The Best Stir Plates For Making a Yeast Starter: Pitch a Healthier Yeast On Brew Day

Budget Pick
Anzeser MX-3K
Magnetic Stirrer
Our Favorite
Northern Brewer
Maelstrom Stir Plate
Best Value
INTLLAB
Magnetic Stirrer
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The more details you control when brewing beer, the better the beer, right?  We know that having as much control over the brewing process and the ingredients you use can make all the difference between a good or bad batch of beer.

After you have a few homebrews under your belt, you might want to think about making your own yeast starter instead of pitching the traditional packaged yeast.

If you are taking on the task of making your own yeast starter for your next batch of beer, using a yeast stir plate instead of manual stirring will make the job much easier while optimizing your yeast’s effectiveness and create higher cell counts, hopefully the making of better beer.

That’s why we made this review for the best stir plates for yeast starters.

Table of Contents

Our List Of Top 7 Stir Plates

Keep in mind that magnetic stir plates are used in many industries for many different uses.  Our reviews are only based on using these magnetic stirrers for making yeast starters for homebrewing.

One more thing. None of these stir plates come with a flask or any type of vessel, so unless you already have one, you will have to buy one separately.

If you don’t have time to read the review of each magnetic stir plate, here is a quick look at the ones featured below.

Northern Brewer Maelstrom Stir Plate (TOP PICK)

Northern Brewer consistently makes quality beer brewing equipment, and this stir plate is no different, that is why we chose it as our top pick.  It is a high-end classic, dependable and reliable option for any homebrewer preparing a yeast starter and needing a magnetic stir plate.

This Maelstrom stir plate is classified as industrial grade, but made specifically for the DIY homebrewer. Northern Brewer claims that this is the first programmable stir plate designed and created specifically for yeast starters, and the first programmable stir plate.

You can program your speeds from 480 to 1440 RPM, with five different levels, making for a variety of speed control. It also has a timer function where you can program your stir plate to run 48 hours in advance, and it can handle yeast starters of up to 5 gallons.

The powerful magnets are strong, durable and work reliably well, even at the machine’s maximum rate. It is easy to clean and maintain the translucent body and base. It comes with a 50mm stir bar, and will support any stir bar up to 3.5″ in length.

Pros

  • Wide range of speed control
  • Handles a large capacity of yeast starters, up to 5 gallons (19 Liters)
  • Powerful magnets
  • Very quiet.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options on our list
  • Will not work with vessels with concave bottoms

INTLLAB Magnetic Stirrer (BEST VALUE)

This compact, durable unit is made of stainless steel, comes with one magnetic stir bar, and travels well, and is our pick for the best value. It’s easy to use and has tremendous range of speed control, from as low as 0 RPM all the way up to 3000 RPM.

It has a maximum mixing volume of 3000 mL or 0.8-gallons, and a good deal of precision in its performance of higher rpm’s, as various fluids and substances can be easily agitated and stirred.

Since it only comes with one stir bar, it might be a good idea to purchase additional sizes for different size flasks.

Although this particular item is one of the most popular and highest selling magnetic stirrer on our list, that doesn’t mean that there are some concerns.

The main concern is the getting a consistent stir at certain speeds. At lower to medium speeds is the most reliable, but at higher speeds the magnets may not always hold the stir bar.  This is more of an issue when using a thicker flask, or stirring a more viscus liquid.

Just so you know, when this unit is plugged in, it is on, no matter where the dial is set.  There is no switch to turn it off and on, so you will have to unplug from the receptacle it to turn it off.

Pros

  • One of the most affordable of the available stir plates on the market
  • Quiet motor with high RPMs
  • Wide range of speed control

Cons

  • No actual on/off switch
  • Power cord should be longer

Anzeser Magnetic Stirrer (BEST BUDGET PICK)

IF you are just looking for a no-frills and easy to use magnetic stirrer, this is our choice for our “best budget” pick.

The 5.12″ stir plate is slightly larger than other competitors, and it’s made from high quality 5052 stainless steel, which will last longer than other surface materials, and it’s easier to clean.

Like most stirrers, it has a 3000mL stirring capacity with an adjustable maximum 3000 RPMs with a single dial, and comes with one stir bar.

Keep in mind, that even though it has a 3000mL capacity, it is not suited for high viscosity solutions.  If you like this choice, but would like a heating option along with the stir plate, check out the Anzeser Lab SH-2.

Pros

  • Budget friendly price
  • Perfect for 1mL and 2mL flask
  • Large sturdy base

Cons

  • Not good for higher viscosity solutions
  • Magnet could be stronger for higher RPMs

Apera Instruments Lab Stirrer/Stir Plate

Saving space while small in size, this stir plate packs a mighty punch, even though it will fit in the palm of your hand.

It can accommodate various sizes of a vial or your favorite flask with a capacity size ranging from 50ml to 3000ml, and has a speed range of 0 RPM to 2300 RPM.  Although it will mix up to 3 liters, or 0.8-gallons, it really isn’t suited for higher viscous liquids.

It also comes with a non-slip silicone cap that covers the 120mm diameter stir plate, which provides and added level of safety, and keeps the flask on the stirrer where it should be. 

Also included is one 25mm and 30mm magnetic stir bars, and three sizes (small, medium, large) of stir beads, and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Small footprint saves space
  • Comes with multiple stir bars
  • Very quiet motor

Cons

  • Unable to program, so you there will be more DIY in your stirring process.
  • Speed is unpredictable with the dial instead of digital program.

HYCC MX-3K Laboratory Magnetic Stirrer

If you are looking for another bare-bones and economical magnetic stirrer, have a look.  This magnetic stirrer came in second for our best budget pick for it’s price, functionality, and warranty.

Certainly not as fancy as other models on our list, but it should be able to handle the job of making a yeast starter.

It has a 3000mL capacity, a 4.8″ diameter aluminum panel stir plate, an an adjustable stirring speed of 100 to 3000 RPMs, and includes one stir bar. The compact size and weight allows you to use it anywhere.

Although it does come with a 2-year warranty, you might be better served with a more robust option if you plan on using this regularly and often. 

Pros

  • Smooth stirring and easy operation
  • Variable speeds
  • Two year warranty

Cons

  • Concerns about overall magnet strength

Stir Starter - Magnetic Yeast Starter Plate

This stir plate is another model that was designed with the homebrewer in mind.  If you are looking for a no frills option that will accommodate yeast starters up to a 2000mL, this one should do the trick.

If your brewing space is limited, this small stir plate measures 9.3 x 6.1 x 5.6 inches, and weighs just over 1 pound, so this unit will easily fit into the smallest brewing areas.

A few things you will notice with this magnetic stirrer is that the motor rpm is limited, which will help prevent the “throwing” of the stir bar.

It is built with two powerful magnets, and also includes a 1″ stir bar and a keeper magnet. The keeper magnet will keep the stir bar securely in place when pitching the yeast, so it doesn’t end up in the fermenter.

Pros

  • Simple design
  • Compact size
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • Limited volume capacity – Best for 1000ml to 2000ml

BIPEE HJ-1 Magnetic Stirrer

Although this BIPEE magnetic stir plate is on our list, but it is one you might want to pass on.  This particular model doesn’t have the RPMs of other models on our list, and it only has a recommended maximum stirring capacity of 1000mL.

To us, it just doesn’t have the high-quality construction and feel of similar stir plates, and not really sure if it can be used for continuous duty, which is needed when making a yeast starter.

The stir plate is also made from aluminum, which is not as durable as stainless steel. There is one stir bar also included.

To be fair, our reviews are based solely on homebrewing and making a yeast starter.  This magnetic stirrer just isn’t designed to be used for yeast starters, and will work perfectly fine for other applications. If you want to make a yeast starter of at least 2mLs, you should look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Easy operation
  • Variable speed motor

Cons

  • Lower RPM than competitors
  • Only 1mL capacity

How Does a Stir Plate Work?

In its simplest form, a stir plate is a magnetic device that aides in the stirring of a liquid.  The plate can spin at various speeds, and for long periods of time, so you don’t have to spend your day constantly stirring by hand.

These magnetic stirrers contain a motor that is used to spin a set of magnets along with a magnetic stir bar that is inside of the flask or glass vessel. At the base of the plate is an electromagnet that is controlled by a small motor.

A stir bar, which is usually ceramic-coated magnetized metal, goes into the flask. When the machine is turned on, the electromagnet causes the stir bar to spin, which creates a vortex that keeps your yeast in suspension and introduces oxygen for as long as the magnetic stir plate is active.

Benefits Of Using a Stir Plate When Making a Yeast Starter

Although a stir plate is NOT necessary when making a yeast starter, but it does have an advantage over the manual stirring method.

Getting tired of having to remember to stir or shake the flask every time you walk by?

The main advantage is that the stir plate will continuously run while introducing as much oxygen into the starter wort as possible over the next 8 to 24 hours, all while keeping the yeast in suspension.

The yeast will use the nutrients in the starter wort, along with the oxygen to grow strong and healthy yeast cells, which makes for a better beer.  Basically you just set it and forget it.

Do You Need a Stir Plate with Heat?

There are a few reasons why you might want to buy a magnetic stir plate with heat.

First, if you are in your room or brewing area where the ambient temperature is too low to make a strong yeast starter, using a heat plate can help introduce much needed heat to the starter to produce healthy yeast cells.

The second reason would be if you plan on using the heat plate to boil the wort starter in an Erlenmeyer flask, instead of using a pot and stove-top.

Most of these heated stir plates are intended for laboratory use, and will have no problem boiling the starter mixture.  In fact, these types of stir plates are overkill for the homebrewer and dangerous boil-overs can often occur.

We did not include any stir plates with heat on our “best of” list, but if you really want the heat option, there are plenty for you to choose from.

But just make sure you use an Erlenmeyer flask if this is the route you want to go.

How To Choose The Best Stir Plate

As you can imagine, there are dozens of stir plates on the market and doing a search of all of them would be a daunting challenge. Stir plates come in all shapes and sizes, lab or industrial grade, and a wide range of prices.

You need to decide what elements are important for your needs, and what features you think will make your brewing process more simple.

Dimension/Footprint

Size matters! How much homebrew are you making at once? How much space are you able to give up for a stir plate? The capacity of your brew space is a huge factor, so keep that in mind when looking at these stir plate options.

Display

Some people want to see a lot of digital data with speed control and a scheduling function. Others just need an indicator light proving that the machine is on and working. You have options if this is important to you.

Speed Control

You will generally want your yeast starter to spin faster to make the process faster. But there are other elements at play here. The volume of your liquid is the main factor to be sure. The speed adjustment control of the magnetic stir plate can be adjusted by a dial or on a digital panel.

Timer

Naturally, you might be too busy to handle all aspects of the process consecutively. Fortunately, a programmable stir plate means that your yeast starter can be prepared while you are away.

You can pre-set when you want the process to begin. Some of the stir plates have timers with a scheduling function up to 48 hours in advance.

Volume Capacity

Stir plates are rated for the liquid volume that enables an effective stir. Just because it says it will stir up to 3 liters, doesn’t mean it will work for a more viscous yeast starter.

Take the amount of beer you want to brew, then go for a slightly larger capacity. The smallest capacity you probably want to go for homebrewing yeast starters is 2000mL.

Final Say

Any of these stir plates listed above should be more than adequate for making most yeast starters for your next brew day.

But our favorite and overall top pick is the Northern Brewer Maelstrom stir plate.

We chose this as our #1 choice because it is the only stir plate that is specifically designed and built for making yeast starters.

It has strong and powerful magnets, numerous speed adjustment settings, programmable functions with a LCD display, a large stirring platform, and can accommodate yeast starters up to 5-gallons, which you can program up to 48 hours in advance.

Northern Brewer
Maelstrom Stir Plate

northern brewer maelstrom stir plate

This magnetic stir plate will make sure you have healthy yeast for fermentation, and will also make a great addition to your home brewing equipment.

Happy Brewing!

Todd
Todd

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