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Old 11-08-2011, 12:21 AM   #1
tallgirl
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Default Coping with non-floculating yeast

I making a batch of a dark ale from a yeast I "found" in a bottle of a Belgian style ale -- Zon, for anyone who knows the beer.

Zon (with a "long o" symbol over the "o") is an unfiltered beer, and I wanted to try knocking off the recipe myself. I drank all but perhaps a few tablespoons, then grew a starter on cane sugar and yeast vitamins, then split a couple pounds of DME into two one gallon fermenters. OG was enough for about a 4 or 5 percent ABV finish.

My problem is that I only have experience with bottom-fermenting and floculating yeasts, not with something that refuses to behave itself and settle out already, d@mnit.

I added Sparkeloid to one of the gallons and seem to have messed things up -- the yeasties are happily floating around the beer, with a fair number on top, and large chunks in not-so-on-the-top, and so on. In the past I've used Sparkeloid with great success, including on wines with serious pectin haze, but this gallon seems like it's going to be a loss if I can't get this problem resolved.

Help! I'm not a n00b to brewing in general, but this seems like a totally n00bish mistake.

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Old 11-08-2011, 12:27 AM   #2
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I could be wrong but a few tablespoons of the remaining beer in one bottle seems like it isn't anywhere close to enough yeast. I would think (as I haven't done this I am only guessing) that if you collect and rinse yeast from commercial unfiltered beer, you would need a lot more than that

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Old 11-08-2011, 12:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h22lude View Post
I could be wrong but a few tablespoons of the remaining beer in one bottle seems like it isn't anywhere close to enough yeast. I would think (as I haven't done this I am only guessing) that if you collect and rinse yeast from commercial unfiltered beer, you would need a lot more than that
It was plenty enough -- both gallons have completed primary fermentation and produced otherwise drinkable beers. The gallon without Sparkeloid is ready for bottling and secondary fermentation, it's the gallon =with= that's causing me fits.

With experience, you can make a starter from just about nothing. The key is to be absolutely meticulous in your sanitation. Not that "backwash" or "beer spit" is all that sanitary, but if you have the right technique, you can get a very pure colony that's suitable for pitching. The purity of the colony wasn't the problem -- the yeast is a species that doesn't floculate in the first place. That's part of what the entire "Belgian" thing is all about.

Remember that beer was invented by accident thousands of years ago, and that some beers are made using airborne wild yeast. My "bad beer experience" years ago seems to have involved airborne yeast colonizing a batch that I =hadn't= been as sanitary as I should have been.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:41 PM   #4
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I tossed both bottles in the fridge and the yeasties FINALLY made it to the bottom. I'm used to fermenting in 5 gallon carboys and totally forgot that I could make them go to sleep with a nice chilling.

Both gallons are looking closer to "normal", but I can tell there is still a fair bit more yeast above the sludge than normal. Which is to be expected, given how the beer was when bottled.

Should have some kind of report to make in a few weeks when Turkey Day rolls around. Then I need to find some extract or other to try again and come up with a recipe to share.

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