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Old 11-13-2011, 10:58 PM   #1
Brulosopher
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Default Need HELP harvesting yeast

Been brewing a long time and only now considering harvesting my yeast. I primarily use 2 strains, WLP002 (English) and WLP007 (Dry English), so I figured I could save some coin by reusing good yeast. I just bought twelve 1/2 pint mason jars. Here's my rough plan... feedback very much appreciated:

1. Boil jars and lids 30 min to sterilize

2. After racking beer off of yeast cake, dump whatever remains out, then add a pint of pre-boiled (and cooled) water to yeast; swirl to loosen yeast

3. Pour as much as I can into a 2 liter flask; agitate; cover with sanitized foil; let settle for 20 to 30 mins

4. Decant top yeast layer into another flask, leaving crud behind; repeat step 3

5. Decant yeast into 1/2 pint mason jars, seal, and store in fridge

Ehh? My goal is to always have at least 2 jars each of 002 and 007 (4 altogether), healthy enough to pitch. Is this a sound method?

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Old 11-13-2011, 11:28 PM   #2
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I don't see why your plan wouldn't work. I'm considering doing something similar to try to save money... but I'm probably just going to scoop about 1-cup of yeast from the primary and plop in into a sanitized mason jar with some pre-boiled water. No yeast washing.

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Old 11-14-2011, 12:04 AM   #3
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There is a good thread for that called "washing yeast" stickied here I believe. The only thing I would suggest from personal experience is use more water. The trub is easier to avoid when you have more water to work with and I doubt unless you're doing really small batches that you won't be able to get more yeast than you need. Half pint jars seem to be fine even without starters (although it's so easy/cheap I don't know why you would skip it) but I will do a large pickle jar before decanting and then have a lot more yeast in my half pints (even a half cup is more than enough that way).

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Old 11-14-2011, 12:50 AM   #4
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May I suggest you keep it simple to start with and leave washing yeast for a while.

When I rack a beer off the yeast cake, I swirl the cake to get it all liquid, and pour it into about 4 sanitized pint mason jars. I just sanitize with idophor, no extra steps. Store in fridge until use.

I use 1 pint jar for the next beer. If it is less than 1 month old I do not make a starter. If it is older than a month, I make a starter.

For a long time I never washed the yeast, pitched the slurry and no problems.. I now wash the yeast just prior to pitching rather than when I harvest it.

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Old 11-14-2011, 01:16 AM   #5
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What I do which is even easier than washing yeast is make a starter for the sole purpose of harvesting yeast. Ferment out the starter, crash cool it for a day, rack the liquid off, and pour the yeast into sanitized vials. I start with one vial and step my starter from 1L to 2L. That yields 5 vials of yeast. I think the advantage is that you are working with yeast that haven't been stressed( high alcohol environment) and that you have very little trub to deal with.

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Old 11-14-2011, 03:54 AM   #6
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Thanks to all of you for the great ideas! I think I will wash the yeast, even if just a bit, as the beer I'm currently fermenting is a dark porter... I just don't want that impacting the color of my other beers.

I've thought about jus going with a basic starter and growing yeast from that; in fact, I have 2 fresh WLP vials in the fridge, so I think I'll give that a go! I was talking to a local brewmaster for a brewpub and he said he makes all of his delicious beers using a 5 gallon starter... from a single WLP005 vial! Hmm...

Cheers!!!!

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Old 11-14-2011, 11:30 AM   #7
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I second the harvest from stepped starters. It's ridiculously easy and the yeast is always happy. There's no trub or hop particles, just yeast. Then just repeat that for your next brew. I just made 3L starters of 2 kinds of yeast and simply swirled it, poured a mason jar full of each yeast (which I could split into 2 jars if I wanted to) and screwed the top on. I still had more than enough yeast for my RIS and Lager, both showed signs of fermentation in 3-4 hours.

Make sure that you degas the mason jars a few times a day for first few days to get out that co2.

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Old 11-14-2011, 03:23 PM   #8
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What if you used the starter method, but incorporated the sterile de-oxygenated water of the yeast washing too. Wouldn't that be the best of both worlds?

BTW - where in Maine?

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Old 11-14-2011, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDVDuber View Post
What if you used the starter method, but incorporated the sterile de-oxygenated water of the yeast washing too. Wouldn't that be the best of both worlds?

BTW - where in Maine?
I guess you could do that if you're planning on some longer term storage of yeast. I use by stored yeast within a month or two so I don't think it would really make a difference.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:18 PM   #10
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My line of thought is that the yeast cake at the bottom of a finished batch of beer has at least enough healthy yeast to yield a pint or so for future batches, and I really don't mind washing it... I actually kind of want to for fun.

Okay, so I have another question: how much yeast would I need to harvest (or build up from a starter) to where making a new starter wouldn't really be necessary. I brew 2 batches every brew day, which is once to twice per month. Easily my least favorite part is making the starter... I hate it... but I do it. If I harvest enough yeast, say a 1/4 pint, would I be able to pitch it directly into my wort after bringing it up to temp? I would think that amount would be fine given the fact White Labs and Wyeast provide significantly less than that and, for many years, I simply pitched that amount with great results.

Again, I really appreciate all the great recommendations. Thanks!

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