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Old 01-16-2011, 06:43 PM   #1
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Default Capturing Wild Yeast Question

I thought it would be a cool idea to try to catch some wild yeast from my backyard so I put about a half gallon of wort that I brewed that day out on my porch and left it for out uncovered for two weeks. I just brought it in yesterday, the wort was partially frozen and after thawing it and warming it up to 68F, I'm not detecting any activity.

My overall question is: Can you capture wild yeast in the winter?
I know it would be dormant in these cold temperatures, but I figured that since it was airborne, it wouldn't matter if it was active or dormant.

Not sure if it matters, but heres some info:
1.057 OG, the wort was a Hefeweizen and did have hops in it. It sat out in a screened in porch for 2 weeks and the temperature got as low as about 10F I'm sure.

Any help on the subject is appreciated.

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Old 01-16-2011, 07:25 PM   #2
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I'm pretty sure capturing wild yeasts need to be in at least spring temperatures... the normal timeframe of "2 weeks" means that other bugs may get in the wort, but at that time, the yeast, in warmer temps, will be healthier and be able to take over the wort... Then you get the natural yeast that is dominant in your area, and hope it tastes good

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Old 01-17-2011, 01:02 AM   #3
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The things that yeast live on are either dead or dormant, so there is no yeast drifting around on dust or pollen in winter. If you want to play with wild yeast, look for honey with a lot of white fog coating the surface. Try that in a starter and see if it takes off. My first try did, my next two didn't. It's not as romantic as plucking them from the air, but it'll get you started. My honey yeast comes from a bee keeper just up the street, I just let the bees do all the work for me.

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Old 01-17-2011, 04:28 AM   #4
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Honey will contain some yeast spores, but it's not likely it would foam (or fog) the surface. That "fog" is probably hive debris (wax, pollen, etc.)

If you have any kind of fruit still left on trees/bushes, especially those that form a whitish bloom on their skins, you can inoculate your wort with them. Would probably work best to use a light-gravity wort...like making a standard yeast starter. The trick to getting good wild starter is to stir, and stir some more...a few times a day for a few days until fermentation is obvious.

Many strains of yeasts are very robust and prolific, and you may have as much luck capturing them indoors as out during the winter.

Tim
(beekeeper & wild fermenter)

p.s. maybe checkout Wild Fermentation Forum

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Old 01-17-2011, 04:41 AM   #5
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Also, you will need to bring your wort up to a reasonable temperature. Even if some yeast falls into it, it probably won't hit a good growth phase until it's in the mid 60's.

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Old 01-17-2011, 05:13 AM   #6
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If you grabbed any airborne yeast they probably died when the liquid froze. Try again when it isn't freezing outside.

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Old 01-17-2011, 01:33 PM   #7
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The fog only appears where exposed to air, which tells me it is a microbe colonizing that requires oxygen to propagate. Since most everything is intolerant of the hyperosmolar environment in honey, I make the blind assumption that it is Saccharomyces or more likely Zygosaccharomyces yeast. Since I did in fact brew a beer and now have a usable strain of yeast from the honey method, I figure that assumption is a sound and justified one.

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Old 01-17-2011, 03:14 PM   #8
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El Excorcisto, you can indeed (and I often do too) revive the yeast in your honey. But the haze you are seeing is likely minute air bubbles and small amounts of hive debris that invariably get trapped and slowly rise to the surface of honey. Unfiltered honey and crudely processed honey is obviously much higher in this debris and air.

I'm not saying you're not getting wild yeast from your honey...you definitely are. It's just probably not what your seeing on top. My honey is often VERY foamy after extraction because of my low-tech method.

The only exception would be if the hyperosmotic condition was broken by extracting the honey before it is properly ripened or if rainy/high-humidity conditions prevented ripening. It's not in the bees interest to have their honey turning into booze, and they take great pains to insure it does not.

If you want a really active wild culture from the hive, try using raw bee bread. The bees deliberately ferment the pollen to preserve it. The bees are brewers too, but not of their honey.

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Old 01-17-2011, 03:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster View Post
If you grabbed any airborne yeast they probably died when the liquid froze. Try again when it isn't freezing outside.
The yeasts are probably not dead (at least not all of them). They will become active if you bring up the temperature. But you need to really baby a wild starter (lots of stirring, aeration), otherwise it will become populated with bacteria before the yeasts take hold.
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:16 PM   #10
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Tim, what exactly is bee bread?

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