Yeast washing and Finings
I've tried searching for this info...there's a couple of similar threads (link Link linky yet another) with essentially the exact same question (how does the use of finings affect the process of yeast washing) ...AFAIK it's never adequately been answered -- lots of pretty valid suppositions/theories, etc. Has anyone actually done it or have any other real info? I had originally posted this on another board, but haven't gotten too many replies yet, so figured I'd put it up here too. Follows is my original post:
My RyePA is taking an inordinate amount of time to clear (which I don't seem to remember happening with this brew and yeast before), so I'm probably going to hit it with some finings. At the same time, I was planning on making this batch my first time trying out yeast washing/harvesting. Can anyone think of any reason why finings would affect this process, or have you had any experience harvesting yeast from a batch that had a fining agent added? I kind of figured the fining material would just settle out quickly with the rest of the trub during the washing process, but I figured someone before me has done this already and might know for sure... Does the fining bind to the yeast too much to make the washing technique work right?
In case it matters to anyone, the yeast is Wyeast 1272, and the fining agent I was planning on using is a combined packet (LiquorKleer) that has both chictosan and kieselsol which are added sequentially.
As an aside, if anyone has any ideas why a beer might not clear as readily as usual, I'd be up for hearing those as well...The only difference between this batch and previous ones of the same recipe is that this one was all grain. I've never had to even consider adding fining agents to a beer before (only used it on mead in the past).
Again, this will just be more supposition, but whenever I use finings, I almost always rack to secondary first; that way I leave 97% of the yeast and trub behind and the finings can really do their job and clear out that last 3%. It's worked well for me in the past and solves the issue of having finings in with the yeast cake (of course I have only used gelatin for fining soooo....).
I also have a Rye Pale Ale in the fermenter, so maybe I'll fine it this weekend and let you know how it goes.
Yeah...I'm trying to find a way to avoid having to do a racking to secondary as well! (I have generally been of the primary only camp of late.) I suppose I could avoid the issue by just racking to secondary for a day while doing the fining, but it's just one more step and additional cleaning of equipment (I'm a generally lazy, as hands off as I can be sort of brewer!)
Yeah, I generally don't secondary either, unless I'm dry hopping or fining... Maybe give it a try in the primary and then report back?
I'd be interested to know how the washing worked with finings.
I guess if I have to, I'll just do the experiment myself...
I've sent the following question directly to Wyeast through their website...I'll post any replies that come back:
I have some questions regarding the use of fining agents and what effect this may have on yeast if it is harvested to be reused on another batch.
If I were to use finings, then after racking, wash and collect the yeast pack, would the presence of finings inhibit this process (ie, would the yeast be difficult to separate from the rest of the trub)?
Also, if the yeast were collected, would the finings cause any negative effect when this yeast were used again? I would anticipate making a starter from the harvested yeast before repitching it in another batch.
I also sent the question to White Labs yesterday...they got back to me within a few hrs! As some people have mentioned, they also have concern that some viable yeast would be taken out of the picture by the finings; however, if a starter could be successfully be made from the wash, then it would be fine to make beer with...no ongoing worries after that. I still haven't heard back from Wyeast (boo...) Here's the White Labs reply:
Finings work by binding to the solids in the beer and causing them to
drop out of suspension. Binding yeast will limit its effectiveness so there
will be an effect on it's usefulness on a harvest, which is why most
professional brewers will harvest their yeast before fining the beer.
I would certainly recommend propping the yeast in a starter if you are
going to use finings before harvesting, just to be sure that the yeast is
still viable and you are able to get good growth. If so, then the yeast
should be OK to repitch into another batch.
Good luck and happy brewing!
UPDATE: I received a reply from Wyeast...here is the bulk of the e-mail:
I wanted to see if I could find some good technical literature (research) done on the topic. We have not done any research here on it. The main reason behind that is the industry wide (especially the fining people) immediate response of No... don't do it. Also, time is a factor here in the lab... as far as research goes, and that is not a topic we have chosen (yet) to look at.
All of that aside, I guess we can look at the basics. You are adding isinglass to make larger flocks of yeast... and probably trub and haze complexes. All of this stuff will be sitting on the bottom of the fermenter, from which you can harvest. I think the yeast fraction will still contain mostly yeast, as long as you harvest the top layer. This will also contain all of the fining material... This is the unknown for me: how does the isinglass material change or degrade over time? I don't know about this one and how it effects flavor of the second beer. I am guessing it will not have major adverse effects considering a lot of fined beers may sit with the finings in them for quite a while. But... typically they won't be going through the pH and temp changes involved with them as they pass through a second fermentation.
As for the yeast. I think it may not be a major issue, especially if it is not a chain forming yeast. The buds will separate from the flocks, etc. And, if you are making a starter, this will growth and separation will be even more prominent. Also, the pH change from finished beer to fresh wort will probably make the interactions between the yeast and isinglass weaker, maybe allowing for separation
Sorry it took so long.
I e-mailed back a couple follow up questions, so I'll add that information when I hear back.
I'm hopefully going to get a chance to bottle this pig and try the yeast harvest in the next few days...I'll post back how that turns out, and of course once I make a starter and re-use the yeast...
What do you think about this: if you wait until fermentation is complete (without racking to a secondary), then fine to remove the last few % of yeast from suspension, you would expect that only that small % of yeast are bound up in aggregates with the fining material, while the majority of yeast have formed fining-free flocks.
Depending on the size of the fining-flocks, washing may or may not preferentially remove these yeast, which happened to be less-flocculant. So, washing after fining may have no effect, or may make the next generation of yeast on average more flocculant and less attenuative.
Do you think that's right?
Well, it's been a month, but thanks drummstikk for reminding me...I've had the notice of the reply to this thread in my e-mail inbox since Thanksgiving, and of course it's been an extremely busy month!
I did indeed make starters from two different jars of the yeast harvested from the fined beer...they both grew fine...unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to actually make beer from the harvested yeast. My life/brewing schedule just didn't allow it at the time.
With the caveat that I never actually brewed beer with the yeast, I would say this technique IS viable. At the very least I can confirm you can make a very normal acting starter with yeast harvested after fining... The starter tasted normal (except as noted below), and I have no reason to think that it wouldn't have fermented a beer perfectly as well...
One thing I will say is that the starter wort smelled and tasted a little hoppier than I would have expected, even compared to regular harvested yeast; perhaps the finings somehow attracted and concentrated some of the hop compounds as well? So, if you were to use this technique, I would decant as much of the starter as possible to prevent any possible flavor contribution to your beer, especially the second beer wasn't a particularly hoppy one...
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