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Old 03-15-2013, 11:50 PM   #1
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Default What conditions cause autolysis - yeast death and rupture?

From another thread....

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Originally Posted by TANSTAAFB View Post
Just wondering if you've ever tasted autolysis flavors in your beer?
Hmm, I thought I had, but maybe it was something else.

Quote:
I have read about it in the older brewing books but most folks seem to consider it a boogie man now. I have left brews in the primary on the yeast cake for months and never noticed any I'll effects, but would be really interested in first hand accounts of those rubbery meaty off flavors! Don't want to hijack the OP's post, but I don't want to scare him with something he doesn't have to worry about either.
I should try an experiment. If it is an actual occurrence, it should be able to be duplicated, right?

I have a friend who is well read on beer in general, he mentioned it to me. He described it and I thought I tasted something in a beer we tested.

I'd like to challenge him. What are guaranteed conditions for autolysis?

Below, he didn't place anything under a microscope, or do any other testing:

John Palmer

Enzymes in the body:

Post mortem decay

OK, What does my batch have to do to insure autolysis?

No other living organisms, just the fun juices inside the yeast cells decaying.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:45 AM   #2
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Glad you didn't take offense to my post and thrilled with the experimental approach! Slainte!

Autolysis was a real and disgusting problem for brewers back in the day when they were peeling dry yeast packets of unknown heritage off of old cans of malt extract of equally suspect provenance. It was standard practice to rack to a secondary ASAP after active fermentation had finished. We, however, have access to ingredients arguably as fresh or fresher than the big boys. As I said in the other thread, I leave beers on the cake for at least 3-4 weeks and quite often longer. I leave cider for months. And I do this without hesitation because of feedback from many folks with way more experience here at HBT.

I think conditions for the experiments would be A) a fairly simple beer brewed with healthy yeast left for a very long time in the primary. You could pull samples at month increments and taste. It would help to have someone who knew what autolysis off flavors would taste like. Condition B) could be the same beer (split batch?) brewed with stressed, unhealthy yeast. Maybe really old dry yeast or a repitch from a huge hoppy beer. Pull samples at the same time. You could always throw in more variables such as aeration or wort strength. What do you think?

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:56 AM   #3
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Not sure of a good way to do it, but I've heard an increase in pressure is one reason big brewers see autolysis and homebrewers do not. There is so much in a tank that there is an appreciable amount of pressure on the yeast at the bottom. I just don't know a good way to increase pressure (can't just use CO2 because it would not only increase variables, but it would go into solution).

We need an isostatic press!

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:58 AM   #4
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Not sure if it's exactly the same with ale yeasts, but if autolysis in brewing is anything like autolysis in champaigne making, this experiment could take a while. Total yeast autolysis is essential to making a champaigne and the process can take from 5 to 10 years to complete.

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Old 03-16-2013, 02:37 PM   #5
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Well, as I'm siting here this morning reflecting a little. My homebrew ends up with a little yeast cake in the bottom of the bottle. This doesn't seem to make any difference at all. Does this have something to do with proportion/critical mass? I personally left a carboy for more than 6 weeks in primary.

The other thread I was actually trying to help, but yeah - was I conjuring a Boogey-man that only comes out in murky nights where it is industrial brew with deep tanks, someone capping their fermentor too tight, someone setting their carboy too close to the boiler in the basement furnace area... etc.

TANSTAAFB Funny thing that you mention the funky old "yeast packets of unknown heritage off of old cans of malt extract of equally suspect provenance". That is what we were tasting. A guy had tried to revive an old kit. He brought it in for opinions. It wasn't that bad, just very mildly meaty. I think he had really limited means. We told him to put in a little carbing sugar and bottle it.

freisste In engineering, we refer to that as "head pressure" I believe.

More_Hops_Please I'm thinking it can be done with extra warmth too, from the small amount I've read so far. I don't want to tie up my on-and-only carboy for a long time. How about a liter bottle with a really disproportionately large amount of yeast?

I don't have deep pockets to do a whole 5 gallon batch of something - that if my experiment works - I'm going to flush down the wash sink with a bleach chaser either.

Could I do a small batch and have it get where I'm heading? I have 12 gallons of my bitter fermenting right now. I could cull a liter and not miss it. From what I can tell though, my beer stays extremely well in bottles.

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Old 03-16-2013, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by More_Hops_Please View Post
Not sure if it's exactly the same with ale yeasts, but if autolysis in brewing is anything like autolysis in champaigne making, this experiment could take a while. Total yeast autolysis is essential to making a champaigne and the process can take from 5 to 10 years to complete.
Really? That is interesting. Is that part of the whole flavor/aroma experience.

It sounds contrary.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:53 PM   #7
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This is one of those things that could def take a while. It is a true concern of commercial brewers,since they have the weight of 100's of barrels of beer sitting on top of all that trub & settled yeast. That's another reason they try to ferment them out quickly. The bright tank or secondary is concequently very usefull in getting the beer off the yeast for them. It'd be tough to duplicate on our scale of brewing.
I'm not sure old yeast will work either. Maybe under the "wrong" conditions,if you will. I've used 2 year old yeast...even 3 year old yeast accidentally. But I rehydrated them & they worked just fine. So maybe try pitching old yeast dry would do it. Rehydrating them in the wort would make for weaker cell walls vs strengthening them by rehydrating.

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Old 03-16-2013, 02:53 PM   #8
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Who would have thought, heavy breathing and stainless steel....


I was thinking of ways to make a hydraulic press. Something with a seal and a weight on one end of a hose - leading to sealed bottle. A five gallon bucket with a rubber bladder and a CMU block set on a plywood circle smashing down the bladder.

This would then place added pressure on the bottle contents.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
So maybe try pitching old yeast dry would do it. Rehydrating them in the wort would make for weaker cell walls vs strengthening them by rehydrating.
I was wondering if there was an under-pitch factor going on maybe. The yeast were stressed from starting with not enough survivors in the packet. ?

Re-hydrating with a little fermentable would give a higher pitch rate too, right?
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynachrome View Post
Really? That is interesting. Is that part of the whole flavor/aroma experience.

It sounds contrary.
Yeah, autolysis creates much of the unique flavor of a well aged champaigne(as opposed to a "sparkling wine" where autolysis is absent). Given that champaigne yeast is different than ale yeast, I'm not sure how similar the molecular chemicals involved would be to autolysis in a brew. There are a lot of things you look for in wine making(tanin for instance) that you don't want anywhere near your beer.

I just figured looking at the autolysis process in champaigne might give you an idea of what time scale you'll be working with.
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