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Old 02-09-2011, 11:23 PM   #1
el_caro
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Default Have I got enough harvested yeast?

I guess this question has been done to death and I apologise for that but I am getting sore eyes from reading on the subject and cannot get a clear answer in my head.

My aim was to collect yeast from a 750ml (26oz) bottle of Coopers Pale Ale for use in a 5 gallon batch of Pale Ale I intend to do.

I collected the bottom inch or so (30mm) of dregs and put this into 3.5 pints (1650ml) of 1.040 wort which was then put on a stir plate for a couple of days until all sign of activity stopped. I then carefully poured off the spent wort and added more wort to bring the volume back to 3.5 pints (1650ml). Stirred this again for nearly 2 days then put in fridge to let it all settle out to the bottom. I then poured off the spent wort and put a couple of litres of boiled water into the flask, gave it a good mix up and allowed to settle for 20 mins then poured off bulk of the liquid into another flask leaving some trud in the bottom of the original flask. I allowed this to settle out over night in the fridge then poured off most of the liquid leaving about 250ml (cup)in the flask. Gave this a good swirl and put into a 250ml beaker and allowed to settle out in the fridge overnight.

Result is I have 25ml of yeast in the bottom of the beaker.

I am really confused by using the Mr Malty calculator!!
I am intending to do an ale, 5 gallons and lets assume default OG of 1.048. Do I set the date to the day I collected the yeast?? I assume I have to use the tab 'Repitching from Slurry' ? If I play with the 'Yeast Concentration' slider it gives ml of yeast needed figures in the range of 50 - 76 ml.

I did this harvesting exercise as a trial run as I have more bottles and intended to do it without washing the yeast and paying great care to sanitation. My intent was to just step up and pitch straight into the fermenter.

My questions are many but am I reading Mr Malty correctly?
Is the 25ml of yeast going to be enough to just put into another starter (say 1000ml size) then just pitch into fermenter?

Sorry if I have rambled on but many things are unclear to me and any specific advice would be appreciated.

ps Putting the dregs of one 750ml (26oz) bottle into 3.5 pints (1650ml) of 1.040 wort appears to have worked great as it took off like crazy on the stirplate.

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Old 02-10-2011, 01:19 AM   #2
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Yeah I'd say you had well more than enough. pic?

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Old 02-10-2011, 01:25 AM   #3
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1650mL is really quite large for a first pitch from dregs. It sounds like it took off well enough, but when you're culturing small quantities of yeast like that you are always fighting against competing organisms. If you'd like to get into yeast ranching, I'd highly recommend Chris White's book Yeast. It covers all of this stuff pretty well.

I've not done a lot of bottle harvesting, but I likely would have pitched my first round into something on the order of 100mL. From there, step up to 500mL, then 2L. Your latter two steps can be standard 1.040 starter, but I'd keep the first one nice and gentle at like 1.020. You'll end up with a lot more yeast. That's all just for next time, though.

The date function on the Mr. Malty calculator is just an approximate way of setting the viability of the yeast. From a starter, your viability is quite high. Those dates are primarily intended for people using non-fresh smackpacks or yeast slurry. You are indeed reading Mr. Malty correctly, and 25mL will definitely be underpitching. The sliders are pretty loose and fast with their estimates, but without a scope and a haemocytometer it's tough to do better than that.

From here, I would do a few more rounds of starter until I got up to the kind of volume the calculator suggests (50-75ml). I'd do a 1L starter, decant, and do a 2L starter considering what you are starting with. That should give you about the right volume.

Hope this helps!

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Old 02-10-2011, 01:29 AM   #4
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1 ozs of fresh yeast is probably plenty to pitch straight.

While I always recommend a starter for liquid yeast, the vials from White-Labs are about 35 ml volume (total), the yeast only takes up 20-25% of that, and they say that is direct pitchable; and that's after 4 months!

If you know the yeast is viable (and you do), pitch it straight without a starter.

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Old 02-10-2011, 02:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
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1 ozs of fresh yeast is probably plenty to pitch straight.

While I always recommend a starter for liquid yeast, the vials from White-Labs are about 35 ml volume (total), the yeast only takes up 20-25% of that, and they say that is direct pitchable; and that's after 4 months!

If you know the yeast is viable (and you do), pitch it straight without a starter.
From my understanding, the comparison to the white labs vial doesn't work. I remember hearing somewhere that their yeast is centrifuged and resuspended before packaging. Even if that's not how they do it, I can say from personal experience with a hemocytometer that they have a cell density _way_ above anything I've ever seen in slurry or sludge from a starter.

I've got to imagine that the dregs from his cooper's bottle had nothing more than a few billion viable cells at most, and even those were likely pretty old and tired. If that's right, the growth charts don't suggest that he'd hit pitching rate with just two 1650mL starter steps.

Anyway, he'll definitely get a fermentation if he pitches as is, but I do think it would be underpitching.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:36 AM   #6
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Default Have I got enough yeast?

Thanks ever so much for your thoughts and I will do the process again using your suggestions. Looks like I will have no trouble getting the quantity of yeast but maybe just a few more steps starting from say 100ml volume and working up.

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Old 02-10-2011, 10:45 PM   #7
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Default Have I got enough yeast?

Well experiment time is over and I have just started the real attempt to harvest yeast from one x 750ml Coopers Pale Ale bottle.

As suggested I am starting with 100ml of 1.020 wort + 3cm of dregs from the bottle in a 500ml Erlenmeyer Flask on a home made stirrer ( cost me $5 to make and I just love it). Will update on success or not.

The Pale Ale from the source bottle must be just about at the right temperature to drink so I shall look at that task now.

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Old 02-12-2011, 04:23 PM   #8
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Keep us posted.

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Old 02-12-2011, 10:21 PM   #9
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Default Not looking good

No sign of life in the 100ml of wort on the stir plate after 36 hours. I did not see any dregs in the bottle this time but pitched it anyway. I had some yeast nutrient but forgot to use it.

This bottle was purchase from the local bottle shop and was never refrigerated . It reached temperatures nearing 40°C for a couple of weeks during the last heatwave here. Wonder if that had any effect?

I will let it go for another 24 hours and then maybe try another bottle.

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Old 02-13-2011, 12:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el_caro View Post
No sign of life in the 100ml of wort on the stir plate after 36 hours. I did not see any dregs in the bottle this time but pitched it anyway. I had some yeast nutrient but forgot to use it.

This bottle was purchase from the local bottle shop and was never refrigerated . It reached temperatures nearing 40°C for a couple of weeks during the last heatwave here. Wonder if that had any effect?

I will let it go for another 24 hours and then maybe try another bottle.
Harvesting dregs is a fickle mistress. 40°C could have definitely made the yeast pretty dormant, though I suspect you might be able to get some life out of it. That said, for the sake of your sanity it might be worth finding a more protected bottle somewhere to get a healthier start. You can culture up from a single cell if you need to, but the sicker your start is the more work you've got to do to coax them up.
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