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Old 01-03-2011, 11:50 PM   #1
Sensei_Oberon
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Default Commercial Yeast Harvest Questions

So I'm now venturing into the yeast harvesting arena. I expected this to go horribly wrong....

I boiled a half cup of DME in 2 cups of water, cooled and then carefully added the sediment from 3 Bells Two-Hearted Ale bottles to a growler with a little yeast fuel. I then capped the growler with an upside-down jar, allowing oxygen exchange (I sanitized everything).

I don't have a stirplate (plan to make one) so I just swirled it several times a day. After about 5 days now, there is some gunk on the surface. I'm hoping it is a sign of fermentation, but it looks more like mold.

Has anyone encountered mold doing this? Does it sound like I'm on the right track? I don't want to bother with another generation if it has been contaminated. How do I know if it has been funk-dified?

Thanks, I'm mostly trying to learn from the process.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:15 AM   #2
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Have you made a starter before? We really need pics to make sure it is not krausen you are seeing, though that should have happened in 24-48 hours not 5 days. What color is the "gunk"? Is it bubbling? Is there whitish globules growing in the bottom? You should be able to see a significant amount of yeast in the bottom of the growler at this point. What does it smell like?

It would be better to use sanitized foil than an upside down jar. If you are concerned, maybe it would be best to pitch it and try again. A stir plate is definitely helpful for oxygenating the yeast, but it is not necessary for success. More info!!!!

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:16 AM   #3
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Sounds like krausen to me.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:17 AM   #4
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smell and/or taste it

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Sounds like krausen to me.
Revvy, would it take 5 days to show active fermentation? That was my main concern. I have never harvested from a commercial brew, but I wash yeast and pitch very small amounts to a starter and always have activity way before that.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:28 AM   #6
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I could take more than 5 days if that beer has been sitting on a shelf for a while. The longer the yeast has been dormant, generally the longer it takes to get going again. For one of my pacman harvests it took a week to show any visible signs of fermentation.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:38 AM   #7
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I didn't think photos would do much but it seems they do. I can see a yeast cake forming, and if I look really close that moldy gunk seems to be very tiny bubbles.

So I'd say success! Without a stirplate, would you guys recommend I decant and repeat?

If I manage to not screw this up through 3 generations, I was planning to store the wort in some Tupperware or something else that seals well with virtually no head space.

2011-01-03_18-17-47_975.jpg   2011-01-03_18-18-31_717.jpg   2011-01-03_18-19-45_166.jpg  
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:41 AM   #8
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It takes as long as it needs to actually. But there's really no such thing as active fermentation usually where starters are concerned. Here's some basic info I have posted on here countless times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Sounds like your starter did it's thing......It doesn't matter one blip in your fermenter or your starter flask if the airlock bubbles or not (if you are using an airlock and not tinfoil if you are using tinfoil, you aren't getting bibbling anyway,) or if you see a krauzen. In fact starter fermentation are some of the fastest or slowest but most importantly, the most boring fermentations out there. Usually it's done withing a few hours of yeast pitch...usually overnight when we are sleeping, and the starter looks like nothing ever happened...except for the little band at the bottom. Or it can take awhile...but either way there's often no "activity" whatsoever....

I usually run my stirplate for the first 24 hours, then shut it down, if you are spinning your starter it is really hard to get a krausen to form anyway, since it's all spinning, and there's often a head of foam on it from the movement.


All that really matters is that creamy band o yeast at the bottom.





This is a chilled sample so it's flocculated, but even with an unchilled sample you should see a band of yeast at the bottom. Here's an unchilled version



Same thing, a band.

As it is I've only ever seen two or three krausens actually on my starter (one blew off a bunch of krausen and knocked the tinfoil off the flask,) and the evidence of one on the flask at the "waterline" once. But I've never not had a starter take off.

Look for the yeast at the bottom, don't worry what it looks like on top.

If you have yeast on the bottom....that's all you really need.

If it looks anything like that, your are ready to either feed it again, or use it.
Your picture looks to me that you have yeast, and maybe a krausen on the top, have your recently fed it some more wort to step it up? I would.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:43 AM   #9
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Looks like success to me! Kinda hard to see w/ the brown growler and fuzzy pic, but that looks like a uniform head of krausen not mold.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Your picture looks to me that you have yeast, and maybe a krausen on the top, have your recently fed it some more wort to step it up? I would.
So don't decant, just add fresh wort?
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