Burton Union trial run

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Jtvann

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I set up a burton union to collect some of the blow off yeast. I wanted to do a batch using the same yeast, but ran out of DME. I had a quart jar of the same yeast left over from the last time I over built my starter. I sanitized and dumped that quart jar into my 2L flask.

Only issue that I foresee is that there is too much sanitizer on top. It was just a few bubbles from when I filled and dumped initially.

Any opinions on whether this will work for a batch that I plan to brew in 2-3 days?
 

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Dgallo

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I set up a burton union to collect some of the blow off yeast. I wanted to do a batch using the same yeast, but ran out of DME. I had a quart jar of the same yeast left over from the last time I over built my starter. I sanitized and dumped that quart jar into my 2L flask.

Only issue that I foresee is that there is too much sanitizer on top. It was just a few bubbles from when I filled and dumped initially.

Any opinions on whether this will work for a batch that I plan to brew in 2-3 days?
I really like the idea. The problem I foresee is yielding a proper pitch count for a clean fermentation.
 
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Jtvann

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I was worried about the same. I started off with basically 1 liter. If I can catch another half, I think I'll be good to go.

Typically I do blow off about that much. I don't know what percentage of that blow off is yeast though vs proteins etc.
 

Dgallo

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I was worried about the same. I started off with basically 1 liter. If I can catch another half, I think I'll be good to go.

Typically I do blow off about that much. I don't know what percentage of that blow off is yeast though vs proteins etc.
Yeah. If you had some dme to do a one liter starter I would say you’d be golden. Anyway chalk it up to the learning curve. If it work, then you found yourself self a new method to reuse yeast lol
 
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Jtvann

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Cool thing is that for the future it's already in my small starter flask. Just need to dump in some premade starter wort and I'm good to go.

Should see tomorrow if she blows off or not.
 

Dgallo

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def interested to see how it all plays out. Keep me updated
 

Gadjobrinus

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Sorry guys, just a bit lost. Are you talking about harvesting a certain amount of blowoff for use in a future batch?

Just a minor point, but it comes up from time to time, and you may know it anyway. This isn't really a Burton Union because you're not returning developing beer back into your FV, not recirculating it. To my knowledge, the only actual Burton Union System operating in the U.S. is by Firestone Walker, with Matt Brynildson (never looked for vids, they may have it).
 

Dgallo

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This is certainly a Burton union in concept. A Burton Union is all about top harvesting yeast by having a FV being connected to a yeast catching vessel or another FV that has wort in it or is about to be racked into it. There is no recirculating involved. There is just gravity and the positive pressure from fermentation. Idk if Firestone walker is the only American brewery to use one but I do know they have a modified one. This is an old school English practice. Definitely strange to think of using it today with how breweries just harvest healthy yeast from there conicals.
 
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Gadjobrinus

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This is certainly a Burton union in concept. A Burton Union is all about top harvesting yeast by having a FV being connected to a yeast catching vessel or another FV that has wort in it or is about to be racked into it. There is no recirculating involved. There is just gravity and the positive pressure from fermentation. Idk if Firestone walker is the only American brewery to use one but I do know they have a modified one. This is an old school English practice. Definitely strange to think of using it today with how breweries just harvest healthy yeast from there conicals.
Long night so sorry for a wiki, but did want to show:

The Burton breweries were known for a recirculating fermentation system known as the Burton Union. Invented in the 1830s, the Union system was a row of wood casks connected to a common trough by way of a series of pipes. The practical purpose of the Union system was to allow excess barm (yeast foam) to be expelled from the casks without leaving excessive amounts of head space within the casks; the system was quickly refined to separate any expelled beer from the wasted yeast, allowing it to flow back into the casks to continue fermentation.
Matt's is, right, a modified idea on the Burton Union. It seems he's the only commercial brewery doing it, besides Marston's.
 

Gadjobrinus

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That's great, no worries. As I said, it's a minor point. You'd mentioned Burton Unions don't involve recirc, a lot of people believe that, and just wanted to clarify that in fact, they do. THat's their ingenuity, dealing with a particular yeast type in doing just that - like a Yorkshire Square does, for another type.
 

Northern_Brewer

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This is certainly a Burton union in concept. A Burton Union is all about a FV being connected to a yeast catching vessel or another FV that has wort in it or is about to be racked into it. There is no recirculating involved. There is just gravity and the positive pressure from fermentation.
It's maybe a question of language, but recirculation is a key part of a Union - but recirculation does not have to be driven by a pump, which is maybe what you're thinking. The recirculation is driven by a 1°C temperature difference created by a cooling system in the top trough.

Unions are a way of managing yeasts with particular properties - Burton breweries were geared to the export market so needed the beer to be stable, so needed high attenuating yeast. But those yeast were powdery so needed a system that allowed the yeast to be racked off easily. That's what the Union does - it also exposes the yeast to lots of fresh air which doesn't hurt.
 
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Jtvann

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Looks like my thread has prompted a nomenclature history lesson. Wasnt exactly what I was shooting for, but what the heck ... why not. I don't really care what the doohickey is called. If I can top crop some of my blown off yeast without having to expose the whole fermenter, then cool.
 

Gadjobrinus

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Well, I certainly didn't mean it to be a "nomenclature history lesson," just wanted to clarify what a Union was because they do entirely different things from what you seem to be doing. Also as I said, I was trying to clarify what it was you were trying to do, to find if I could help. Sounds like you're happy with what you have.

Northern is English, and knows his stuff so if interested, start there. I see Burton Union yeasts as in some ways the opposites of northern yeasts that often require rousing. Never knew this was about getting attenuation for that particular market. Always amazing to me, how this sort of market "evolution" drives the types of materials brewers work with (or, the other way around, I suppose, most often?), thanks, Northern.

FYI, this is Marston's system of goosenecks and troughs, part of the union system. Extremely costly, extremely complicated, and I think that's why all but Marston's has abandoned it, IIRC.

 

Dgallo

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Now I’m a little lost. I’ve looked though all the diagrams that show the mechanic and plumbing of BU but can’t see it recirculating back into the the FV. I see plumbing going out but nothing returning.

Side note, isn’t the jar the same concept of those troughs? To collect healthy active yeast from the blow off? Obviously I’m not claiming the jar is the same as a commercial version, but in theory, they are the same concept? Someone correct me if I’m not grasping this lol
 

Gadjobrinus

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The troughs are the return mechanism. So the fob comes out the gooseneck in the barrels into the top trough, which is slightly pitched, beer runs down the trough, and some yeast is left behind. The beer eventually brightens, and yeast is harvested from the trough. It's a means to deal with the fact this specific type of yeast never wants to leave suspension. So as Northern said, this accomplishes the need for a full attenuation with this type of yeast, coupled to the need for clear, bright beer.

Not a big deal, all I was saying is that without circulation and this process of going from and returning to the FV in order to both clean up the beer and harvest, it's not a Burton Union. It's a means to harvest yeast, which is great.

Not all that exciting because it's not like a fast moving river, but this clip shows the gooseneck throwing fob, the beer and yeast dropping into the trough, and the slow movement then to again drop through for return to the cask (might be called something else?).

 
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