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Old 08-01-2010, 03:49 PM   #1
spriolo
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Default Collecting Yeast from a bottle of beer.

I decided to try and collect yeast from a bottle of Bells Two Hearted Ale. It's by far the favorite in my family and it makes since to pull the yeast and start tinkering with it.

I'm fully aware that Two Hearted Ale (THA) is a bigger beer and other Bells products may or may not have a better sample of the Bells yeast... but I'd like to find that out for myself.
  • I sorted through a six pack and found a bottle that had a decent layer of sediment (by the way, THA has almost NO sediment in most bottles...)
  • After spraying everything and everyone within 100 yards with Iodophor Sanitizer. I opened the bottle and poured off the ale and left behind 1/4 inch of sediment slurry in the bottom of the bottle.
  • While I enjoyed the decanted THA I boiled up 2 cups of wort at 1.030 gravity. As soon as I had about 15 minutes into the boil I started cooling the tiny wort sample
  • Once I had the wort cooled (75*F) I poured 1/2 of it into the waiting sediment slurry bottle and swirled it around.
  • I then gathered up my sanitized culturing vessel (an old glass pickle jar with a wide mouth.. sandwich stacker from the cooler section LOL). And then, poured the rest of the cooled wort plus the swirled sediment from the bottle into the pickle jar.
  • I slapped a piece of sanitized foil over the top of the culturing vessel and gave the whole thing a nice swirl.
  • I happened to have an old PC fan and magnet set so I assembled a bare bones stir plate and set the sample on top

After 12 hours, I saw the slightest amount of bubbles on top of the wort and the once clean wort seemed very cloudy (suspended yeast).

After 24 hours, I pulled the pickle jar off of the ghetto stir plate and let it rest for a few hours. I boiled up 2 more cups of wort at 1.030 and poured off as much spent wort as possible (watching for even the slightest amount of sediment in the pour stream). After I was satisfied with the amount I decanted off the top, I poured 2 more cups of cooled wort over the still thin, but very present yeast slurry.

Hopefully I can step it up (I have a 1500mL mason jar) and have enough for my next batch.

If you have experience with this type of thing, how long has it taken you to increase your yeast from a thin line of sediment to 1/2 cup of thick slurry (recommended by mr. malty)?


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Old 08-01-2010, 05:06 PM   #2
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You're doing the same as I used to do 30 years ago, except I didn't have a stir plate, and I used an airlock (instead of tin foil). It used to take me about 7 - 10 days to get enough yeast to pitch (but mr. malty wasn't around then to recommend 1/2 cup slurry).
With your improvements (stir plate and tin foil), you should be able to step it up enough within less than 7 days.
If I were to do it now, I'd do the first starter with a volume of 4 - 6 fl oz, and then about 3 - 4 days later, step it up to the full volume without decanting anything. (Decanting will throw away a considerable amount of your most active yeast.)

Good luck,

-a.


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Old 08-01-2010, 05:35 PM   #3
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Your yeast is 30 years old?

((just kidding))
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:12 PM   #4
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2 cups is a lot more than I would use to build up from a bottle. It sounds like it worked out for you, but making the initial step smaller would probably save time.

I would typically go with something like 50 mL, 200 mL, 500 mL, then whatever volume I need for the beer. I start 10-12 days ahead of time to make sure I have time to ferment out each stage, and decant the final starter.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:58 PM   #5
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Looks like I started with too much wort on the first step. Also, a10t2, would you agree with ajf that decanting between the step ups is a waste of effort and yeast?

Only decant after you have a nice healthy colony?
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Old 08-02-2010, 12:09 AM   #6
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According to MB Raines http://maltosefalcons.com/tech/yeast...-and-practices.
Starting with a slant (which contains much less yeast than you will harvest from a bottle), she starts with 10 ml starter, and will then step that up by a factor of up to 200.
One advantage of a large step up is that there will only be a very small amount of spent wort from the initial starter, so any off flavors will be minimized
I always pitch the entire starter into the beer if the starter size is less than or equal to 1 qt for a 5 g batch, but chill, decant, and just pitch the slurry if it is greater.

-a.
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spriolo View Post
Looks like I started with too much wort on the first step. Also, a10t2, would you agree with ajf that decanting between the step ups is a waste of effort and yeast?
Ideally, I would decant at each stage, if for no other reason than to remove the alcohol. It isn't really practical until you get up to maybe 500 mL though. Like ajf said, below that you can't do it without discarding yeast.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:43 PM   #8
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ajf, that is a great article.

So far what I've learned is that with a stir plate (even a simple scrappy one that doesn't work all that well) the yeast seem to be far more efficient. The idea of "set it and forget it" with starting from a bottle does not apply when using a stir plate. Some articles I've seen suggest that you shake the bottle occasionally and leave it for 2-3 days at a time. I'm certain that the yeast would be fine, but it would take you 10-12 days to step up a colony.

I've noticed that with a stir plate I'm tinkering with it every 12 hours or so. At this point I've got 1000mL and it looks like it's done for this stage (I'm only 1 1/2 days into culturing yeast for next weekend's brew). The 1000mL (4 cups) is due to the fact that I decanted once in between stages in the beginning, but did not decant when I went from 2 cups to 4 cups.

I might step up 4 more cups, leave it for 12 hours, and then put the entire thing into the fridge until brew day. Then I can decided at that point how much to decant since it should be all settled out.

Another thing to consider when watching the clock is how aggressive the yeast is. Other threads on homebrewtalk.com have suggested that Bells Yeast it is very aggressive with very high attenuation. Maybe this is a major factor in "how long does it take". A slower yeast that is probably just as good might take 18 or 20 hours between step ups.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:16 PM   #9
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I've got my Two Hearted Ale slurry volume ready for pitching. I'm going to run over to the LHBS and buys some grain. It's brew time!
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:13 PM   #10
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Throw it in the fridge for a few minutes just prior to decanting. It'll help settle the yeast to the bottom, but be careful not to keep it in there for too long. Anything below five minutes should be enough time to settle the yeast and not risk shocking them.


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