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Old 05-17-2013, 06:29 PM   #1
mbach72
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Default Economical use of yeast in small batches

Being the only beer drinker in the house, I have decided to try my hand at some smaller batches. I have varied tastes, so 5 gallon brews tie up too many bottles, limiting the number of different beers I can keep on hand. I'm thinking of brewing batches anywhere between 1-2.5 gallons depending on the style.

I know there are certain beers I will brew on a regular basis. Buying a new tube/pack of yeast each time would make it too expensive to be worthwhile for such small batches. I've been reading threads on yeast washing/rinsing and now I'm confused on exactly how to get the most bang per buck on yeast.

What options are there? For example, could I just make a starter out of a partial tube(ex. use 1/2 tube for a 2.5 gallon brew) and then refrigerate the remainder so that I could get 2 or 3 uses out of it? Would I be better off pitching a full tube, assuming it yields enough cells, and then rinsing the yeast so that I would have several jars of the same strain I could use later.

I apologize for what I'm sure is a dumb question, but I have never really done anything with yeast aside from buying a new pack for each 5 gallon batch. I do understand pitching rates, cell count, and know about mrmalty and all that. My question is really about what the most economical way to use yeast for smaller batches is.

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Old 05-17-2013, 06:42 PM   #2
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Here's what I do: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/do-...5/#post5190298
You can modify the volumes according to your needs and batch sizes either on the freezing end or the starter culture.

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Old 05-18-2013, 01:19 AM   #3
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There are a few different approaches to your situation and you need to find one that you are comfortable with. Freezing yeast if done properly will let you store them longer but it is more involved than simply washing yeast cakes from starters or brews or splitting new vials.

If you are into brewing for the long haul and intend to work with stored yeast then my belief is you should without delay invest in an Erlenmeyer flask and a stir plate. You should also familiarize yourself with correct pitching rates for brews of different volume and OG.
The two most common calculators to assist you in this area are MrMalty and Yeastcalc.

One simple option is to split the new vial or smackpack into three parts - put one third into a starter for your small brew and the other 2 parts into sterile vials.
Another option and the one which i prefer is to put the whole vial into a starter and step up the quantity of yeast significantly. This gives me both enough for the brew I am about to make and another 60 -90ml of yeast that i store in vials for future use. When I come to brew next time, one of my vials is generally sufficient to put into a single starter to make the brew.

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Old 05-18-2013, 03:08 AM   #4
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US-05 dry yeast works on many styles, I make mostly 3 gal. batches and pitch one pack per 3 gal. with out rehydating depending on the gravity of the wort. Its cheap and effective.

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Old 05-18-2013, 06:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiggybrewer View Post
US-05 dry yeast works on many styles, I make mostly 3 gal. batches and pitch one pack per 3 gal. with out rehydating depending on the gravity of the wort. Its cheap and effective.
I wonder if the OP would be happy with just one strain of yeast.

I suspect he is like me and experiments with small batches of various styles of beer. Using just US05 would be limiting.

Also he mentioned his batches are from 1 - 2.5 gallons which would mean significant over-pitching of yeast for some types of beer with a small volume (especially 1 gallon). Over-pitching is rarely a good practice and it takes little effort to calculate what is needed and then aim to pitch that amount.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. For now, I may just do what el caro does and make a starter and save the unused portions for later use. That will get me several uses out of each tube. Maybe not as many as constantly rinsing yeast, but not as much work either.

US-05 has certainly treated me well many times, but el caro was right on, I like many styles of beer and experimenting, it wont work in many of the things like. For standard APA's and IPA's, I'll probably continue using it , but it just wont do in things like hefes and belgians.

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Old 05-19-2013, 01:27 AM   #7
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I would get a vial,make a 1.5-2 liter starter then split that up into 3-5 vials or small jars maybe. Refrigerated them and make a small starter a few days before each of your next brews, then maybe as time goes by and you have older yeast vials maybe make a 1 liter starter rather than the .5 liter starter for the newer yeast-or just step it up,thats what I do and normaly, l do 1.5-2.5 gallon batches every 2 weeks. It ends up cheaper than dry yeast,plus you can have a variety of liquid yeast to use from time to time.

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Old 05-19-2013, 11:44 PM   #8
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One vial is generally about the right amount of yeast for 2-3 gallon batches. As long as that beer is not too strong, you can just harvest the yeast cake. I don't bother washing out the trub, as there's nothing in it that will harm the yeast. I think I have about ten strains in my fridge. I just make starters as needed.

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Old 05-20-2013, 11:05 AM   #9
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Everyone has given you the best options here...split the viles, reuse the yeast cake. For me (1 galloner) I try and time brews as much as possible...double brew days or 2 over 1 week so I can use the full amount. Or time my brews for reuse of the yeast cake...a session ale then put a 10% barleywine on it, etc.

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