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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Sanitary cultivation of yeast from the bottle
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:52 PM   #1
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Default Sanitary cultivation of yeast from the bottle

So I just attempted to do a stepped yeast starter cultivated from Heady Topper dregs. I collected the dregs from 5 or so cans and kept them in the bottom of the first can. I would pour my beer into a glass, then the last bit of the beer into the can, cover it with tin foil, and left it in the refrigerator. After about 2 weeks I had enough dregs and began the starter. Everything seemed to be going well until I took a sniff after about a day and was immediately aware of a sour acrid smell. I tried a small sample and sure enough it was infected with something wild. I dumped it out, but I'm trying to figure out the best way to make a starter with my remaining 4 pack. I imagine that I must have picked up the infection when I transfered the dregs from one can to the other along with the extended stay in the refrigerator. Would it be best to start a very weak starter with a single can and add to the starter with the dregs of more cans as I drink them? I suppose I should have sprayed the tops of the cans with starsan before pouring the beer, I will do this next time. Any other suggestions? Thanks!


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Old 09-02-2013, 03:48 PM   #2
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:28 PM   #3
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Never done this, but the one thing that came to mind is the one you already suggested - sanitizing the cans before opening. Good luck!
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:42 PM   #4
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Whenever I do a step starter I take a lighter to the lip of the bottles prior to pouring them into a glass and immediately recap them. I'll also flame the lip of the bottle prior to pitching into starter wort.

I'd suppose with a can you'd do the same thing, and make sure to sanitize the foil as well. If you have any ball jars it'd be worth making smaller step starters first...drink 2 cans of HT and pitch the dregs into a 1/2 cup or so starter that night instead of keeping them around for a week or two.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:26 PM   #5
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Just build it up from a single can. The more you transfer, wait, expose to elements, etc, the more risk involved. Prepare a malt starter and simply pot the dregs into that - in a sanitary container like a glass jar with lid, of course. Once that fermented out, do it again and again until you have a decent amount of slurry. A half cup our more will likely be enough for your version of the beer.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:36 PM   #6
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I will second SSLocal's advice: I needed a Wyeast 1728 starter, and, like a noob, had tossed the entire primary batch of yeast from an earlier LME batch(no trub, pure yeast!!!). Damn! That beer was started Oct '12, aged till June 22, '13. Took a chance: saved the small amt. of carbonating yeast from a single bottle, and stepped it up a coupla three times. The resulting beer is ready to be bottled, and smells good.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:44 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice everybody. Yesterday I scrubbed and boiled my 2L flask to make sure nothing else was living in there, I prepared a small amount of 1.040 wort (boiled everything) sanitized then flamed the lip of a Heady Topper can before pouring most of it into a glass and the remainder into the flask. We'll see if I can get the yeast to work its magic this time without anything wild interfering!
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:30 PM   #8
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So I'm now on my FOURTH ATTEMPT and I seem to still get a slight tart smell from the starter after a day or two... Could this just be how it smells as a starter? or is something wild still getting in... I know its impossible to tell without swab testing it on an agar plate and getting all scientific... but does this sound right to anyone? Heady Topper is NOT a tart beer, and I've made many successful starters on my stirplate before (though no bottle clones), but none of them have smelled like this...
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:35 PM   #9
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When I harvest, I always streak for isolation. But, sanitation wise, here is what I do:

1) Always work under a flame.

2) I spray/wipe the bottle/can top with 70% alcohol.

3) I flame the alcohol-sprayed top.

4) If I need an opener, I spray it with alcohol and flame it.

5) Once I open the beer, I spray with alcohol again and flame.

6) Once I pour out most of the beer (leaving a little for sediment resuspension), I spray the bottle top/can with alcohol and flame it again.

7) I pour the dregs into a sterile tube.

8) I plate using sterile cell spreaders.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:45 PM   #10
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thanks for the tips biobrewer. I'll let the batch finish up on the stir plate, just in case the tart flavor is coming from the starter being a warmly fermented, no hop wort. but otherwise, if it doesn't work out, I'll be getting super anal about sterilizing my cans before adding to yet another starter!


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