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Old 05-05-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
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Default Washing yeast - from which gravity beers?

Hi everyone,

I am just curious if there is any reason why NOT to wash the yeast from my IPAs and IIPAs due to their above average gravity levels.
I know you can end up stressing your yeast by underpitching on a higher gravity beer, but as long as my ptch rate was correct I should be able to wash the yeast from even a 1.075 OG beer... I think.

Is this correct or incorrect?

Your wisdom is always much appreciated!

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Old 05-05-2010, 08:39 PM   #2
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If you are actually washing your yeast, you should be okay for at least another batch or two. If all you are doing is repitching on the yeast cake, you'll need to repitch something else with a high gravity methinks (but I could be totally wrong).

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Old 05-06-2010, 03:00 AM   #3
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Thanks, I was thinking about washing and not pitching on the cake.... I am not a fan of doing the pitching on the old yeast cake, I prefer to use a clean carboy (paranoid, maybe).

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Old 05-06-2010, 03:24 AM   #4
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You run the risk that your yeast will not properly attenuate and/or they will produce off flavors as a result of the stress.

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Old 05-06-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster View Post
You run the risk that your yeast will not properly attenuate and/or they will produce off flavors as a result of the stress.
Thanks, Apache... are you referring to pitching on the cake, or washing yeast from high gravity beers?
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Old 05-06-2010, 06:45 PM   #6
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The issue with collecting yeast form high gravity beers is that the yeast have been sitting in an environment that is high alcohol, which is toxic to the yeast despite the fact that they CAUSED the environment. As the alcohol content increases in a big beer, more and more yeast will die off leaving only a select group of yeast that have a high alcohol tolerance. The problem here is that the yeast you will harvest from these batches may not be the same as the yeast you started with and that'll give you inconsistent fermentation results from batch to batch.

If you're looking to save yeast I would recommend making a 1L or 2L starter, harvest that and then use the harvested yeast to make starters for your beer. I've had a lot of success doing this myself and it certainly stretches that $6/vial for liquid yeast.

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Old 05-07-2010, 03:50 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gremlyn1 View Post
The issue with collecting yeast form high gravity beers is that the yeast have been sitting in an environment that is high alcohol, which is toxic to the yeast despite the fact that they CAUSED the environment. As the alcohol content increases in a big beer, more and more yeast will die off leaving only a select group of yeast that have a high alcohol tolerance. The problem here is that the yeast you will harvest from these batches may not be the same as the yeast you started with and that'll give you inconsistent fermentation results from batch to batch.

If you're looking to save yeast I would recommend making a 1L or 2L starter, harvest that and then use the harvested yeast to make starters for your beer. I've had a lot of success doing this myself and it certainly stretches that $6/vial for liquid yeast.
Ahh ok this is the info I was looking for. Thanks for clearing that up! Well, I typically use dry yeast only (unless I want to pay about 25$ for 1 single vial of liquid to be shipped to me), so maybe I will pass on harvesting this time around. I need to make a batch of good old American ale with us-05 soon, so I will do so and harvest away. I pay up to $4 a package, and I am cheap AND a control freak - so washing yeast is right up my alley.
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:35 PM   #8
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I heard alot and had fear instilled in me about not washing high gravity or high IBU yeast. So, I recently brewed a 1.095 100 IBU IIPA with pacman. I washed the yeast, I dumped one jar of washed yeast directly in a fat tire clone, it took it down to 1.012 and I mashed at 155! I then used that cake on a 1.095 RIS that I mashed at 156, the 4th generation yeast that has been through hell and back, took that down to 1.018.........

Take this for what it's worth.

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Old 05-07-2010, 04:14 PM   #9
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I heard alot and had fear instilled in me about not washing high gravity or high IBU yeast. So, I recently brewed a 1.095 100 IBU IIPA with pacman. I washed the yeast, I dumped one jar of washed yeast directly in a fat tire clone, it took it down to 1.012 and I mashed at 155! I then used that cake on a 1.095 RIS that I mashed at 156, the 4th generation yeast that has been through hell and back, took that down to 1.018.........

Take this for what it's worth.
No one is saying it just won't work or you won't get good results. The issue is that when you do it, the yeast you get out are likely not going to be exactly the same as the yeast you put in due to the selection for only the yeast with good high alcohol tolerance. Who knows, you could have created a variation of the Pacman you started with that is a great, novel strain. If you still have that yeast and it's been producing good beer, I would grow some up in a low gravity starter and save a bunch for future use.

The other issue is how many times you use it before it starts to differentiate itself from the original culture. The general rule of thumb is 5 washes before your strain will begin to diverge. Again, this isn't saying that what you get out on the other side will be bad, it just probably won't be what you started with and therefore will not produce consistent results.

At the home brew level, this may nor really matter to most people. I've spent enough years doing cell culture in the lab to have cell culture passaging ingrained in my brain. I've seen the effects many times of improperly culturing out a cell line that you want keep standardised. To me, brewing is all about being as consistent as possible. When you're consistent and something isn't as you expected (good or bad), you can pinpoint what's changed and figure out how to undo or reproduce it. Having good, fresh yeast cultures is one of the easy things we can do as home brewers to make sure we are consistent.
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Old 05-07-2010, 07:56 PM   #10
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I think my pacman yeast may be differentiating itself from the original, I am brewing high gravity beers with it and ferment at low temps, and it just eat the maltose up. I may have created (by accident) pacman high gravity!

I am pretty sure it is just pacman doing it's normal thing, but I love that yeast.

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