Harvesting yeast issue

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jheist

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So I have been harvesting (not washing) yeast for a few months now. Currently WLP 001 which just came out of a wheat pale ale batch. I just brewed a rye pale ale and pitched around 10 ounces of harvested yeast. We are nearing 48 hours without any krauzen activity seen in my better bottle. I'm getting nervous and going to fix that with a repitch today.

My question is: what did I do wrong? My primary theory is I pulled my harvested yeast out of the fridge and pitched it directly into 70 degree wort. Sounds like I shocked and killed my yeast. Looking back through several posts both on harvesting and washing there is no mention of letting the yeast in the fridge warm up prior to pitching but perhaps that is common knowledge I missed.

I hope this was my problem because I love harvesting and pitching yeast. I have been pitching harvested yeast (at room temp after racking) regularly with no issues until now.

Thanks for the help!
 

Wig

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70 would not kill it. You should let the yeast reach room temperature. They go dormant in the cold as you know, and vitality can decrease (depending on how long and how cold it was). So while you pitched 10 ounces it is possible not all of it was still viable.

Was it somewhat whiteish, or yellow/brown like peanut butter? The problem may be before it went into the fridge. What technique did you use? Have you taken a gravity reading? What was the OG? Krausen does not rise immediately after fermentation begins.

When yeast harvesting, it is a good idea to make a starter. If at least just to make sure something is still alive in there, and wake them up to reduce lag time.

I'd give a little more time, another day at least, before repitching. But 3 days is my limit, I'm paranoid of some other organism taking hold in my wort.
 

tre9er

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You should definitely let it warm to wort temperature before pitching next time.

How did you harvest this crop? I'd like to know your procedures when you harvested it.
 
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jheist

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Thanks for the replies. Good news! It now appears to be chugging away (nice krauzen and bubbles from the blow off tube). I was primarily worried because my brew partner had the exact same wort (6 gallons at 1.057) and only pitched a wyeast american ale II without a starter and his took off within 24 hours, I was assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that I would have many more viable yeast cells than him.

I have been basing my harvesting practice off this long thread. Process found in the first post in this thread at the bottom. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/why-not-pitch-your-yeast-cake-166221/

Basically I rack off my primary into a keg, swirl around the yeast with the small amount of remaining beer and take several sanitized (not sterile) mason jars and fill them up with 10 oz yeast. Minimal work on my part. I am aware I need to use these really quickly and do usually within 1-3 days without a starter. I vacuum seal the mason jar and place in fridge.

Most people here seem to favor yeast washing and pitching into a starter. I thought I had found a process that would allow me to eliminate the starter step and still pitch the correct amount of viable yeast but I may have to go back to making starters. I brew so many beers that do well with a clean american yeast I have just been reusing WLP 001 in all kinds of beers (browns, IPAs, pale ales, etc)

Another possibility is my last beer (a gumball head wheat pale ale clone) stayed in the fermenter about 4 weeks (got busy and didnt rack it) so that may have reduced the yeasts viability.

Any thoughts, trying to avoid issues in the future.
 

tre9er

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I do what you do and save it i'm fridge as long as I need to, always get good fermentation, but I do heat to wort temperature gradually by setting out early on brew day. Lately I've just harvested into one quart sized mason jar as I get lazy and already have plenty of yeast
 
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