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Old 04-03-2010, 04:06 AM   #1
bierzwinski
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Default Starting a Yeast Bank

I am to the point where i need/want to start a yeast bank. I've read several yeast propagation methods here, but haven't seen anything like what i am thinking of doing. The big worry is contamination. I've put new wort on cake from my primary and it worked fine, but it seems risky since i dont' have a way of knowing if the beer i just took off the primary is infected. (I'm on my 17th batch and have not had anything infected yet that i can tell - so i fear i am due.)

Anyhow, here is what i was thinking and I will appreciate any feedback i can get.

I have a package of Wyeast propagator. I was going to make a starter solution of dry malt boiled 30 min with some hops, put around 6oz of that into 6 bottles, pitch some of the Wyeast propagator into each bottle and put air locks on them and let them get going to the point where they ferment and settle and store them like that in the fridg.

Then, i figure that when i want to use the yeast in each one i will just poor off most of the beer, (and most likely drink it), swirl the rest and dump it into a new starter and let it get going and then pitch it into a new batch of 5gal of wort.

Concerns: I am worried i won't have enough yeast for the batch. I'm trying to avoid multiple steps.

I like the idea of washing yeast, but don't like the fact that i don't have a way of knowing if that washed yeast is infected until the brew it came from is ready to try.

I don't like the idea of slants bcs i am trying to avoid the multiple steps of getting the volume of yeast to where it needs to be to pitch into 5-6 gal.

Further - i figure i can keep my yeast bank growing by taking one of the propagated bottles and pouring that into 6 new bottles of new wort.

Any thoughts/suggestions???

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Old 04-03-2010, 12:21 PM   #2
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Jamil just did a podcast on this very topic. Check the brewing network.

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Old 04-03-2010, 02:37 PM   #3
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There are some good threads on here as well. The easiest way to get more out of your yeast is to look at the Yeast Washing Illustrated sticky. If you want to start getting even more out of it, check out the Guide to Making a Frozen Yeast Bank. Or if that's not for you due to not having a good enough freezer, check out slanting (sorry I have no links for those threads, but I know they're out there)

My suggestion is to start with washing, as that's the easiest of the steps and you'll be surprised at how much yeast you truly harvest. If that's not enough though, go for freezing or slanting. I went with freezing first, and now I'm realizing that I could have definitely gotten away with just washing. I do plan on purchasing one of each type of yeast per year that I use regularly, just to keep everything "fresh".

Hope it helps.

-Arch

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Old 04-03-2010, 05:18 PM   #4
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thanks to both. I'll check this info out.

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Old 04-03-2010, 06:54 PM   #5
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+1 on Yeast Washing...great way to cleanse before repitching.

My frozen yeast bank contains upwards of 20 15mL vials of each yeast I've used so far (about five strains). The only down fall is creating step starters prior to pitching, so that takes more planning in advance for brew days...I struggle with this, however you may not.

If going frozen, it's suggested that one only uses yeast from a fresh vial/propogator/smackpack via a starter. Lessens possibility of contamination and ensures healthy yeast (not tired or worn out).

FWIW, I've frozen some WLP001 harvested from a primary with success. Just more risky.

Good luck and don't be deterred by the processes you research. Your wallet will thank you.

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Old 04-03-2010, 07:19 PM   #6
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Hey Shaggyt - you kind of hit the nail on the head... it is the planning that i'm not much into and what i was trying to avoid...

I'm going to take a serious look at washing. seems to be the simplest for now.

Is the reason most people wash the yeast from the primary bcs there is more yeast?? seems like the yeast in the secondary would have less troub. Obviously, there is less yeast, but if it is a bit cleaner, that might make things easier.

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Old 04-04-2010, 12:27 AM   #7
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The yeast in the primary is healthier (less stress) than the secondary.
Also, the yeast in secondary is less flocculant and it may take longer for your beer to clear if you keep harvesting from secondary.

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Old 04-04-2010, 12:57 AM   #8
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Don't worry about the "cleanliness" of the yeast from the primary. Once you get the hang of washing it doesn't matter how much crap is in the bottom of the fermenter -- you'll end up with nice creamy yeast in your mason jars at the end of the process.

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Old 04-04-2010, 01:30 AM   #9
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Ok. i understand. cool. I'm psyched to do my first wash. I have a german ale that is going to the secondary soon. It'll be my first try.

I'm still kind of stumped what to do with my bag of Wyeast American Ale Propagator 1056? I'd like to turn it into enough yeast to brew 5 or 10 times (or unlimited # of times), without doing slants. (I'd like to do that in the future after all i have read, but not yet.)

I'm still having a thought of making some starter CP style, putting 6oz in bottles, putting in "some"??? of the package of propagator in each bottle and letting it go. I worry that i am going to have a bit of a mess or not enough yeast produced and will need a very multi step starter which i was trying to avoid as i do not yet have a stir plate and the necessary breading equipment. Or, i guess i could just get lucky and get it just right... but i need some advice on how to get lucky with this.

Any thoughts on this?

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Old 04-04-2010, 02:09 AM   #10
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Basically you should be able to get enough yeast to brew 5-10 batches from a wash. I'd just use it in a nice 1.040 gravity brew -- paying EXTRA attention to sanitation -- and wash it at the end into four 1-quart mason jars. After you've washed it, combine the yeast into one mason jar for easier storage. When you need to brew, take out about 1-2 Tbsp of yeast from the bottom of the jar and make a starter. So far it seems to work well for me.

I use my harvest date as the production date and use the mrmalty.com pitching rate calculator. I figure the vials from White Labs have about 15 ml (~1 Tbsp) of yeast in them. I've done a bunch of brews this way. It's easier than freezing or slanting.

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