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Old 03-17-2007, 04:21 PM   #1
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Default liquid yeasts/small batches/yeast harvesting/freezing...

I'm having a blast brewing small batches (3 gallons) in my kitchen these days. The only drawback is that I am not using liquid yeasts because I don't want to spend $9 for yeast for only 3 gallons of beer.

I've thought about yeast harvesting, but I don't brew enough batches one after another or even in a brew season (Oct to April) to get many uses or even a second use out of a yeast.

But then I stumbled onto freezing yeast: http://www.schwedhelm.net/brew/yeast_harv_freeze.html

Is anyone doing this ?

I'm concerned about getting the yeast out of the primary fermentor without contaminating it. I ferment in 4 gallon plastic buckets covered with plastic wrap.

I sanitize them thoroughly and I've never had any off tastes in my brews. But to get the yeast/trub out of the pail after racking, I'd have to pour it out and I'm worried about the rim of the pail being dirty.

Am I being anal ?

Is there another way to harvest the yeast from a pail ? What about a vacuum suction setup and a hose that sucked the yeast into a sterilized jar ?

What about contaminating the yeast with the racking tube ?

How long do you think one could store frozen yeast ? The cells are dormant when frozen, right ? And it sounds like the freeze/thaw cycle is what kills them. So could yeast be frozen indefinitely, like sperm is in the dairy industry ? 1 year ? 2 years ? 4 years ?

I'd love to figure out a way to economically use liquid yeast in small batches.

Thanks

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Old 03-17-2007, 04:29 PM   #2
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This guy has a much simpler procedure:
http://www.ipass.net/mpdixon/Homebrew/Freezing Yeast.htm

What did the first instructions use the alcohol burner for ? The first process seems to have lots of steps for possible contamination. I like the idea of using the pipette. I wonder if a sterilized syringe would work ?

I am confused about which yeast stuff in the bottom of the fermentor to use. I thought the thick slurry would be the stuff one would want. Or is that the dead yeast material ?

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Old 03-18-2007, 01:15 AM   #3
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Yep, I am going to start doing this. Have all the stuff now. It sounds REALLY easy. My last piece of gear that I needed was a pressure cooker to use as a makeshift autoclave. Otherwise, I am good to go -- have my glycerine, autoclavable screw-top glass vials, pipette, mason jars, small cooler for the freezer, etc.

I also just acquired stuff to do starters properly (stirrer, 2L flask, etc.) since freezing small vials of yeast absolutely requires a starter.

Oh, just a note Brewman -- I think I also have everything to try a steam infusion mash now, a la Brewman's system! I just need the silicone tubing. Any chance that food grade polyethelene tubing would work as well? I know it says low pressure, but I don't consider 10 psi very much. But what about temperature problems? (Sorry to steer away on this thread.)

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Old 03-18-2007, 02:14 AM   #4
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Hey FG ! Have you been planning to freeze yeast all along ?

Where did you get the screw top vials, pippet, etc ?

A pressure cooker as a makeshift autoclave ? What's makeshift about it ?! Its pretty much the real thing !

About the hose. I searched www.mcmastercarr.com for "polyethylene tubing" and the max temp they came up with was 200F. Some tubing is only rated for 100F. By comparison, steam at 10PSI is about 240F. Your tubing might or might not work. 10PSI doesn't seem like much, but some plastic tubing is rated for less than 20 PSI at room temp. Such tubing might fail at 10 PSI at 240F.

For comparison sake, I think the tubing I used is rated at 70 PSI at room temp and its rated to 400F. It did not seem to soften when used in my steam setup.

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Old 03-18-2007, 02:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewman !
Hey FG ! Have you been planning to freeze yeast all along ?

Where did you get the screw top vials, pippet, etc ?

A pressure cooker as a makeshift autoclave ? What's makeshift about it ?! Its pretty much the real thing !

About the hose. I searched www.mcmastercarr.com for "polyethylene tubing" and the max temp they came up with was 200F. Some tubing is only rated for 100F. By comparison, steam at 10PSI is about 240F. Your tubing might or might not work. 10PSI doesn't seem like much, but some plastic tubing is rated for less than 20 PSI at room temp. Such tubing might fail at 10 PSI at 240F.

For comparison sake, I think the tubing I used is rated at 70 PSI at room temp and its rated to 400F. It did not seem to soften when used in my steam setup.
Yes, I have been planning to freeze yeast for a couple months now since I came across one of those same articles you mentioned. Getting tired of paying $9 or $10 for liquid yeast! I have everything to do 2L starters now, and my plan was to pitch the yeast into a 2L starter before brewing, then keep 2/3 of the starter for the batch, and freeze the rest. That should yield 8 or so vials -- so about a buck a batch.

I work at the university so getting vials was no problem for me. If you like, I can get you some (but they weren't that cheap -- should pay for themselves in the long run, though). I bought my 2L Erlenmeyer flask there, too. Everything else, I scrounged up, including an old (but operational) magnetic stirrer that was being pitched.

Anyways, I want to try a hefe-weizen here soon, but realized that I either need to step mash with multiple infusions (which I am not crazy about), or get a steam infusion system working since I am mashing in my 10 gal cooler MLT. I am *that* close to finishing it -- but based on your advice, I had better order some silicone tubing. Was it expensive from McMaster Carr (especially after shipping to Canada)?

Cheers!
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Old 03-18-2007, 02:50 AM   #6
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There have been a number of threads on this topic recently, you can search around and find them pretty easily...I take it a step father and do all of this in the lab that I work in. In fact, I have a liter or yeast growing up now in a 30*C shaker for tomorrows IPA. Need to come into work in the morning to do some stuff anyway, spin down the yeast, and bring it home.

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Old 03-19-2007, 04:50 PM   #7
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Flyguy: that hose is $1.50 a foot if I remember correctly and looks like it will last forever. Really nice stuff. I'm thinking of using it for all my hose.

Shipping is really good/cheap with McMasterCarr. (Just watch the oversized items !) I think its $8 or some ridiculous price. I can't remember if they have a minimum order of $30 or if its Digikey, but one does.

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Old 03-19-2007, 04:53 PM   #8
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I'm still looking for a really simple way to separate the yeast from the trub and the beer. I know about pouring the contents of the bottom of the fermentor into a jar and leaving it layer, but I'd like something simpler, like right out of the fermentor if possible. The fewer vessels and steps the better as far as I can tell.

So the layers in the bottom of he fermentor will be trub/yeast/beer, right ?

Typically, how thick will the yeast layer be ?

Could one harvest from the secondary ?

Thanks.

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:22 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info, Brewman. I might just have to put in an order if it is that inexpensive.

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:32 PM   #10
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There are a couple of techniques on the yeast freezing page of the wiki:

Freezing Yeast

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