast falls out of suspension, allowing you to discard most of the wort and just pitch the yeast.
Depending on your batch size or color, the full starter volume could potentially alter or introduce unwanted flavors. I like to pour discard all liquid except for about .5 an inch. Swirl this with the yeast to mix and pitch away.
The only negative aspect I can possibly see with Propper Starter is it’s a more expensive alternative to using DME. A starter with Propper will cost you $3.49 per 1-liter starter. Not the end of the world but it can add up fast if you brew a lot and are going through a lot of cans. Not to mention higher gravity or bigger batches that call for a 2-liter starter will require two cans. The other factor to consider is the need for bottled or distilled water (recommended by Omega Yeast).
A traditional starter made with DME can be made with tap water since everything is boiled. There is no risk of contamination. To be totally risk-averse, it’s best to use a CLEAN water source like bottled or distilled/RO water. You can boil your own tap water but that also adds time to the process and defeats the purpose of the entire fast process. I typically tend to just use tap water because I trust it and I’ve never had an issue since my top-up extract days.
Since I brew once or twice a month if that, I simply factor this into the costs of my batch. A big factor for me is time savings and overall ease of the brewing process. If I can reasonably cut some corners without sacrificing quality, the whole process is more appealing to me. That’s my general philosophy and $3.49 is a small price to pay for making the more mundane tasks of brewing that much simpler.
Condensed canned wort is a great way for beginners to get into the habit of making yeast starters without a lot of time commitment. There’s so much to learn in the beginning that sometimes something’s gotta give.