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Howto: Capture Wild Yeast

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ericd

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Figured I'd post this since everytime I mention it in the forums I get tons of questions. It's very easy to capture your own wild yeast. This is different than lambic brewing, since you can make "regular" styles with it (with a bit of a twist)! I love using the wild yeast I captured this way, it will eat its way thru anything.

Step 1) Clean & sanitize an empty glass jar.

Step 2) In it mix up a bit of DME with warm water. Not much, you want the gravity of the mixture to be 1.030 at most. You could try boiling it with a bit of hops, but I didn't do it that way.

Step 3) Leave it by an opened window until you start seeing bubbles and foam on top (I think it took me about 2 weeks). Awesome! Your culture of your local wild yeast is ready! You can now use it to start a beer!

How long you leave it out will affect what you get. If you use it right after you first start seeing signs of life (2 weeks) you will just get wild yeast. Leave it out longer and you will get other things in it. This is what happens (from Lambic by Guinard):

(3 to 7 days) Enteric Bacteria and Kloeckera Apiculata
(2 weeks) Saccharomyces
(3 to 4 months) Lactic Acid Bacteria
(8 months) Brettanomyces plus Pichia, Candida, Hansenula and Cryptococcus

Note that a group of microbes take over from the previous one, so for example, at two weeks, Saccaromyces has completely taken over and there is no Enteric Bacteria or Kloeckera left in your culture.

Ok well, now you know everything about capturing your own wild yeast! Hope it helped!

Added this to the wiki
 

Schlenkerla

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This sounds cool. :fro:

Here are some questions;

  • Where do you live? (city & state)?
  • What style would you say that you made? (Closest resemblance)
  • What yeast flavor profiles have you gotten?
    • Sour/Tart/Bitter
    • Clove/Banana
    • Bubble Gum
    • Yeasty
    • Fruity/Dry
    • Other
  • What temps did you conduct the ferment?
    • Was it fast or slow
  • Was this a cloudy beer or clear?
  • Have you done this more than once
    • If so, did you get the same results?
    • What batch sizes?
I'm interested in your comments.....

I have read about making yeast from fruits.

For Cider: This is where you boil a quart of water, cool, soak 1/2 lb raisins for a bit 5-7 days. Soak warm 70-75. Pour-off or pitch only the liquid as starter. Good for 10 gallons
 
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ericd

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Here are some questions;

  • Where do you live? (city & state)?
    Norman Oklahoma
  • What style would you say that you made? (Closest resemblance)
    Double Wit
  • What yeast flavor profiles have you gotten?
    • Sour/Tart/Bitter
      A Little Lactic Sourness
    • Clove/Banana
      Haven't noticed any
    • Bubble Gum
      YES, especially at higher gravities
    • Yeasty
      Yes, yeasty/cardboard
    • Fruity/Dry
      Vague topical/semitropical fruits. (Pineapple, mango, citrus etc)
    • Other
    Funk of course, spices
  • What temps did you conduct the ferment?

    • Room temp (75F), but i'd go a little lower if i could.
    • Was it fast or slow
    FAST, wild yeast is HUNGREH!!!!
  • Was this a cloudy beer or clear?
    Cloudy, they are not well behaved.
  • Have you done this more than once

    • YES, I've been propagating my culture along for more than a year from batch to batch.
    • If so, did you get the same results?
      Yes, it's the same culture so you can expect similar results.
    • What batch sizes?
    1 gallon, then 4.5 gallon now.
I'm interested in your comments.....

I have read about making yeast from fruits.
 

Edcculus

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This is very cool. I'll have to give it a try once it decides to stay above freezing for 2 weeks.
 

lordbeermestrength

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Here are some questions;

  • Where do you live? (city & state)?
    Norman Oklahoma
  • What style would you say that you made? (Closest resemblance)
    Double Wit
  • What yeast flavor profiles have you gotten?
    • Sour/Tart/Bitter
      A Little Lactic Sourness
    • Clove/Banana
      Haven't noticed any
    • Bubble Gum
      YES, especially at higher gravities
    • Yeasty
      Yes, yeasty/cardboard
    • Fruity/Dry
      Vague topical/semitropical fruits. (Pineapple, mango, citrus etc)
    • Other
    Funk of course, spices
  • What temps did you conduct the ferment?

    • Room temp (75F), but i'd go a little lower if i could.
    • Was it fast or slow
    FAST, wild yeast is HUNGREH!!!!
  • Was this a cloudy beer or clear?
    Cloudy, they are not well behaved.
  • Have you done this more than once

    • YES, I've been propagating my culture along for more than a year from batch to batch.
    • If so, did you get the same results?
      Yes, it's the same culture so you can expect similar results.
    • What batch sizes?
    1 gallon, then 4.5 gallon now.
I'm interested in your comments.....

I have read about making yeast from fruits.
Wow... thats cool! So how many generations would you say you've done now? And the flavor profile hasn't changed much if any from the original batch?
 
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ericd

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It's been so long since I first "caught" it that I can't say if it's changed or not. Nothing to compare it too. I biggest change in flavor profiles I've noticed is between low/high gravity batches.
 

Schlenkerla

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You know the funny thing about this is what you have captured makes a Wit.

What I might capture could be Saison, Biere De Guarde or some other Farmhouse.

I may have to try this.

I wonder what difference there would be done indoors now vs spring air in April....
 

starrfish

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This Is AWESOME!!!!
Have a few questions though:
Does time of the year matter? and are there different strains active at different out side temps? does wild yeast go dormant, hence less available in the colder months?

I might be interested in trying this for a small 1 gal batch as a test. have some amber dme I need to get rid of....
 

KingBrianI

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I once sat a glass of extra wort after filling a fermentor on a windowsill and left it for a week or two. It became moldy on top so I threw it out. I am going to experiment with wild yeast again in the spring with hopefully better results. A suggestion I heard from someone that excites me is to plate the culture you develop in order to separate the different strains. You could then use each unique colony to make a monoculture of that particular strain, and test each.
 
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ericd

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Does time of the year matter? and are there different strains active at different out side temps? does wild yeast go dormant, hence less available in the colder months?
Well I've only done this once but it worked great. I noticed right after I captured it and got familiar with its smell that it was EXACTLY how the air smelled outside just concentrated. So I'd do it when the air smelled good outside.

You know the funny thing about this is what you have captured makes a Wit.

What I might capture could be Saison, Biere De Guarde or some other Farmhouse.

I may have to try this.

I wonder what difference there would be done indoors now vs spring air in April....
Yeah, there's really no telling. I haven't had any Farmhouse ales because they aren't available in my area but I use it to make a big, funky wit and I like it so whatever.
 

KingBrianI

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Well I've only done this once but it worked great. I noticed right after I captured it and got familiar with its smell that it was EXACTLY how the air smelled outside just concentrated. So I'd do it when the air smelled good outside.
That confirms a suspicion I had that you could essentially capture the "essence" of a place by capturing wild yeast and other buggies there. It is why I'm going to try to get cultures going from a variety of interesting "natural" places like a meadow in full bloom, the middle of a thick forest, an old barn and an orchard.

I'm thinking the floral/grassy flavors that may be captured from a meadow would make a great pale ale or IPA.

Earthy/woody flavors from the forest would make a killer Bitter.

What better use for a barn yeast than a nice funky belgian farmhouse ale?

And how nice would the fruity flavors from orchard yeast be with a hefeweizen.
 
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ericd

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That confirms a suspicion I had that you could essentially capture the "essence" of a place by capturing wild yeast and other buggies there. It is why I'm going to try to get cultures going from a variety of interesting "natural" places like a meadow in full bloom, the middle of a thick forest, an old barn and an orchard.

I'm thinking the floral/grassy flavors that may be captured from a meadow would make a great pale ale or IPA.

Earthy/woody flavors from the forest would make a killer Bitter.

What better use for a barn yeast than a nice funky belgian farmhouse ale?

And how nice would the fruity flavors from orchard yeast be with a hefeweizen.
YES! I think I must of captured the smell of my university town during a dreary cold winter, grungy black ice slush in the streets, car exaust, etc. The funny thing is it still makes a good beer! Maybe I'll start calling it Road Slush Double Wit :rockin:

I love your ideas by the way.
 

KingBrianI

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YES! I think I must of captured the smell of my university town during a dreary cold winter, grungy black ice slush in the streets, car exaust, etc. The funny thing is it still makes a good beer! Maybe I'll start calling it Road Slush Double Wit :rockin:

I love your ideas by the way.
Haha, it's like who would have thought "horse blanket" or "wet dog" would be used to describe a good beer. And yet, they are.
 

ScottyT

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I was hoping I could catch wild yeast with my Pokeballs (that sounds dirty).

I choose you Pacman!

PS - I have my autistic brother-in-law to thank for knowing what a Pokeball is, as that is all he typically talks about.
 
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ericd

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Hmmm you should get him to help you capture wild yeast, tell him you are going to catch tiny pokemon.
 

mew

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The yeast will evolve into something different depending on the selection pressure. You could capture yeast from the same place and use it in several different ways to make different yeasts.

For instance, you could get a highly flocculant strain by removing the yeast that falls out of suspension first and using that for a repeat of the process. Or you could slowly acclimate the yeast to higher and higher gravities. The trick is to get one yeast with all the properties you want. Of course, the evolution of the yeast would take place in small batches (maybe 1/2 liter).
 

Schlenkerla

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This is another idea on how to capture yeast. [I do my own culturing.] I made some slants where made up a good quantity agar-agar and DME for the slant media. I filled all my slants then put the rest in a sterile sauce jar. (Bushes Chilli I think...)

Anyhow the jar is half full with slant media. I could just open the jar for an afternoon somewhere. Then close it up and wait. If I got any wild yeast it will have landed on the media. Within a few days it will start growing. If that works. I will pick off a yeast sample with a sterile loop and inoculate a tiny starter. Then step it up to a gallon sized batch.

I use this method to culture.

Yeast handling and Storage

This way I don't have to mess with a liquid that is open for so long that it could have multiple infections. Its possible to pick-out a good yeast off a slant that has some mold on it. On the slant the yeast and mold look different. Usually just a pin head in size. (See picture - Has mold and yeast)




Here is a rather decent wiki on yeast culturing.

Yeast/Culturing - Brewiki
 

RGH

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This is an awesome thread! I feel like I would be able to make at least a hooch any where I might be! I cant wait to try this when it warms up! this makes me want to find my childhood microscope that I got for Christmas when I was six!
 

Freezeblade

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I've had great success with capturing wild yeasts from the skins of fruits for use in cider, my process is simple:

get an organic fruit (so far I've only done stone fruits and apples), try not to touch it with your bare hands as much as possible. Skin the fruit and place the skin into a 12oz bottle filled half-way with apple juice and a little yeast nutrient. cover with foil and shake it around every few hours or so (I don't have a stir-plate) and keep in a warm place. Once you see some good fermentation happening (3-4 days usually), shake around the starter again and transfer the liquids and trub to another 12oz with a bit more juice in it, leaving the skins behind, let starter ferment through for a few more days, then pitch into your wort/apple juice. After that batch is done, I usually wash the yeast to use again. I've found that the first batch is quite "dirty" and cleans up after subsequent washings and refrigerations. YMMV.
 

novafire

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If I were to do this, what are your recommendations on the type of beer to make to best judge the characteristics of the yeast? Something rather plain I would imagine, but any styles worth attempting first?
 

Schlenkerla

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If I were to do this, what are your recommendations on the type of beer to make to best judge the characteristics of the yeast? Something rather plain I would imagine, but any styles worth attempting first?
Plain would be right!. A balanced beer like a blonde, cream ale, kolsch, mildly hopped pale ale, possibly a wit, or american wheat. Anything that is not overly hopped or excessively malty.

When you taste the beer with wild yeast you know the beer is somewhat neutral and the bulk of the taste is coming from the yeast.

At least that's what I would do.
 

Rhymenoceros

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I live in Golden CO, maybe I could steel some of coor's yeast from the air. This sounds really cool, I might have to experiment with a small batch. I've heard wild yeast eat more complex sugars, will this make the beer have a thinner taste/ how would it affect the taste of the beer?
 

brewmonger

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I live in Golden CO, maybe I could steel some of coor's yeast from the air. This sounds really cool, I might have to experiment with a small batch. I've heard wild yeast eat more complex sugars, will this make the beer have a thinner taste/ how would it affect the taste of the beer?
It will probably thin out the body since the various wild bugs in the brew will eventually consume all the complex sugars. The more important thing, however, is that they will also make the beer a sour or tart flavor.

You really have to build a beer that is designed for this kind of fermentation. I don't think you can just take any style and expect it to turn out as a good wild ferment. It really is an art and science in itself, distinct (yet related to) conventional brewing.
 

Schlenkerla

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I live in Golden CO, maybe I could steel some of coor's yeast from the air. This sounds really cool, I might have to experiment with a small batch. I've heard wild yeast eat more complex sugars, will this make the beer have a thinner taste/ how would it affect the taste of the beer?
If the yeast can ferment some dextrines then it will be dry, more alcoholic. Possibly tart or sour. It all depends on what's naturally available in your area.

Its a roll of the dice, so start with a gallon recipe.
 

nosmatt

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i live in the forest, i would really like to try this, maybe with a couple lbs of dme... no reason to experiment with good ingredients (more importantly, time).

think i should wait till spring, on a slightly breezy day? leave say a quart of ~ 1.025-1.035 wort out on the deck railing overnight?


funny, i did this with an OG sample of a pale ale i made in the hydro tube. brought it in the next day, and about 6 hours later it was overflowin with krausen....wish i had left it, and done a fg on it just to see what happend...but, i did not :(

i guess i can do this any brew day ehh?


a use for third runnings anyone??????!!!!!!!!!????????
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Perhaps some wise brewers here know a bit about this....

Is there any way to, say, isolate or identify a lager strain? Is there any real chance of catching one out in the wild?
 

Schlenkerla

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think i should wait till spring, on a slightly breezy day? leave say a quart of ~ 1.025-1.035 wort out on the deck railing overnight? :(
Before you do this I will would make an AGAR sample. (DME & AGAR) Put this in a boiled spagetti sauce jar and then leave it outside. If you get a mold infection you know not to use the thing. You will be able to see it grow on the AGAR surface. Look at my earlier post.

When you are ready to use it, or moderately confident its not mold. Then make a 2 oz starter. Pour the starter in the culture jar when its cool. Swirl it around to dislodge the yeast then transfer it to another boiled jar. Then step up the starter sizes by no more than a factor of ten ; 2, 20, 200 oz. Etc. The pitch when you have the starter going well.
 

Schlenkerla

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Excerpt from this link; Yeast/Culturing - Brewiki




This pic shows a 10g/100ml agar mix which is quite a bit darker than what I use now (see recipe below).
  • 100 ml water
  • 1.3g agar powder (I used the stuff from an Asian store, $1.00 for 25g).
  • 7g DME (Dry Malt Extract)
  • pinch of yeast nutrient
You need to make enough to coat the bottom of a jar that you want to use.

You can get AGAR from a Chinese food store. Buy the string stuff over the powder. The powder usually has sugar in it.

AGAR is like super jello. It doesn't need to be kept cold to jell.
 

Schlenkerla

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Perhaps some wise brewers here know a bit about this....

Is there any way to, say, isolate or identify a lager strain? Is there any real chance of catching one out in the wild?
This would be a good question to ask Wyeast or Whitelabs. They certainly could tell you what the chances are in getting a lager strain.

It might be possible. Logic would say that the active wild yeast would be available while its cool.

Do the AGAR capture method I proposed then refrigerate it vs leaving it to grow in ale temps. If you get ale and lager yeasts only the lager yeast will grow and replicate through the sample. Mold will grow as well. You would need to watch for that.

My $.02 :)
 

mew

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Perhaps some wise brewers here know a bit about this....

Is there any way to, say, isolate or identify a lager strain? Is there any real chance of catching one out in the wild?

I would guess that there are many many different kinds of yeast floating around out their, some of which are lager strains. Over time (maybe not very much time), one strain will dominate. So if you select for yeast that operate at cold temperatures, the yeast the survive will likely be lager yeasts.
 

caskconditioned

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Reading this thread reminded me of a podcast I listened from the brewing network a couple weeks ago. Chris White discusses the evolution of "brewers" yeast and states that it takes many generations for a yeast to develop many of the characteristics that we look for in brewing yeast (link to podcast).

They talk about how most wild yeast that you can brew with will be very phenolic. That may explain why some folks who have captured wild yeast say they work/taste great for a wit or Belgian style beers.

So lager strains and neutral strains (WLP 001, 1056, etc) would have taken many, many, generations to develop said characteristics???
 
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ericd

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Reading this thread reminded me of a podcast I listened from the brewing network a couple weeks ago. Chris White discusses the evolution of "brewers" yeast and states that it takes many generations for a yeast to develop many of the characteristics that we look for in brewing yeast (link to podcast).

They talk about how most wild yeast that you can brew with will be very phenolic. That may explain why some folks who have captured wild yeast say they work/taste great for a wit or Belgian style beers.

So lager strains and neutral strains (WLP 001, 1056, etc) would have taken many, many, generations to develop said characteristics???
Yeah, I know when I'm lazy and don't clean out my mash tun for a couple days after I use it the spent grain in it starts to smell like bandaids (chlorophenols!)

It's all about experimenting and coming up with the style that suits what you captured the best! Remember, wild beers don't have to be sour or bretty! You can just capture wild cervesomyces if you close it off after you've got it!
 

starrfish

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Been thinking about this one...
If I leave wort on covered front porch should I cover with cheese cloth or pantyhose to keep any bigger real bugs out. I rent my house and the windows don't open (painted shut dang air conditioner dependent southern culture!) so I can't use window sill method.

Like I said I live in the south, spring time the Palmetto Bugs come out. (nice way to say big FLYING cockroaches- big shock when I moved down here... THEY FLY) would like to keep as many for these and other nasty critters out as possible, but still get a good culture...

thoughts?
 
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ericd

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Been thinking about this one...
If I leave wort on covered front porch should I cover with cheese cloth or pantyhose to keep any bigger real bugs out. I rent my house and the windows don't open (painted shut dang air conditioner dependent southern culture!) so I can't use window sill method.

Like I said I live in the south, spring time the Palmetto Bugs come out. (nice way to say big FLYING cockroaches- big shock when I moved down here... THEY FLY) would like to keep as many for these and other nasty critters out as possible, but still get a good culture...

thoughts?
Yeah it should work, I don't see why not. Remember the timeframe for the different critters and leave it somewhere that the air smells nice.
 

redear

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Stickie? I would bet this would be a rather useful thing to have at the top of the forum...
 
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ericd

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Come on mods, how about it? :mug: This thread had almost 2000 hits!
 
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