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Advice for Setting Up a Homebrew Club Yeast Exchange

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andrewrmunro

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I am a member of my local homebrew club and was thinking it would be a good idea to start some sort of yeast bank or exchange for club members. Has other clubs done this? Any tips or advice on how to organize and structure it and any guidelines would be appreciated, or examples of how others have done it.

Also, if anybody thinks this would be a bad idea please let me know why.
 
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Stand

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Sounds like an awesome idea. I started freezing yeast this year because I use so many strains.

You probably want a standardized process for everyone to agree on and use so you have a consistent trade.

Vial size?
generation of source?
Sanitation practices?
Freezing practice?
Freezing at all?
 

CascadesBrewer

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It is an interesting concept. I harvest yeast by capturing slurry into jars. One 5 gal batch yields plenty of yeast for 4 or 5 more batches, so I 1) tend to have more yeast than I need (and I end up dumping yeast or jars) and 2) would be interesting in trying out more yeasts without having to spend $8+ per pack. That said, I would have to have a solid confidence in the quality of yeast I was getting from somebody else before I would be willing to pitch it into a 5 gal batch.
 

Stand

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Process is pretty simple, but if you're doing it with a club and you have an agreed-upon method you can probably trust anyone that can make good beer to be able to overbuild a starter.
 

SoCal-Doug

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I slant and trade, and recently mentioned the same thing in one of the clubs I belong too. Of maybe 100 people, 5 might have been seriously interested. Of those 5, maybe 2 or 3 I would trust to create a clean sample that I would risk a batch on, or re-slant to store. It takes a little more nerd-factor and cleanliness OCD than the basic brewer may want to deal with. It's not difficult or expensive, but to achieve long term storage and proper re-buildup, it needs to be done right. Cold storage agar slants are the best bet. Just putting trub from the fermenter in the fridge isn't going to remain viable for long periods.

My opinion is definitely do your own bank! Make 2 or 3 slants of each yeast you use. It can save money and headache in the long run. I started because I was having to buy a lot of old yeasts that required a hellova starter to bring back to life. I figured if I have to do life support starters all the time anyway, screw it, bank my own and stop paying for it.

Find others that bank their own and offer up a trade list. If someone is interested in it, teach them how to do it. But always remember the risks involved. You wont know when someone says "meh, it's clean enough. I dont need to sterilize that" and you wind up with an unexpected sour.

Sometimes when friends are brewing and using a yeast that I want to add to the bank, I ask them if i can steal a drop of their yeast when they first open the package. I bring over an inoculation loop, a slant and my alcohol burner and heist it :)
 

Stand

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I think the slant process probably would be hard to convince people to do, although it seems to offers the best long term answer if you've got the know-how.

I'm doing 50ML vials instead because the process is simpler on both sides. Storage isn't as long-term, but it's probably an easier process to teach people. The result isn't quite the same as a White Labs vial, but the procedure for making a starter from a 50ML vial is MUCH closer to the process people are already familiar with.

The only part that's really any different from normal starter procedures is pressure-cooking glycerine/water solution (I do it in a quart mason jar). I step up my starters as well to give it a softer landing, but I'm not sure it's necessary.

Since it's taken from the starter and you're freezing it with a pretty large quantity of yeast it seems like there's less chance for things to go wrong and I"ve had no issues.

I'd just make sure you simplify the process as much as possible if you've got to teach it to your club. Hell, why not do a tutorial at a club meeting on yeast-banking? Wait until the next meeting after you teach it and propose your idea on yeast-exchanging. The people who have DONE it and learned the process will probably be the people you want anyway. Save yourself some grief.
 
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HB2 HughBHomeBrew

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It is an interesting concept. I harvest yeast by capturing slurry into jars. One 5 gal batch yields plenty of yeast for 4 or 5 more batches, so I 1) tend to have more yeast than I need (and I end up dumping yeast or jars) and 2) would be interesting in trying out more yeasts without having to spend $8+ per pack. That said, I would have to have a solid confidence in the quality of yeast I was getting from somebody else before I would be willing to pitch it into a 5 gal batch.
Worried about your beer sleeping with everyone else’s beer? [emoji6]
 
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