A Wyeast 3724 Story

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I am making my first Saison, and using Wyeast 3724 for the first time. With a goal to bottle 24 pints and minimize trub, I lately scale recipes to 4.0 gallons post-boil and ferment in a 3-gallon carboy plus some extra in a clear 0.5 gallon growler, merging the two either at bottling time or in a secondary.

I hadn't harvested yeast before, or made a yeast starter before, but decided to try yeast rinsing per the illustrated technique at this post Yeast Washing Illustrated so that it would be possible to make some additional Saison batches as time permits.

The Wyeast 3724 packet was within three weeks of its Best-if-Used-by-Date, and I had a way to heat the fermentation space, so I got started Wednesday (4/7). The 3724 packet was in the fermentation space at 70F for about five hours, and it was quite active, swelling to more than double in size. After the boil, I got the wort to about the same temperature and transferred it to the 3-gallon and 0.5-gallon fermenters. It was tricky pitching just a few teaspoons of the slurry from the packet into the growler, but I got everything done and safely in the fermentation space with airlock or blow-off setups.

Based on good advice from, I think, VikeMan [or @VikeMan, (not sure how to reference)], I started fermentation at 70F then ramped up after fermentation started. Instead of over a week, I ramped up the temperature to the upper 70s or 80 over four days. Fermentation looked good by day two, but then slowed as expected.

On day four (4/11) I transferred the two fermenters' contents into one sanitized 3-gallon carboy. Then I rinsed the leftovers (from just the 3-gal.) per the rinsing technique which went well.

To experiment with making a starter, on day four I also made about 3/4 of a quart of wort with a quart of boiling water and 2.5 ounces of extra light dried malt extract following these simple instructions: How To Make a Yeast Starter (OG 1.040) - Brewer's Friend . To about 5/8 quart of the cooled wort, I pitched about 3/4 cup of the leftover yeast slurry from the rinsing process.

Part of my thinking of making the starter was to have extra of the 3724 yeast to add to the secondary fermenter if needed. The temperature is set to 83F now on day five (4/12), and fermentation is more active now compared to yesterday. The additional yeast from the starter may not be needed after all.

See attached images; everybody seems to be doing fine. The string on the 1-liter bottle I'm using for the starter is because I am having a terrible time keeping stoppers from backing out. The heating element is a 12" x 24" heating pad set on high and controlled by a temperature controller.
 

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thefigure5
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I have had excellent results harvesting yeast without rinsing. I have read several people that know a lot more about yeast than I do talk about how leaving yeast under beer is a much better environment than water. See: Simple Yeast Storage Procedure with Photos
That's an informative write up. I've seen in the forums that people use the yeast cake from one batch as the starter for the next with success. It sounds like keeping the cake with a little beer for later use works too.
 

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