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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > secondary or primary yeast from a rare belgian bottle?
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:04 PM   #1
HausBrauerei_Harvey
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Default secondary or primary yeast from a rare belgian bottle?

Hi All,

I'm newer to yeast harvesting but have been salvaging from my own batches pretty much since i started brewing almost a year ago. I grew up canning vegetables from the gardens with my parents so I have some of the right equipment at my place now to sterilize well and have had success so far.

Anyways, a friend brought me a bomber of a Val Dieu Grand Cru a year ago, and I recently drank said bottle and pitched the yeast into a 1 liter starter and let it rip for a day. I ended up with two pint jars of a moderately thick suspension (I probably have about 1/4" of yeast cake on the bottom of the mason jars in the fridge now).

This yeast is near and dear to my heart as I used to live near the Abbey Val Dieu and biked there often to enjoy there beer, which from the tap onsite rivals anything else I have had from Belgium, but that's an aside.

So my Question: I have a buddy who is an experienced brewer(but not yeast harvester) he told me I can't be sure if I have primary fermentation yeast or just secondary bottling yeast on my hands. What would you do to find out? My idea was to brew up a batch of belgian dubbel shooting for 6 gallons post-boil. I would then pitch with a 5 gallon batch using a commercial strain, and then do a smaller batch with my harvested yeast in a growler or something close to a gallon. I keg already so i'd probably have to bottle the smaller batch, but if I had secondary yeast would my 'test batch' taste so bad that I would know it?!

I welcome any advice/input from those who have gone before me into these waters.

Cheers!
Steve

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Old 04-04-2014, 09:28 PM   #2
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Your choices are Google (presumably you've done that), contacting the brewer, or testing.

I have read (meaning not promising good authority or anything) that Belgian brewers tend to use Belgian yeast in bottling, and may condition their bottles in a warm room. To me this suggests they tend to use the primary yeast, which they may or may not repitch. So I think your chances of having a worthless lager yeast in those dregs seem more remote than if it were, say, a hefeweizen. Give it a try, and you should be able to tell with a sniff.

Edit: I reread and I see you already have this on hand. Can't you tell by the smell? If it's a secondary yeast it should be pretty neutral.

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Old 04-05-2014, 06:23 AM   #3
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I did smell it, it smelled like beer. I haven't googled this, I will try this now, but if you can point me to a website or two for such things, I would appreciate it.

Thanks!
Steve

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Old 04-05-2014, 07:30 AM   #4
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Specifically when it was fermenting, did it have a stronger ester aroma? Like, did it smell especially "Belgian"? I am not familiar with the particular beer you're talking about, but I gather it's like an abbey dubbel... I mean you should be looking at a full-on yeast aroma, something fruity and spicy. If you don't smell that, it's probably a secondary, perhaps a lager strain.

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Old 04-08-2014, 05:21 AM   #5
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thanks for your help. It was a Quad actually. I didn't conciously smell it but I think it smelled like a belgian. I did some googling and didn't have luck. I think i'll just try to pitch a one-gallon batch of dubbel with it sometime soon and see how that tastes. Thanks for the advice though I now know what to look for in the future.

Cheers,
Steve

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Old 08-23-2014, 06:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HausBrauerei_Harvey View Post
thanks for your help. It was a Quad actually. I didn't conciously smell it but I think it smelled like a belgian. I did some googling and didn't have luck. I think i'll just try to pitch a one-gallon batch of dubbel with it sometime soon and see how that tastes. Thanks for the advice though I now know what to look for in the future.

Cheers,
Steve
How did your experiment turn out? I am thinking about harvesting the yeast from a tripel bottle.
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:32 PM   #7
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How did your experiment turn out? I am thinking about harvesting the yeast from a tripel bottle.
You know it did work but I didn't think it did as the yeast turned out to be a VERY slow worker.

I pitched a good amount of the harvested yeast into a growler and let it run the same time as my 5 gal of dubbel with white labs yeast. The standard batch was done 3 weeks later and my 'experiment' batch which started around 1.060 was at like 1.045! I was like WTF? I left it on a shelf in my workshop and got really busy with a construction project....

about 4-6 weeks later I went to brew again and found my neglected 'experiment' beer and though "i should see what it finished out at before I dump it'. Well I was surprised to see it was at like 1.002 and tasted pretty good despite sitting on trub for a LOONG time. I got 4 12 oz bottles bottled up and drank a bit of the flat wort that day (about half a bottle was left after bottling). I think it turned out pretty good but it's something I would start out small with like I did, and pay closer attention to it! I still haven't tried one of the bottled ones.
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