Capturing and Reusing Yeast from a Conical

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OKCAg2002

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Hi everyone. I know that this topic has likely been covered quite a bit, but I just haven’t found a solution to my particular scenario. I have a Grainfather conical fermenter, and I want to capture and reuse the yeast for another batch of beer.

I’ve seen some videos on how to wash the yeast, but I don’t think this would be necessary since all of the yeast I want is at the bottom, correct?

My plan is to dump what’s at the bottom and discard the “first runnings” since that’s going to be dead cells. Then I will capture a mason jar of the creamy stuff and then fill the rest of the mason jar with pre-boiled water. I’ll store in the refrigerator and then do I decant and then dump it into a starter for my next batch?
 

JohnSand

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I don't have a conical, and I save yeast as simply as possible. I scoop it from the bottom of the fermenter with a sanitized cup and save it in a sanitized mason jar in the fridge. This works well.
 

odie

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With a conical, I think the very bottom will be nothing but settled kettle trub. Next layer any dead cells. Top layer all the good dormant yeast.

You can probably dump everything that settles in the first 24 hours. Then pretty much everything after that should be good viable yeast cake.
 

pvpeacock

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I do a couple of trub dumps after a week of fermenting in my conicals. Right before I transfer the beer to a keg, I save the last dump which is primarily yeast, dry hops and beer. I simply fill a mason jar, label it and put it in the refrigerator. Then, when I want to reuse it, I just make a starter and use what settled to bottom of the mason jar. A few times, the starter did not show any signs of fermenting, but those were mason jars of yeast over 6 months old. The ones that were a few weeks to a few months old all started without a hitch and then worked fine in the next 5 gallon batch of wort/beer.

I don't "wash" the yeast. I don't add sterilized water to the mason jar. I don't do anything other than fill the mason jar from the bottom of the conical with yeast/trub/beer and refrigerate it.
 

jerrylotto

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That's why I love using my Fermzilla plastic conical so much. The removable bottom ball makes it simple to dump trub and capture yeast. I also have an SS Brewbucket with a racking arm but I have only used that for smaller batches that don't reach the thermowell on the Fermzilla (needs at least 4 gallons to reach).
 

Dland

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If you plan to brew again right after racking, just dump trub from bottom port to get rid of solids, add fresh wort to yeasty beer that remains at bottom of conical. Assuming ones sanitation is pretty good, this can be done for many brews in succession, as long as one is brewing regularly.

If you're not going to brew within a few days of racking last batch, saving in jar if fridge is better.
 

balbertalli

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A word of warning about yeast harvesting from your Grainfather conical... the design of the dual valve tap makes it very difficult to collect yeast sanitarily. If you take a look at the tap, you can see that the dump valve lever lifts up the the plunger thingy, allowing whatever is at the bottom of the cone to fall out around it. The problem is that well area underneath is 1) open to the outside atmosphere, 2) only accessible while in use through the 1/2" dump port, and 3) impossible to visually inspect while in use. Basically, if you dump some trub at the beginning of your ferment, whatever is left in that area is going to be a bacteria magnet.

I've tried a few things to get around this. I once had the bright idea to attach some tubing facing upwards and filling the area with sanitizer. However, it made my conical look a little... um, excited (see below).

After having a few jars of yeast that grew all kinds of weird pellicles, I decided to just start overbuilding my starters and saving the yeast from that. I do still do a trub dump prior to pitching, and one after about 24 hrs.
 

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Neldog0

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A question for everyone:
I was always using liquid yeast & then harvested my yeast from that. I switched over to dry yeast. I talked to a couple of the yeast guys out there and was told not to try to harvest from dry yeast. Is any one harvesting from dry yeast with success ?
 

jerrylotto

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A question for everyone:
I was always using liquid yeast & then harvested my yeast from that. I switched over to dry yeast. I talked to a couple of the yeast guys out there and was told not to try to harvest from dry yeast. Is any one harvesting from dry yeast with success ?

Yes - harvesting from any healthy fermentation can be successful.
 

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