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Old 01-22-2013, 03:40 PM   #1
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Default Can Yeast Last Forever?

Im wondering if you had the space and supplies to do this, could you make a single vial last forever?

Say I took a single vial of WL001 and made a starter for a 5g batch. Then I pitch that into a 5g 1.030 starter. Harvest all that yeast and separate into vials. This should last for plenty of batches, but when I start to run out can I simply make step it up and make another 5g starter to start over again? Can I do this over and over without the yeast mutating?

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Old 01-22-2013, 03:49 PM   #2
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Yeast will mutate over time. This is discussed in "Brew Like a Monk" as some of the breweries have been around for centuries. It's also discussed in "The Practical Brewer" and a number of other sources. It really depends on the strain and how it is propagated, but if you are careful about things 30-50 generations seems to be what I have read most commonly. In that time the yeast will preform in a very similar way, but if you maped out the entire DNA squence you would likely see small differences from one propogation to the next.

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Old 01-22-2013, 04:36 PM   #3
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The anchor brewing guys on the the BN's Sunday session said they have been using the same yeast since they started brewing anchor steam which was many many years ago, but I'm sure their yeast storage practices are a ton better than a homebrewers without lab grade equipment.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:06 PM   #4
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Mutation will occur over time. But that is not necessarily a bad thing - you could end up with something good (or bad) - a unique house style - that will reflect what you have done to it. Quite an exciting prospect actually. I am planning on doing the same myself. I keep three strains on-hand but replace after a four generations max (Gen 1 in my interpretation being the first three or four bottles I can scoop out of the primary - technically Gen 2. Each of those would go on to provide three or four bottles of babies). I am now planning to keep one type going and going just to see what happens.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:20 PM   #5
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Yes, yeast mutates over time. If you're a homebrewer and you take a "divide and conquer" approach, it would take you quite a bit of time to get a noticeable flavor profile in your beer, especially if you brew similar beers back to back (similar OG + IBU) and ferment at the same temperature.

I take that divide & conquer approach in my write-up here. (shameless plug)

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antler View Post
Im wondering if you had the space and supplies to do this, could you make a single vial last forever?

Say I took a single vial of WL001 and made a starter for a 5g batch. Then I pitch that into a 5g 1.030 starter. Harvest all that yeast and separate into vials. This should last for plenty of batches, but when I start to run out can I simply make step it up and make another 5g starter to start over again? Can I do this over and over without the yeast mutating?
They yeast are always mutating. You start with 125-200 billion and end up with trillions of yeast at the end of fermentation. In that amount of replication, errors will occur even though there's built in error checking on part of the yeast. Some of the mutations will yield dum dum yeast that might die, some will be minor changes that have no bearing on the yeast's performance.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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I plan to buy a stirplate and some flasks soon. If I can make a huge starter and split it into vials like that, you could really make the original vial go a long way!

I drink mostly ales, so right now I'm using a few different yeast strains, but plan to narrow down to 1 or 2 I can brew most of my beers with.

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Old 01-22-2013, 09:08 PM   #8
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I plan to buy a stirplate and some flasks soon. If I can make a huge starter and split it into vials like that, you could really make the original vial go a long way!
And I have. I've brewed about 18 or so batches from a Wyeast 1028 pack!

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Old 01-22-2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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... Some of the mutations will yield dum dum yeast that might die,...
Cletus the slack-jawed yeast cell?
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antler View Post
I plan to buy a stirplate and some flasks soon. If I can make a huge starter and split it into vials like that, you could really make the original vial go a long way!

I drink mostly ales, so right now I'm using a few different yeast strains, but plan to narrow down to 1 or 2 I can brew most of my beers with.
Look into Yeast Slants. There is a sticky on here about it.

They are easy to do with a minimal investment (~$50).

I've been using the same packet of Rogue PacMan for almost 2 years. I've built up a collection of other yeast as well. The start-up process is a little more time consuming than a normal starter, but it's not too bad.
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