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Old 07-27-2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default Yeast Ranching From Your Own Bottles

I have read a few threads on people who collect yeast from bottles such as Bell's and so forth. I've also read about yeast washing after fermentation and pitching on top of a cake.

I've got to thinking, has anyone tried collecting/ranching their yeast out of their own bottles and making a starter? I have not searched too hard for this topic on here so forgive me if its already been discussed.

It seems to me that this too would be a practical way to reuse yeast without being under the "time" pressure of the other methods. Here you could pretty much do as needed, plus it wouldn't take up any additonal room in your precious beer fridge.

One question that I thought of right away was the sanitary issue. Not to knock any homebrewers but I would think that commerically brought beers would have a stricter guideline on sanitation. But then again, once it leaves the brewery, it is out of their control anyway.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Old 07-27-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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I've done this twice with Wyeast Irish Ale yeast. Each time I would take 4-6 bottles and pour out 2/3s of the beer (don't worry, I drank it). I'd take the remaining third and swirl it around to get all the yeast into suspension and pour the slurry into a waiting starter.

It worked pretty well, and both times I was able to propagate enough yeast to successfully ferment the next batch.

However, the second time I did this, it was with bottles that had been fermented using the yeast previously harvested. The porter that I fermented with that yeast had some fruity off flavors. It didn't ruin the batch, but the taste was very different then it should have been. I quit propagating that strain after that.

Conclusion: as long as you maintain proper sanitary procedures you can harvest without problems, but the risk of propagating mutants (in my case) seems to increase.

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Old 07-27-2009, 03:39 PM   #3
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It's not so much a question of "propagating mutants" as it is an issue of (in most cases) selecting for less-flocculant yeast cells (though, you could make the argument that less-flocculant cells are mutants, but I digress). Think about it: if, by the time it gets to the bottle, that yeast is still in suspension, then it's the least flocculant portion of the colony. If you then propagate those cells into a larger colony, then you'll naturally end up reproducing (and thus selecting for) these less-flocculant types.

Sure, people often harvest and propagate from commercial bottles, but the main difference there is that almost all these commercial breweries who bottle-condition are adding back new yeast at bottling time...possibly even filtering beforehand to select OUT the less-flocculant strains before adding that fresh yeast. So, unless you're adding back new yeast at bottling time, I would advise against propagating from a bottle of homebrew.

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Old 07-27-2009, 04:33 PM   #4
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Wow Evan!, I would have never thought about that. Makes sense. Sounds like it might not hurt to do with Hefeweizen strains though.

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Old 07-27-2009, 05:05 PM   #5
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I've also treated top-cropping the same way. I'll only re-use top cropped wheat & wit strains - as i don't care about further perpetuating the least flocculent cells.

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Old 07-27-2009, 05:48 PM   #6
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I wouldn't be as concerned when top-cropping, because you're typically cropping the yeast during the high-krausen phase, before the yeast should be flocculating. I wouldn't think the krausen is populated with a disproportionate amount of low-flocc'ing cells...but I could be wrong.

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Old 07-28-2009, 12:00 PM   #7
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Sure sure. I didn't necessarily know if i was right, but being wrong in the top-cropping case would do less "damage" that if it were vice versa. Good point.

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Old 07-29-2009, 05:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan! View Post
It's not so much a question of "propagating mutants" as it is an issue of (in most cases) selecting for less-flocculant yeast cells (though, you could make the argument that less-flocculant cells are mutants, but I digress). Think about it: if, by the time it gets to the bottle, that yeast is still in suspension, then it's the least flocculant portion of the colony. If you then propagate those cells into a larger colony, then you'll naturally end up reproducing (and thus selecting for) these less-flocculant types.

Sure, people often harvest and propagate from commercial bottles, but the main difference there is that almost all these commercial breweries who bottle-condition are adding back new yeast at bottling time...possibly even filtering beforehand to select OUT the less-flocculant strains before adding that fresh yeast. So, unless you're adding back new yeast at bottling time, I would advise against propagating from a bottle of homebrew.
Good point.
I never even thought to think about that but it makes sense. I guess its back to yeast washing/ pitch on cakes for me.
Thanks guys
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