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Old 02-20-2011, 02:24 PM   #1
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Default wondering about yeast

I've just started using liquid yeasts and I'm about to do my first starter. I had a thought, and thought I'd toss it out to either go forward or for someone to point out it's fallacy.

When I do a 1L yeast starter and let it set for a bit and the yeasties start to multiply, just before I pitch it into the wert, what if I were to return the starting volume to the vial and refrigerate. How long could I continue to do this? Would I be able to get a year or so out of a single vial?

Would I be better off washing and collecting several pt sized starters after fermentation, if so why?

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Old 02-20-2011, 02:31 PM   #2
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The yeast will mutate. The more generations of yeast there are the more mutations there will be. You spent money on buying a specific yeast. You want to keep it that way. It would be better to save a bit of the yeast before you made the starter. Using the yeast from the starter is 1st generation. If you keep using that 1st generation you would be safe to assume that you have the same yeast. There are quite a few good methods, for maintaining a yeast bank, well documented on this site. Try a search for yeast bank, and yeast freezing.

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Old 02-20-2011, 02:31 PM   #3
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The method you are describing sounds like there will be a huge amount of bacterial contamination building up over the succesive generations. There are a few tried and true methods for long-term culturing of brewing yeasts, here is a rough overview of lifespan:

Washed yeasts: ~6 months
Malt Agar slants in the fridge: ~1 year
Yeast frozen with Glycerine in deep freezer: ~2-3 years
Resting yeast stored in RO water: ~5years??

Whichever method you choose, you will need to reculture after a certain point. Let us know if you want more information.

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Old 02-20-2011, 03:14 PM   #4
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I make a starter and pitch it into the wort. I wouldn't like to try saving yeast for the next brew at this point as that would reduce the amount of yeast I can pitch, and the small amount of yeast I could collect at that stage would not be the equivalent of a fresh sample of yeast.
After the brew has fermented for 3 - 4 weeks, I keg, leaving a large amount of yeast and trub behind. (Effectively, the brew acts as a 5.25g starter).
I then collect the yeast/trub, wash it, and end up with enough yeast for another 4 batches. (I could collect more yeast than that, but I don't think it is worth it.)
I then can make another 4 brews without buying more yeast. Each of those 4 brews gives me enough yeast for another 4 brews (resulting in 21 batches from the one package of yeast). I occasionally collect enough yeast for 5 brews, and although I usually discard the yeast after the 3rd generation, I sometimes go for a fourth. This gives me enough yeast to last me about 6 months.
For beers that I only brew very occasionally (less than once every 6 months), I don't bother to harvest the yeast.
I used to go for 5 - 6 generations using yeasts that I cultured from a bottle (before I could get good liquid yeast), but had occasional problems after about 4 or 5 generations.

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Old 02-20-2011, 03:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunfighter04 View Post
When I do a 1L yeast starter and let it set for a bit and the yeasties start to multiply, just before I pitch it into the wert, what if I were to return the starting volume to the vial and refrigerate. How long could I continue to do this? Would I be able to get a year or so out of a single vial?
I do that, but I store it in 8 ozs mason jars. I let it settle out and replace the wort/beer in the jar with distilled water. It will keep for a year in the fridge. Sanitation is extremely important.

I harvest yeast cakes and brew several beers from the initial starter, but don't want every beer to be from that yeast, so eventually I stop using it. When I decide I want to use that yeast again, I make a new starter from the original saved yeast, and then save a little more.

It can take 5 years to get through 5 generations.
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