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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > culturing yeast from a bottle conditioned beer?
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Old 10-26-2006, 07:04 PM   #1
ian
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Default culturing yeast from a bottle conditioned beer?

So, I'm reading this book on Belgian Ales and the author mentions that a brewer could take the yeast sediment from the bottom of a bottle conditioned beer and create a starter to "borrow" a specific breweries yeast if they desired.

Now, I'm sure that this can be done - assuming the beer is fairly fresh and that only one type of yeast was used (in this book he talks about Belgian brewers using one yeast for primary fermentation, one for secondary, and sometimes a third for carbonation). What I'm wondering is if any of you had tried this? and if so, what was the outcome?

Seems like a good way to get yeast on the cheap.

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Old 10-26-2006, 09:23 PM   #2
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Getting the carbonation yeast instead of the fermentation yeast? I don't know anyone who has done this more than once.

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Old 10-26-2006, 09:29 PM   #3
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I made a Chimay clone from yeast grown from a bottle. It had all the characteristics of Chimay, but it also had some odd, off flavors. From what I understand, you must increase the volume slowly, and pay close attention to sanitation. I only made a two gal. batch. Good luck.

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Old 10-28-2006, 01:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian
So, I'm reading this book on Belgian Ales and the author mentions that a brewer could take the yeast sediment from the bottom of a bottle conditioned beer and create a starter to "borrow" a specific breweries yeast if they desired.

Now, I'm sure that this can be done - assuming the beer is fairly fresh and that only one type of yeast was used (in this book he talks about Belgian brewers using one yeast for primary fermentation, one for secondary, and sometimes a third for carbonation). What I'm wondering is if any of you had tried this? and if so, what was the outcome?
Not a Belgian I know but I'm trying an experiment with a commercial brand of 'unfiltered, unpasturized hefeweissen' to see if it really can work. 1 Litre of boiled, cooled light DME in a sanitized 2 litre glass jug, the dregs of a couple of bottles - after 5 days of no real yeast action I came home tonight to a krausen and proper airlock action. I don't plan on using this batch in a proper brew but I'll note the smells and tastes as it ferments out and then consider my options - I had the jug, sanitizer and DME in already and I drunk the Hefes. I'll loose nothing if it doesn't pan out.
It may be worth doing the same with your Belgian and judging the results.
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Old 10-31-2006, 10:21 AM   #5
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I was home-brewing in the early 1970´s when only dried generic yeast was available. If you wanted a more interesting yeast there were only two ways to get it:

- culture from a bottle-conditioned beer
- culture from a cask-conditioned beer

I usually cultured yeast from bottled Guinness (then still bottle-conditioned) and never had any problems. I just used to drink 2/3 rds of the bottle and add 2-3 teaspoons of sugar and a little water, stick some cotton wool in the opening and leave in a warm place for 2-3 days.

With Belgian beers, this process is much more problematic. In my experience, many Belgian bottled-conditioned beers have very few (or no) live yeast cells. Attempts to produce a yeast culture by the above method have almost always failed. Add to this the fact that many beers use a different strain for primary and secondary conditioning and it may be a waste of time anyway, if you´re trying to replicate the character of the original beer.

One exception is La Chouffe, whose yeast I have used successfully. It has plenty of active yeast cells and starts fermenting a treat. I´ve used it for making various fruit beers using bought beer. For example, taking Koestritzer Schwarzbier, pouring it over cherries in demijohn and then adding the last few inches of a bottle of La Chouffe. I never had any trouble with these fermentations, which were bubbling away like crazy within a day or two.

I would be very careful of taking the yeast from a Hefeweizen. Many German breweries use a different strain for bottle-conditioning - sometimes even using a bottom-fermenting one. Schneider, however, use the same yeast for both, so that would be a good one to try.

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Old 11-10-2006, 02:14 AM   #6
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I've had luck reculturing the dregs from a bottle of Duval. I got the same flavor profile as the original. Same goes for Prankster (brewed in the us). It tasted just like the Duval yeast. Poppels Hommel did not reculture for me. I've heard of homebrewers reculturing from Orval as well. The Bells beers can be recultured as well, especially the Winter Wheat. Same goes for Sweaty Betty Wheat Ale out of Colorado.

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Old 11-10-2006, 02:21 PM   #7
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The main problem you'll run into is that most breweries don't use the same strain to bottle condition as they do with fermentation, so you'll likely be getting some kind of bastard strain.

We did this successfully once, for the mango-peach wit. It was cultured from a bottle of Wit, made by a brewery right down the road, Legend, who doesn't pasteurize their beer (so it needs to stay in the fridge). But I think that was a special exception, because it was a Wit, which means that there's alot of yeast in it anyway, and I was pretty sure it was the same strain they use for fermentation. Good luck getting that out of most bottle-conditioned beers...

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Old 11-10-2006, 03:06 PM   #8
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you can culture delirium tremens yeast too... got a batch of that going right now, the airlock smells delicious!

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