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Can I culture yeast from Juniper Berries?

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JMass

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Wowie-Zowie!

This is so cool. I just killed 30+ minutes at work reading this thread. Makes me wonder if I could try this with some of the Concord Grapes my in-laws have growing in their back yard.

So many ideas, so little time!
Sounds good. When I used to make Cider, I would get unpasteurized cider and throw in some raisins for yeast for a natural fermentation. You could get fancy and do a King Midas style Beer with grapes and grain.

I can smell these grapes growing wild at a certain time of year.
 

winvarin

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Sorry to resurrect but I am going to try a version of this this summer and have a question. Does the fruit or berry you use have to be ripe or ripening to do this?

I have a wild plum tree in my yard. I have made melomels with them, but I always wash and steep in a hot water bath before using.

It always makes more plums than I will ever use. I was out looking at the tree last night. The fruit is still quite hard and green. But there is the telltale white powder of yeast on the surface.

Is it too early to use? Or is it fine to try to culture the yeast now since I am not intending to draw fermentables from the fruit itself?

Also, how many should I use? I have a 3L flask. The plums are the size of large marbles. I figure I can get 10-15 in there with approx 1000ml of starter wort.
 

ni*

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As I have posted here before, the "telltale white powder" isn't yeast -- it's wax, as any intro botany book will clarify (this is an incredibly persistent, and somewhat baffling myth: how would the yeast multiply to macroscopic densities without the fruit showing any sign of decay, and indeed, lasting months more without decay?). That said, all fruit (as well as nearly everything else on the planet) is covered in yeast, and I'm sure you'll get something if you throw one into a liter of wort. There will almost certainly be more yeast on a riper fruit, which might increase your odds of getting predominantly S. cerevisiae growth (because alcohol will be produced more rapidly, killing competing microbes).
 
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COLObrewer

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Also, how many should I use? I have a 3L flask. The plums are the size of large marbles. I figure I can get 10-15 in there with approx 1000ml of starter wort.

I would think just 3 or 4 would be plenty, in fact I am considering starting over with just one juniper berry to isolate or reduce the amount of yeast strains to start with so you might use just one if you want. Also you should hop your wort if you want to inhibit the sour strains of yeast/bacterium. It's gonna take a while to build up a pitchable amount so be patient. Keep us posted.:mug:

I'm still using mine by the way, working on 5th generation and appx. 20th batch.
 

winvarin

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COLObrewer said:
I would think just 3 or 4 would be plenty, in fact I am considering starting over with just one juniper berry to isolate or reduce the amount of yeast strains to start with so you might use just one if you want. Also you should hop your wort if you want to inhibit the sour strains of yeast/bacterium. It's gonna take a while to build up a pitchable amount so be patient. Keep us posted.:mug:

I'm still using mine by the way, working on 5th generation and appx. 20th batch.
How much hopping would you recommend? I usually only boil my starters about 10 min
 

winvarin

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That is good to hear. I was just thinking of a couple of already opened bags of hops that have set in my fridge long enough that I wouldnt want to use them for anything but straight bittering.

How do you separate the berries and still decant only the yeast when stepping up the first time?

I have a funnel with a screen. my plan for the first step up was to just shake it up and pour the whole starter through the funnel the first step, just to separate the fruit. Then I could worry about decanting the wort on subsequent steps.
 
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COLObrewer

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. . . . How do you separate the berries and still decant only the yeast when stepping up the first time?

I have a funnel with a screen. my plan for the first step up was to just shake it up and pour the whole starter through the funnel the first step, just to separate the fruit. Then I could worry about decanting the wort on subsequent steps.
That's exactly what I did, it should work great.:mug:
Edit: If you are successful maybe we can swap some yeast.
 

winvarin

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COLObrewer said:
That's exactly what I did, it should work great.:mug:
Edit: If you are successful maybe we can swap some yeast.
That would be cool. But then I would have to start yeast washing. That's exactly what I need. Another facet of this hobby to take up my waking hours.
 

TANSTAAFB

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winvarin said:
That would be cool. But then I would have to start yeast washing. That's exactly what I need. Another facet of this hobby to take up my waking hours.
Yeast washing is well worth the little bit of effort it takes...saves me a ton of time (brewing when I want w/o a trip to the LHBS) and money as well as the luxury of having several strains on hand at all times. It's really the only way you will tame the wild yeastie beasties you cultivate. Colo has had his project running for a long time now! Good luck to you & keep us updated.
 

drummstikk

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I'm curious how you guys know that the yeast you're using came from a natural source, and not from within your brewhouse.

Unless you use sterilized glassware or pre-packaged sterile plastic tubes, along with sterile technique and autoclaved media, it's hard to know that the yeast you end up with originated on the juniper berries. Even with all the precautions, it's hard to be certain the yeast aren't domesticated strains from your previous brews.
 
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COLObrewer

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I'm curious how you guys know that the yeast you're using came from a natural source, and not from within your brewhouse.
. . . . . .
Good question, I guess I don't know for sure, there are yeast everywhere. I suppose the fact that I sealed the jar after sterilizing and sealed it after I inserted the juniper berries and sealed it after pouring in the wort would not guarantee that the yeast came from only the juniper berries, some other yeast could have slipped in during any of those moments. I'm just happy I can get viable yeast any time I want . . . . . . . . . from somewhere.:mug:

How does anyone know that the yeast(s) they are using is the only yeast(s) that is fermenting their product? I guess if I were brewing in a sterilized, filtered brewhouse under vacuum I could know? Or would it be a sterilized, filtered, pressurized brewhouse?
 

JMass

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I've been to the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels a few times and I have a similar question. They pump their wort into the attic into these wide shallow containers for cooling. Supposedly that is where the wild yeast is picked up. However, I believe that they use wooden barrels for aging, etc. I'm thinking that a lot of their yeast is hanging out.
 
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COLObrewer

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I've been to the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels a few times and I have a similar question. They pump their wort into the attic into these wide shallow containers for cooling. Supposedly that is where the wild yeast is picked up. However, I believe that they use wooden barrels for aging, etc. I'm thinking that a lot of their yeast is hanging out.
From what I understand, after they pump to the coolships, the wort cools overnight and the yeast/bugs float in through their louvered windows and also they come from their rafters/beams in the ceiling, don't ask me how they maintain a consistent product though.
 

Reno_eNVy

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I am most certainly giving this a try! The juniper in the Great Basin produces some stellar sahti so this time around I'll make some using the yeast. The best time for berries for our juniper is February so I'll be sure to document it on here then.

This will be awesome seeing as I'll be using every part of the juniper I harvest:
- Boil the branches and berries in all brewing liquor
- Lauter the mash through branches
- Add crushed berries with 5 minutes left in the boil
- Ferment with yeast harvested from the berries
- Extra protein from any insects hanging out on the branches :D
 

drummstikk

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How does anyone know that the yeast(s) they are using is the only yeast(s) that is fermenting their product? I guess if I were brewing in a sterilized, filtered brewhouse under vacuum I could know? Or would it be a sterilized, filtered, pressurized brewhouse?
I think that's an excellent point. Our use of single-cell cultures, shipped overnight from a lab, is good for commercial-level consistency, but almost an insult to centuries of brewing tradition. Top-cropping and lagering solved the problem of sour beer (is it really a problem anyway?) long before Hansen and Pasteur showed up.

Unless we're trying to clone a commercial style, why should we constantly be buying new pitches from a sterile-technique environment like White Labs/Wyeast?
 

doctorRobert

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No offense, but you guys are ridiculous.

Buying consistent yeast is an insult to brewing tradition? A tradition of accidentally soured and inconsistent beer and magical "goop" at the bottom of the fermenter maybe.

Also - I hope you guys can sanitize your equipment well enough that that you don't accidentally introduce prior yeast into your beers. If this was true, we'd all have infections almost all the time as it would be just as easy for wild yeast to also enter the brewery. While infection is probably higher than most people think (just undetectable) - only detectable infections truly matter. If you dont pitch yeast, you probably wont have fermentation, unless your sanatization is absolutely terrible.
 
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COLObrewer

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Thanx Doc, kinda the point I was trying to make, wheather we are contaminated or not, it still works, usually.
 

drummstikk

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Alright, I went too far there -- it's not insulting to buy cultured yeast -- this is the only way I've ever brewed after all!

But it's clearly not necessary either. This thread proves that you can make good non-sour beer with your own mixed yeast culture. It makes a lot of sense, too, when you consider that people made non-sour beer for centuries before sterile conditions were achieved in the lab. They just kept contamination down to undetectable levels (there is still some undetectable contamination after all, when we pitch a cultured yeast, as COLObrewer pointed out) and they did it using aggressive hopping, top-cropping, and lagering.

Just cracked open Phil Markowski's Farmhouse Ales book, and it turns out that traditional Saisons frequently used mixed strains of yeast that never saw a petri dish. A little reassurance!

I'm planning to try my hand at catching some wild yeast for an all-homemade beer, and I wouldn't know where to start if it weren't for the knowledge on this thread -- rock on, yeast catchers!
 

Reno_eNVy

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Booyah! Got a chance to make sahti this year (never thought the juniper would bloom due to this incredibly dry winter.)

As intended, I saved some of the berries for harvesting yeast. It will be used to "sour" a gallon of the main batch.

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COLObrewer

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. . . . It will be used to "sour" a gallon of the main batch.
Interesting, what will you be using to "sour" your gallon? I've been using my juniper berry yeast since this thread started and have yet to see anything sour from them.:mug:

Still, a sahti made with juniper berry yeast sounds intrigueing and is probably more traditional than using any other yeast. Brew on my friend and keep us updated.
 

Reno_eNVy

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Interesting, what will you be using to "sour" your gallon? I've been using my juniper berry yeast since this thread started and have yet to see anything sour from them.:mug:

Still, a sahti made with juniper berry yeast sounds intrigueing and is probably more traditional than using any other yeast. Brew on my friend and keep us updated.
Hmm, I dunno just figured there'd be a funk to it.
 
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COLObrewer

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Your's may have some funk, I guess it all depends on your process and if funk strains are captured.
 

kh54s10

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Wow! 2 years later and 2 of the principle players still responding.

It would be very interesting to continue experimenting to find out the best uses and temperatures. For example, would the captured yeast do better in a light or dark beer? Ale or lager? Fermented cold or warm?

Maybe there is one combination that the captured yeast would make a great choice, even better than any commercial strain.

Who here can do DNA experiments on commercial and wild yeasts and classify the differences?

I may have to give wild yeast capture a try!:rockin:
 

Reno_eNVy

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I wasn't thinking belgian funk just.... not clean. And I'm glad it gets dry. That's what I wanted.
 
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COLObrewer

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I wasn't thinking belgian funk just.... not clean. And I'm glad it gets dry. That's what I wanted.
Reno, How'd your "sahti" turn out? Used my juniper yeast in some saison a couple days ago with some wyeast 3724 alongside for comparison.
 

Reno_eNVy

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Unfortunately I wasn't able to get yeast but instead a bunch of other nasty stuff.

But the regular non-wild sahti was amazing. It even won a gold medal in category 23 and 2nd place in Best-in-Show
 
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COLObrewer

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Unfortunately I wasn't able to get yeast but instead a bunch of other nasty stuff.

But the regular non-wild sahti was amazing. It even won a gold medal in category 23 and 2nd place in Best-in-Show
Well, you wanted some funk right? Dangit, sorry to hear it, congrats on the other though.:mug:
 
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COLObrewer

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Fellow home brewers, My name is Vern, It's been about 2 years since my last brew session (beer), 3 weeks ago I developed a yearning, a distant yet familiar yearning to brew beer. I started by looking at all the yeast in the fridge, numerous jars and jugs of saved liquid yeast, all of which are old, very old. I decided to brew first (Pinon Stout) with some dry yeast (Used some Safale of some spec). I saved some of that wort to grow more new yeast for the next batch, which yeast to grow? . . . . . . Lets just take the oldest yeast in the fridge and grow from there. This yeast happened to be my vial of the original juniper yeast, it had very few cells in it, the label says "House yeast 7-1-10, (Original) (Juniper)". After watering down the saved stout wort, I spent the next 2 weeks stepping up the yeast to a large enough sample to brew a moderate beer.

What beer to brew? . . . . . . How about . . . . . a red ale . . . . . . . Ryerish Red sounds good, we brewed it up utilizing the standard procedures of Two Pinons Ranch Brewery Division, after cooling, drained to the better bottle.

Swirled and poured in most of the new yeast and the next morning it was rocking, hmmm, it still works, amazing, it's always amazing to me!

Saved some wort for the next batch of yeast and it is rocking as well.

My name is Vern and it has been ~ 2 years since my last brew session, hope you're all doing great!
 
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COLObrewer

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Hi all! Long time no see.
This red ale wasn't so hot, in fact it was bad, can't really explain the flavour, sort of tastes like worn out yeast thats been filtered through many batches of high gravity fermentations and harvested from only the less flocculant survivors :) so I believe the usefulness of this 7th or so generation cultured juniper yeast is over.

Edit: After reviewing the last brew session it appears I used a vial of the "original" yeast. Something else went wrong. Maybe I need to . . . . . . . BREW MORE!!!
 
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Hi all! Long time no see.
This red ale wasn't so hot, in fact it was bad, can't really explain the flavour, sort of tastes like worn out yeast thats been filtered through many batches of high gravity fermentations and harvested from only the less flocculant survivors :) so I believe the usefulness of this 7th or so generation cultured juniper yeast is over.

Edit: After reviewing the last brew session it appears I used a vial of the "original" yeast. Something else went wrong. Maybe I need to . . . . . . . BREW MORE!!!
Dude!
 

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I just read this whole darn thread. Pretty fun read. Definitely a lot easier to find info on Wild yeast these days as compared to 2010.

It is shocking that you were able to find a wild yeast that was POF- and fermented complex sugars. The likelihood of that happening is insanely low.
 

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I just read though the thread as well.
Somewhere on my "To Do / Brew" list is to play around with yeast.
I'm been saving yeasts from my various brews - I miss the vials White Labs would pack their yeast in -
I try to keep them in the back of the fridge, but my wife keeps moving them to the door :mad:
I want to try glycerin and freezing - freezer space is a premium now.
|However, I also want to try harvesting wild - we have an Arboretum across the street and I want to see about leaving stuff there for a day or two - at this point it'll have to be next year.
Need to read up on it and get some stuff...
 
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