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Old 09-30-2005, 02:05 PM   #1
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Default re-using yeast after a few months

I know that some (maybe a lot) of you guys will rack a new batch of wort into the primary, right on top of the trub from a previous batch and not pitch new yeast.

I've never done this before, because I always just used low-cost dried yeasts. However, I am now starting to experiment with different yeast strains, which has forced me to start buying the much more expensive smack-packs of Wyeast. Since I am now paying about 4 or 5 times as much for my yeast, I'd like to re-use the stuff for at least two batches.

The problem is, I like to bounce around and make a lot of different kinds of beer, so re-using a special yeast for two back-to-back batches doesn't work for me.

My Question
There is usually a small amount trub in my secondary, and it's basically just yeast. Ie; it is free of the extra 'junk' that is mixed in with the trub in my primary, like hops and other particulates.

If I put that yeast cake from the secondary into sterilized glass bottles and kept it in the fridge, could I re-use it after a few months time? My thinking is that keeping the stuff cold would shut the yeast down, and I might be able to make a starter from it when the time came and I needed one of these special kinds of yeast again after a couple of months.

Has anyone ever done this? How did it work for you?

-walker

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Old 09-30-2005, 03:15 PM   #2
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I decided to try this myself awhile ago. I used this method. Scroll down until you see the article Yeast Washing – (Quick and Dirty).

Mine is still in the fridge; I haven't tried to reuse it yet.

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Old 09-30-2005, 03:33 PM   #3
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cool thanks. Ironic that the article is from the CARBOY newsletter... I just joined that group and went to my first meeting this week!

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Old 09-30-2005, 03:47 PM   #4
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I think I'm going to do things slightly different with regards to storing the yeast. Since I plan to gather my yeast from the secondary, fermentation will definately be done, so I am not going to bother with an airlock.

I'll just make use of the clear Newcastle's bottles I have saved and actually cap the things and put them in the fridge (inside of a hard plastic tub just in case something does decide to explode.) Hmmm.. maybe I'll just use plastic soda bottles and screw the caps on tight. Much less risk, I guess.

thanks for the link, and I'd be interested in hearing how this works for you when you eventually try to make a starter from one of your samples.

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Old 09-30-2005, 04:44 PM   #5
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I usually get 1 or 2 half liter bottles of yeast from a primary.

I use clear flippies for my yeast. This way I can vent the CO2 build-up and see the yeast (like in a large vial).

I have reused yeast that was several months old without any problems.

Sometimes I'll make a larger than normal starter and split it prior to pitching in a batch. This way I get 2 for 1.

Be sure you come up with some kind of labeling system for the bottles if you reuse your yeast. And be sure to date it so you know which one to use first.

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Old 09-30-2005, 04:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
I use clear flippies for my yeast. This way I can vent the CO2 build-up and see the yeast (like in a large vial).
Cool. The same things will apply to 16oz soda bottles, so I like my plan so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
I have reused yeast that was several months old without any problems.
Good to know! That was the one thing not mentioned in the CARBOY article (longevity).

Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
Be sure you come up with some kind of labeling system for the bottles if you reuse your yeast. And be sure to date it so you know which one to use first.
Already considered that part. I have visions of opening the fridge and seeing rows of bottles with little white labels, each filled with salvaged yeast strains;

"Irish Ale 1082 - from Kaffe Stout Secondary - 10/30/2005"
"Scottish Ale 1782 - from Guagach 80/- Secondary - 11/30/2005"
etc, etc, etc.

Thanks for the info HB99!

-walker
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Old 09-30-2005, 06:33 PM   #7
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Is there enough yeast in the secondary to properly ferment a second beer? It seems that you'd throw a lot away in the primary.

I also have a question about saving the trub from the primary. Wouldent you be saving some malt and hops too? Wouldent that affect the quantity of ingrediants in the second batch?

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Old 09-30-2005, 06:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherWhiteMeat
Is there enough yeast in the secondary to properly ferment a second beer? It seems that you'd throw a lot away in the primary.
No idea. It seems that the majority of people chose to draw from the primary, but no one has said that the secondary WON'T work. There will yeast in it, and as long as a starter is made to let the yeast begin to reproduce, I would think that it should be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherWhiteMeat
I also have a question about saving the trub from the primary. Wouldent you be saving some malt and hops too? Wouldent that affect the quantity of ingrediants in the second batch?
According to that article linked above, you mix the trub and remaining beer from the primary and let it settle out a bit. Then you decant the small amount of liquid in there AWAY from the sediment, leaving you with a small amount of beer with lots of yeast in suspension. I don't think the teeny tiny bit of malt that is there will affect the flavor of the 5 gallon batch you are going to pitch into, and the solids from the dregs of the primary are not kept.


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Old 09-30-2005, 10:29 PM   #9
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When I used hop pellets there was a lot of hops left in with the yeast. This also added some extra bitterness to the subsequent brew. I believe this is the reason you should wash your yeast.

When I switched to whole hops the yeast is much cleaner.

Just checked my fridge for a count . . . I have 17 - 1/2 liter bottles of yeast in there.

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Old 10-01-2005, 02:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
When I used hop pellets there was a lot of hops left in with the yeast. This also added some extra bitterness to the subsequent brew. I believe this is the reason you should wash your yeast.

When I switched to whole hops the yeast is much cleaner.
I was thinking about all the hop sediment in the trub effecting the flavor of the next brew. So, just how do you wash yeast?
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