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Old 11-24-2012, 09:59 PM   #1
BobbiLynn
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Default Harvesting yeast from commercial beer

I'm been looking up info about harvesting yeast and the more I read, the more my head starts to swirl. Or maybe it's the 6 pack I downed to get the yeast from the bottom of the bottles. The beer is extra pale ale from sweet water brewery and the beer I want to make with it is "lighthouse ale" from my local homebrew shop. It's a pale ale. I carefully poured each one leaving the last inch or 2 in the bottom of the bottle, I can see lots of yeast down there.

What is the best, easiest way to get the yeast going for a 5 gallon batch? How much will using this yeast change the flavor and process, compared to the cheap dry yeast the recipe kit comes with?

I think I understand that I can harvest the yeast in a mason jar with a little starter wort or just liquid malt extract? What about sugar water? Can I harvest the yeast in sugar water? Sorry, if that is a stupid question.

Could someone point me in the right direction?



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Old 11-24-2012, 10:12 PM   #2
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You want to harvest bottle conditioned yeast the same way you make a starter, with malt extract. Just follow any instructions for making a yeast starter, but instead pour the dregs from as many bottles of the beer you are harvesting from as possible. I usually drink everything but and inch of beer from at least a sixer of the beer, sanitizing the bottle and recapping them with a fresh cap and storing in my fridge until ready to harvest.

Then make your starter wort...resanitize the capped bottles with a spray bottle of sanitizer. Open it, I then usually flame the lip and neck of the bottle with one of those long fireplace lighters, the spray with sanitizer again, and swirl the dregs and add it to my cooled starter wort.

I do that for each bottle I have. Cover the starter vessel with sanitzed foil, give it a good shake to aerate it, and let it be. As it grows, every coupla days I feed it more wort to grow it up, over a week or two.



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Old 11-24-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
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every coupla days I feed it more wort to grow it up, over a week or two.
Could I use "yeast feed" from my local HBS if I don't want to bother with mixing up wort every couple of days? They are little $1.49 each packets you buy to feed your yeast and keep them active, would that work instead of adding more wort? Though, I guess additional wort would be cheaper. Oh, and provide more "room to grow"?

Thanks so much, this help tremendously!
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:37 PM   #4
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I'm in the middle of doing this with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis yeast. I just mixed up a 1-liter starter, poured 2 bottles except for the last 1/2 inch and and swirled the remainder around in there and then pitched it into the starter. I did the same thing with the rest of the 6-pack over the next few days. It probably took 2 days for it to really get going. I added another liter to it 3 days ago and i'll probably brew with it tomorrow. It smells really nice.

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Old 11-24-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
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Is liquid malt extract from a jar, considered as "wort". Maybe I just don't understand the terms.

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Old 11-24-2012, 10:47 PM   #6
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Do a search on making starters. Most people use light dry malt extract and water.

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Old 11-24-2012, 10:57 PM   #7
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Okay, thanks also, BetterSense, I'm starting to catch on, the whole yeast thing had me confused. Good to hear from others trying the same thing. Any good past topics about this, just point me in the right direction!

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Old 11-24-2012, 11:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BobbiLynn View Post
Could I use "yeast feed" from my local HBS if I don't want to bother with mixing up wort every couple of days? They are little $1.49 each packets you buy to feed your yeast and keep them active, would that work instead of adding more wort? Though, I guess additional wort would be cheaper. Oh, and provide more "room to grow"?

Thanks so much, this help tremendously!
Yeast feed is a nutrient, it's not a fermentable, it helps the yeast ferment. You need wort to make a starter/grow yeast.

It's really not hard to do. You seem to be hesitant about doing it. But you have to do it the right way to make it work.

Here's a simple illustrated thread on it....
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:25 PM   #9
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from what i have read about harvesting from bottles is you need to know if they use a different yeast for bottling then the actual yeast they used in the primary fermentation. would result in a huge difference of the strain of yeast you get.

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Old 11-24-2012, 11:33 PM   #10
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from what i have read about harvesting from bottles is you need to know if they use a different yeast for bottling then the actual yeast they used in the primary fermentation. would result in a huge difference of the strain of yeast you get.
Not this again.......Will this little "chestnut" ever die the death it deserves, and not get passed on by every noob when this topic comes up?

Very few breweries swap out their yeasts. And it's mostly Belgians to disguise proprietary strains. And those that filter, and then bottle condition using something clean and neutral.

But the truth of the matter is just the opposite, there is a vast amount of bottle conditioned beers out there that do NOT disguise their strains. And are readily useable.

This is a pretty decent list of bottle conditioned beers, that tells whether or not the fermentation strain is in the bottles.

http://www.nada.kth.se/~alun/Beer/Bottle-Yeasts/
(it's not complete, but it's one of the best sources we have.

But often times you can actually google and find out whether or not the fermentation strain is still in the bottle, and often even what strain they use.

Using the simple google phrase "Bottle Harvesting (beer name) yeast" will usually net you enough information as to whether or not it is. It usually takes you to a thread on here, but even the brewery websites will often tell you.

One Belgian brewery website even has a "for the homebrewers" notice on some of their beer info stating whether or not you should harvest the yeast or not. They actually say "Beer x is conditioned with a different strain." "Beer y can be harvested."

It's been my experience to actually assume the yeast you are harvesting IS the fermentation strain, rather than dropping the old "Many breweries bottle with a different yeast than what they brew with" line that someone inevitably says whenever someone posts a question like this. Or volunteer the information if you actually know whether the beer being asked about is.

There's very little reason for a TYPICAL micro/craft brewery to go through the extra time and expense to do that.


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