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Experiment reusing yeast from high OG beers

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Tots

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I have read a lot on this forum and others about using yeast from high gravity beers. Everyone says don't re-use it if it's from a beer with OG above 1.060 or a highly hopped beer. Some people cite mutations but I don't really buy that. Other people cite all the trub/dead yeast cells but can't seem really correlate off flavors to that. So I'm planning on trying and seeing what happens.

**Please let me know if anyone else has tried this**

I brewed a 1.080 OG Shallow Grave Robust Porter kit from morebeer (10 gallons) with 3xWLP004 in a 2L starter. Harvested the yeast, washed it, and put it in a weak (1.030) starter with yeast nutrient TWICE to get the alive yeast back up to health. Both starters fermented down to ~1.010. Decanted and saved the yeast from the second starter. I plan on tossing about half of it into my next Irish red ale estimated OG around 1.055.

See any issues? I tasted both starters but since I had it on a stir plate (going for optimum yeast health) it tasted oxygenated but not funky. I don't know why I can't find anyone else on the whole wide internet who hasn't at least given this a try and written down the results. I've seen someone pull a successful slant from a bottle of high ABV beer, but that's it. I brew in about a week, let me know if I'm going to ruin 10 gallons of beer!!!!! Otherwise I will post the results here.
 
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Tots

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Ok - results. Not *the* most scientific but I probably will follow the 1.060 rule - unless I'm in a bind. I made an Irish Red Killian clone (all grain) 10 gallon batch. I split the batch in half and put it into 6 gallon buckets. In one beer I pitched two WLP011 European Ale vials that I had put into a 2L starter. In the other beer I pitched a little less than a cup of slurry recycled from the a 1.080 robust porter, so a second generation of WLP004 Irish Ale yeast. Ideally I would've pitched the same yeast - but I live in Japan and the only homebrew store with liquid yeast was out of the Irish.

Tasting the beer side by side - the main difference - I would say the main flaw - in the re-used yeast is a tangy top of your mouth bite in the middle and a bit in the finish. The initial taste is right on for an Irish Red but then it's overtaken. It's a drinkable beer - and I would think that some people would be tempted to say 'it worked out - the beer was fine' - but next to the other beer with European yeast it was fairly obvious to my (untrained) palate that the recycled yeast produced an inferior beer. In conclusion - it will work in a pinch especially if you can give it a nice 1.030 starter with yeast nutrient - but I wouldn't do it. So a super long, boring, wordy post to say what everyone else has already said - but I didn't see anyone else actually split a batch and compare so now you are equipped with what I didn't have.
 

Jtk78

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Thank you for doing this, and more so for taking the time to post the results. When I started harvesting yeast, I was getting it from the fermenter. Based on info here, I've recently started over building my starters and saving some that way. This way I don't have to be concerned with the high gravity stress from a previous batch.
 

Simonh82

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I've not reused yeast from high OG beers I've made myself but I have successfully cultured up yeast from strong beers which have been bottle conditioned. I managed to get the Duvel strain from the dregs of a couple of bottles and that seemed to show no noticeable issues.
 

flars

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You used two different yeasts and found a taste difference. I was expecting the harvested WLP 004 and fresh WLP 004 being used for the experiment for a side by side tasting.
 

Calder

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I've used yeast from high grav beers. Quite a lot of times over the years. It is not my normal practice, but there are just some times when that is the only option available. Never had an issue using it.

Yes, you are probably accelerating mutations, but if you don't re-use the yeast too many times, I suspect you will have a hard time detecting a difference.
 
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Tots

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Yeah that's why I tried the side-by-side to see if I could detect the difference. Might re-do the experiment again - let me know if any of you guys do it with the same yeast!
 
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Tots

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You used two different yeasts and found a taste difference. I was expecting the harvested WLP 004 and fresh WLP 004 being used for the experiment for a side by side tasting.
Yeah I wanted to do that. But here in Japan the homebrew game is pretty weak. Just got liquid yeast for the first time two months ago - bought the only WLP004 Irish they had to brew the first beer, so they didn't have any fresh that I could use. I definitely would have done that if it was possible.
 
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