Quantcast

Harvesting Yeast From Fermenter

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
Is it possible to harvest and utilize yeast cells that have collected on the bottom of a fermenter? I've been reading about harvesting from commercial brands but is it also possible to do that from the primary fermenter? also is it possible to store the cells in a tube (keep them cool and dormant) until they need to be put into the starter?
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
I always save my yeast from the fermenters (unless it's getting on the 7th or 8th generation).

It's easy.

Get yourself a couple of apple juice jars and sterilize them. Drill the caps with 1/2" holes to fit a #2 drilled stopper and some airlocks.

1) Fill one of the jars 1/2 way with boiled cooled water
2) Rack your beer out of the primary like normal
3) Pour the water out of the jar into the fermenter and swirl up the yeast cake
4) Pour the slurry into the jar and shake it real good.
5) Wait 10 minutes then pour all but the last 1/8' of the mix into the other empty jar. (THis will leave behind the unwanted solids that have settled out.)
6) Shake the jar again and wait 15 minutes and repeat pouring back into the other (now cleaned) jar. Repeat this process as many times as you feel it needs ( usually just do it twice).

You now have more than enough yeast to pitch onto your next batch.

YeastHarvesting.JPG

For me, I'll chill the mix to let the yeast settle out, then split the yeast into two beer bottles and chill for next week (or next month). Make sure to top off the beer bottles with clean water, though you'll likely have enough slurry to more than fill the bottles.
 
OP
Dextersmom

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
awesome thanks....the yeast from this method won't last as long as store bought liquid yeasts obviously right?

also it doesn't have to be transfered to a "starter wort" right away correct?
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,474
Reaction score
12,098
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
It lasts a long, long time. I have some washed pacific ale yeast in my fridge right now from last fall(?) and it's fine.

When you go to use it, take it out of the fridge, allow it to get to room temperature, and pitch in it your starter wort just like you would a vial of yeast you buy from the store.
 

Jumbo82

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
499
Reaction score
4
Location
Plymouth
I recently had a bad experience with reusing yeast from a primary fermenter. I had never done it before, but I figured it would be easy enough to just scoop up some yeast cells and store them in bottles in my fridge until my next brew day. It didn't go smoothly, some of the sludge got on my hands and I thought it may have contaminated the yeast. But rather than toss out the bottles, I thought I'd keep them for a bit as kind of an experiment to see what would happen to them. Well, a couple weeks later I was in the mood to brew, but didn't have any yeast packets. Rather than waste an hour and gas driving to the nearest brew store and back, I went against my better judgement and opted to use the yeast I had stored. I made a very basic extract beer since I knew there was a possibility I'd lose the batch. I warmed up the bottle of yeast in warm water, and then just added the yeast sludge to the wort in the fermenter (no starter..). Later in the day the airlock had begun to bubble away and I was starting to feel good about it. Proper sanitation? Starters? Eh, its all hype, I can't screw up a batch even if I try, right? Wrong. A few weeks later I racked to my bottling bucket and the beer looked like it always does. Nothing out of the ordinary. So I put my head close to the bucket and took a nice strong whiff. Wow. Burned my nose big time, it was like snorting vinegar (not that I've ever down that). Of course I had to call in my SWMBO and say "hey, will you smell my beer and tell me if you think it smells funny?... yeah...lean in close...." Oh man, you should have seen her reaction and her eyes watering up, I laughed my ass off. Needless to say, the whole batch went down the drain. But it wasn't a complete waste, I definately learned some valuable lessons. Everyone always talks about sanitation, but I think I needed to experience this first hand to truly understand why. And cutting corners isn't worth it, since then I've always kept extra yeast on hand. Hopefully my first and last infected batch.
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
Dextersmom said:
...also it doesn't have to be transfered to a "starter wort" right away correct?
That depends on how long it's been dormant.

If it's been several weeks/months (yes, it will last that long), then pitching to some sort of starter will gain you about 12-24 hours.

If it’s just week-to-week before you use again, simply bringing the yeast up to room temp then pitching will be fine.

Starters accomplish two things:
1) They increase the volume of yeast you’re going to pitch (not necessary here, because you’ve harvested plenty)
2) They jump start the fermentation by waking up the yeast several days before you pitch. This “may” be necessary depending on how long the yeast has been chilled.)
 

Mutilated1

Beer Drenched Executioner
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,147
Reaction score
26
Location
Hoover, Alabama USA
I like to reuse the yeast from the primary. After I rack the beer off and wash the yeast, I usually have enough to save and refridgerate for a later day and still have plenty of yeast to put right back in for another batch.

I think when you reuse yeast, you end up pitching a lot more yeast than if you opened up a fresh pack of dry or made a starter from a new vial of liquid.

First time I tried to wash yeast and reuse it, I had just brewed a Pilsener/Steam with WPL810 so I figured I would give washing a try since $6.95 a vial is worth saving. Anyway, I pulled out enough yeast to wash a quart mason jar of yeast to save and immediately split the rest of the yeast into two parts and put a new batch of Lager on each half that night. I had vigorous bubbling and strong fermentation going within a couple of hours of pouring wort on the remaining yeast, and I still have a full quart Mason jar of yeast left for another day.

For dry yeast, I wouldn't bother with trying to wash it because honestly if you only save a buck fifty, its hardly worth the trouble. But for liquid yeast, just washing it the first time can make that yeast last where its at least as cost effective as dry yeast, and since there is so much yeast there - its almost as if you've made a really big starter when you reuse it.
 

jayhoz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2007
Messages
154
Reaction score
0
Jumbo82 said:
I recently had a bad experience with reusing yeast from a primary fermenter. I had never done it before, but I figured it would be easy enough to just scoop up some yeast cells and store them in bottles in my fridge until my next brew day. It didn't go smoothly, some of the sludge got on my hands and I thought it may have contaminated the yeast. But rather than toss out the bottles, I thought I'd keep them for a bit as kind of an experiment to see what would happen to them. Well, a couple weeks later I was in the mood to brew, but didn't have any yeast packets. Rather than waste an hour and gas driving to the nearest brew store and back, I went against my better judgement and opted to use the yeast I had stored. I made a very basic extract beer since I knew there was a possibility I'd lose the batch. I warmed up the bottle of yeast in warm water, and then just added the yeast sludge to the wort in the fermenter (no starter..). Later in the day the airlock had begun to bubble away and I was starting to feel good about it. Proper sanitation? Starters? Eh, its all hype, I can't screw up a batch even if I try, right? Wrong. A few weeks later I racked to my bottling bucket and the beer looked like it always does. Nothing out of the ordinary. So I put my head close to the bucket and took a nice strong whiff. Wow. Burned my nose big time, it was like snorting vinegar (not that I've ever down that). Of course I had to call in my SWMBO and say "hey, will you smell my beer and tell me if you think it smells funny?... yeah...lean in close...." Oh man, you should have seen her reaction and her eyes watering up, I laughed my ass off. Needless to say, the whole batch went down the drain. But it wasn't a complete waste, I definately learned some valuable lessons. Everyone always talks about sanitation, but I think I needed to experience this first hand to truly understand why. And cutting corners isn't worth it, since then I've always kept extra yeast on hand. Hopefully my first and last infected batch.
Did it smell bad or just burn your nose and make your eyes water? I made the mistake of taking a wiff of my blowoff vessel (partially covered jar) to try to see what aroma the yeast was giving off. What I got was a sharp burning sensation in my nose. I assumed that this was the very high concentration of CO2 in there. The batch turned out perfect.
 

Joker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
1,951
Reaction score
36
Location
Orygun
Yep if you take a big sniff over the airlock your nose will typically burn and your eyes will water.
 

krispy d

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2007
Messages
609
Reaction score
5
Location
Old Saybrook CT
sometimes I don't even wash my yeast. I just transfer my chilled wort onto a fresh yeast cake. That is the beauty of brewing on racking day!
 

sTango

Dunwich Brewing Co.
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
202
Reaction score
0
Location
Nashville, Tn
Jumbo82 said:
I recently had a bad experience with reusing yeast from a primary fermenter. I had never done it before, but I figured it would be easy enough to just scoop up some yeast cells and store them in bottles in my fridge until my next brew day. It didn't go smoothly, some of the sludge got on my hands and I thought it may have contaminated the yeast. But rather than toss out the bottles, I thought I'd keep them for a bit as kind of an experiment to see what would happen to them. Well, a couple weeks later I was in the mood to brew, but didn't have any yeast packets. Rather than waste an hour and gas driving to the nearest brew store and back, I went against my better judgement and opted to use the yeast I had stored. I made a very basic extract beer since I knew there was a possibility I'd lose the batch. I warmed up the bottle of yeast in warm water, and then just added the yeast sludge to the wort in the fermenter (no starter..). Later in the day the airlock had begun to bubble away and I was starting to feel good about it. Proper sanitation? Starters? Eh, its all hype, I can't screw up a batch even if I try, right? Wrong. A few weeks later I racked to my bottling bucket and the beer looked like it always does. Nothing out of the ordinary. So I put my head close to the bucket and took a nice strong whiff. Wow. Burned my nose big time, it was like snorting vinegar (not that I've ever down that). Of course I had to call in my SWMBO and say "hey, will you smell my beer and tell me if you think it smells funny?... yeah...lean in close...." Oh man, you should have seen her reaction and her eyes watering up, I laughed my ass off. Needless to say, the whole batch went down the drain. But it wasn't a complete waste, I definately learned some valuable lessons. Everyone always talks about sanitation, but I think I needed to experience this first hand to truly understand why. And cutting corners isn't worth it, since then I've always kept extra yeast on hand. Hopefully my first and last infected batch.
i hope you tasted it to make sure.....
 

mr x

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 26, 2007
Messages
1,576
Reaction score
6
Location
Mainly Halifax
I froze a pint of beer in the bottom of a keg last month. I popped the lid to check it out, and when I got down close to get a good look, I took a smell and it just about burned my nose off. Nasty viscous sensation. I would have sworn there was industrial paint stripper in there.
 

Jumbo82

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
499
Reaction score
4
Location
Plymouth
jayhoz said:
Did it smell bad or just burn your nose and make your eyes water? I made the mistake of taking a wiff of my blowoff vessel (partially covered jar) to try to see what aroma the yeast was giving off. What I got was a sharp burning sensation in my nose. I assumed that this was the very high concentration of CO2 in there. The batch turned out perfect.

When I first tried to smell it from about a foot above the bucket, I couldn't really smell much (my nose was a bit stuffed up). Thats when I leaned my head into the bucket and took a big whiff. I thought it smelled like vinegar, which I've heard is what an infected batch will smell like. I'm going to try the same smell test this weekend before I rack my current batch to a secondary so I can compare the two. Its possible I tossed out a perfectly healthy batch of beer, but it wasn't going to win any awards anyway. It was going to be a light beer for my friends to drink, so there wasn't nearly enough LME or hops in it to be a respectable beer. I didn't even steep any grains. Like I said, I was going into it thinking I might end up tossing out the beer in the end anyway. Looking back I should have just done a 1 gallon test batch, bottled it even if I thought it was ruined and then tasted it to confirm. I didn't even attempt to taste this batch since in my mind the vinegar smell was confirmation enough. Next time I'll know better. Thanks for the advice.
 

pjj2ba

Look under the recliner
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 25, 2006
Messages
3,377
Reaction score
230
Location
State College
I've found my autosiphon to be a great way to collect yeast. After I've transfered my beer to secondary, I just leave the siphon in place and swirl the carboy to loosen up the yeast. I then take a large bottle that has been soaking in Starsan, drain it and put the outlet of the siphon in it. I tip the carboy and PUMP the sludge into the bottle. It works great, and it's very clean.
 

Professor Frink

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
3,100
Reaction score
30
Location
Beacon, NY
pjj2ba said:
I've found my autosiphon to be a great way to collect yeast. After I've transfered my beer to secondary, I just leave the siphon in place and swirl the carboy to loosen up the yeast. I then take a large bottle that has been soaking in Starsan, drain it and put the outlet of the siphon in it. I tip the carboy and PUMP the sludge into the bottle. It works great, and it's very clean.
That's great thinking, I'll have to try that.
 

Bombo80

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 7, 2008
Messages
490
Reaction score
41
Location
Maple Grove
So, My question is, "how long will washed yeast keep ?"

I have two Wyeast liquids going right now, and I would like to wash, and store them. But how long it too long ??
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
Bombo80 said:
So, My question is, "how long will washed yeast keep ?"

I have two Wyeast liquids going right now, and I would like to wash, and store them. But how long it too long ??
I've pulled out 6 month old (chilled not frozen) yeast before. No problems. It was a little "sleepy" from being chilled for so long, but a good starter a few days before brewing and all was well.
 
OP
Dextersmom

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
What would be the disadvantage to not "washing the yeast" and just using the sludge from the bottom of the carboy?
 

b767fo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Messages
85
Reaction score
0
Location
Durham, NH
Dextersmom said:
What would be the disadvantage to not "washing the yeast" and just using the sludge from the bottom of the carboy?
Some off flavors from the trub, especially if the two brews are significantly different. But a lot of people (me included) do similar brews and just put the new wort right on top of the yeast cake from the previous batch. And if you do a good enough job of straining after the boil there will be very little unwanted solids left over.
 

millstone

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
248
Reaction score
20
Location
In front of my computer in Cedar Lake IN
I’ve attempted to wash yeast as a test to see if I can do it, but I think I got poor results. My procedure - After racking the wort from the primary, I pour in about a quart of cooled boiled water and swirled the yeast and water then pour it into a large jar. Wait the 10, 15, 20 minutes for the trub to settle. I end up with a layer of yeast/trub on the bottom and clear water on top – nothing suspended. I have tried letting the harvested batch sit for an hour or two looking for the three layers, but never see them. My brewing process is to skim the hot break during the boil, put the pellet hops in a nylon sack, and after I chill the wort I swirl the wort and let it sit for 30 minutes then siphon the wort to the primary fermenter leaving behind the cold break. Could this be why I don’t see three layers? Am I transferring very clean wort? And is this why everything settles so quickly? Is what I’m looking at in my jar all yeast? The color is kind of tan.

Thanks

tom
 
OP
Dextersmom

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
b767fo said:
Some off flavors from the trub, especially if the two brews are significantly different. But a lot of people (me included) do similar brews and just put the new wort right on top of the yeast cake from the previous batch. And if you do a good enough job of straining after the boil there will be very little unwanted solids left over.

yeah thats what I was going to ask next actually. If you were brewing a simillar or identical batch then in theory you could just add the wort to the top of the yeast cake. Do you stir up the cake at all with any warm sterile water so that it doesn't just stick to the bottom when you add the new wort to the primary?
 
OP
Dextersmom

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
YooperBrew said:
No, just dump the new (cooled) wort on. You will probably need a blow off tube, though, so be prepared.

sorry

<---- noob here

"blow off tube?"
 

pjj2ba

Look under the recliner
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 25, 2006
Messages
3,377
Reaction score
230
Location
State College
When using a yeast cake the fermentations tend to take off very quickly and very violently creating a LOT of foam. This foam will push right up into your airlock and at best just make a mess, at worst it will get plugged and pressure builds up until you get a beer geyser and one pissed off significant other.

A blow off tube is simply an ~ 3 ft tube in place of the airlock that has it's outlet in a container with some water in it. It is basically a giant elongated airlock. If the blow-off is violent enough it will push a fair bit of liquid into your water container so make sure it is big enough and not too full of water initially. I like to put the carboy and blow off container into a plastic tub in case of overflows.

The blow off tube is commonly inserted over the tube in the center of a 3-piece airlock, or on a carboy cap. I like the carboy cap as there is less resistance for the foam to exit.
 
OP
Dextersmom

Dextersmom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
13
Location
New Haven, CT
pjj2ba said:
When using a yeast cake the fermentations tend to take off very quickly and very violently creating a LOT of foam. This foam will push right up into your airlock and at best just make a mess, at worst it will get plugged and pressure builds up until you get a beer geyser and one pissed off significant other.

A blow off tube is simply an ~ 3 ft tube in place of the airlock that has it's outlet in a container with some water in it. It is basically a giant elongated airlock. If the blow-off is violent enough it will push a fair bit of liquid into your water container so make sure it is big enough and not too full of water initially. I like to put the carboy and blow off container into a plastic tub in case of overflows.

The blow off tube is commonly inserted over the tube in the center of a 3-piece airlock, or on a carboy cap. I like the carboy cap as there is less resistance for the foam to exit.


Gotcha. Yeah after I thought about it for a minute i realized thats probably what it was. This is necessary because of the larger number of yeast cells than normal correct?
Why not always use a blowoff tube instead of an airlock?
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
millstone said:
I’ve attempted to wash yeast as a test to see if I can do it, but I think I got poor results. My procedure - After racking the wort from the primary, I pour in about a quart of cooled boiled water and swirled the yeast and water then pour it into a large jar. Wait the 10, 15, 20 minutes for the trub to settle. I end up with a layer of yeast/trub on the bottom and clear water on top – nothing suspended….
Sounds like you’re doing everything right except maybe missing one step.

Once the sludge is in your jar…shake the sh!t out of it to really mix it up. That is was suspends the yeast into solution. The 10-minute settling time is to let unwanted solids like hop and grain particles settle out.

Don’t try and get a three-layered effect. Jut remember that 95% of what is in the jar is good, useable yeast. The other 5% is the heavy stuff that will fall out. That cloudy liquid is what you want.

Another thing that people do wrong, is not using enough water to rinse out the fermenter yeast cake. If the solution in the jar is not thin enough, it’s more difficult for the solids to separate and settle.

Try using those large apple juice jars and fill them half way with water.
 

millstone

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
248
Reaction score
20
Location
In front of my computer in Cedar Lake IN
BierMuncher said:
Another thing that people do wrong, is not using enough water to rinse out the fermenter yeast cake. If the solution in the jar is not thin enough, it&#8217;s more difficult for the solids to separate and settle.

Try using those large apple juice jars and fill them half way with water.

Thanks for the reply BierMuncher,
When adding water, how much is enough or to much. I do have some empty juice jugs, so how many should i try to fill from one yeast cake?

sorry if I'm asking too simple of a question

thanks

tom

EDIT: OK. just read your answer (post #4) ... Just fill an apple juice jug 1/2 way with water.....
 

anderj

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
331
Reaction score
4
Location
Boise, ID
so, when the jars come out of the fridge you pour the refrigerated water onto the trub? Or you let the H2O come to room temp?
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
millstone said:
&#8230;how much is enough or to much&#8230;
EDIT: OK. just read your answer (post #4) ... Just fill an apple juice jug 1/2 way with water.....
Generally, by the time you use a half jug of water mixed with your trub, you&#8217;ll have about 2 inches of head space at the top of the jar.

anderj said:
so, when the jars come out of the fridge you pour the refrigerated water onto the trub? Or you let the H2O come to room temp?
It doesn&#8217;t matter as long as the water isn&#8217;t freshly boiled and still hot. In most cases, I like to boil and then just cool to room temp (or up to 80-90 degrees). Remember that your throwing that water onto a 68 degree yeast cake so the temp will come down some.

I like at this phase, for the mix to be on the room temperature range so the yeast mixes better.
 

anderj

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
331
Reaction score
4
Location
Boise, ID
BierMuncher said:
...onto a 6 degree yeast cake...
Although I feel that I am doing a good job decreasing my "noobness" this does not make sense to me. I have the refrigerated water (boiled before refrigeration) to pour
onto the yeast cake and stir everything up and get the yeast. A six degree yeast cake?
 

Kubed

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2007
Messages
236
Reaction score
7
Location
Sin City, NV
anderj said:
Although I feel that I am doing a good job decreasing my "noobness" this does not make sense to me. I have the refrigerated water (boiled before refrigeration) to pour
onto the yeast cake and stir everything up and get the yeast. A six degree yeast cake?
Best guess: 6 degree yeast cake = 60 degree yeast cake..... ie: the temperature of the yeast cake after it's been left to ferment in a primary at room temp
 

DirtyDachshunds

Active Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
36
Reaction score
1
Location
Columbus
Using yeast like this batch to batch seems like it can produce off flavors. Have you tried using yeast say from an IPA to make a low gravity amber ale next? Would that even work with over bittering the beer?
 
Top