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Old 03-13-2012, 03:38 PM   #1
Geordan
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Default Guidance on bottle harvesting

So I've put the cart before the horse in a fit of impatience, and decided to try harvesting Pacman from Dead Guy bottles before having ever tried to make a starter the traditional way. Here's what I did (I originally posted this text in a thread regarding Pacman earlier today, in case it looks familiar):

I made up approximately 400ml of 1.040 wort in a mason jar, which I had boiled for 15 minutes to sanitize, and then stood up and "boiled" the wort for another 15 minutes. Though the wort in the mason jar never boiled proper, it did keep a consistant temperature of about 200f for at least 15 minutes, so I called it sanitized. I then cooled it to room temperature and poured the dregs of two 355ml bottles of Dead Guy (dated "L2811" which I interpreted as "packaged on December 28th, 2011") into the jar. I topped it with a piece of sanitized aluminum foil, loosely placed the ring on to keep bad stuff out, and went to bed. When I woke up this morning I had some lighter coloured (lighter than the wort, at least) sediment at the bottom, which I am unsure as to whether it is yeast or trub. Either way I swirled it back into suspension and came to work.

I am academically aware from reading that the lighter sediment on the bottom in a traditional starter is a yeast cake. Now, I'm also very aware that my Macguyvered process is also less than ideal for starter creation, and I have parts for a stir plate, an E-flask, etc on the way.

What is the best way to tell whether I've got a layer of trub sediment or yeast on the bottom of the jar? I looked for some sort of indication of CO2, but the foil/ring covering may have been loose enough that no CO2 would build up. Is there a reliable way for me to know if this has been a successful experiment, short of actually pitching the yeast? Might it be worth stepping up to 1L and somehow rigging an airlock to a mason jar to check for CO2 creation?

Thanks for your input everyone!

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Old 03-13-2012, 03:40 PM   #2
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1.04 is a bit heavy for harvesting. start out small and low gravity, slowly step up to size.

here's how i harvest from commercial bottles. it's a slow process, but well worth the time and effort.

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Old 03-13-2012, 04:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link -- that's a huge help!

In your experience, how likely is it that the lighter sediment I've got in my jar is yeast versus trub? I've read in a few threads that you will see some trub in starters made with DME, and others say there's next to none. I know that two bottles of Dead Guy won't have given me much yeast to start with, and combined with my too-heavy wort I'm specious that I could have grown up much of anything.

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Old 03-13-2012, 05:29 PM   #4
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usually in that first step, i'll get a grey-ish layer of yeast from the bottles, then as it gets going the lighter, fresh yeast will build up. the first step doesn't net a lot of fresh yeast, but any lighter sediment on the bottom is most likely yeast.

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Have you seen the price of ketchup lately? And I'm not talking Heinz.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:24 PM   #5
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Okay, home from work -- things don't look like they've changed much since this morning. There's a small but noticeable layer of sediment, it's a light tan colour -- not the bright white I would expect of fresh yeast. There isn't any "stratification;" it's a single, unified colour. I've attached some photos below:



So ladies and gentlemen, I suspect the verdict is no live yeast whatsoever. Thoughts?

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Old 03-13-2012, 11:22 PM   #6
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Looks normal. Like I said, you're not going to get much yeast from that first step. You have some yeast, and that's the goal. Cold crash, decant and pitch that slurry into ~500 ml of ~1.02 wort. Then begin building the starter up to brewing size with 1.04 wort after that. I usually go 250 ml then 500 ml @ 1.02, then 500 and 1000 ml @ 1.04. Then that slurry goes into the brewing starter. Like I said in my blog, it takes ~2 weeks for a harvest to go from bottle to wort.

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Old 03-14-2012, 12:53 AM   #7
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Stir plate can make it go much Faster and end up with more. Some bottle harvests will take a day or two to really get going, so there's that too.

With a stir plate and 700-1000ml of wort ( depending on how much ill need) I can get pacman growing over about 36-48 hours from a couple 12oz yellow snow ipas (easy to come by near me) or a bomber of Northwestern ale or Brutal Bitter. Once you have done a few and know the routine,know what to look for and know what to expect, it sort of becomes easier and more convenient than buying yeast most of the time.

I have two e-flasks so if I need a larger starter I may just do two small ones back to back than go through a step up.

Cold crash for at least 24 hours and decant 90-95% of the liquid.

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