Keeping harvested yeast

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
So, I've just made possibly the best thing (Cream Ale) I've ever brewed and I believe it to be due to the liquid yeast blend I used. I took notes during the brew process! Huzzah!

I'm lazy so I left the brew in the bucket for 3-4 weeks after it finished. I got around to kegging and quick carbing tonight.

Holy cow!!! Its absolute heaven!

I captured the remaining beer and trub into a 1 gal jug and threw it into the fridge. I plan to venture out and get some distilled water tomorrow to wash it. But seeing as I can be lazy... how long can it remain dormant yet viable in the fridge? How long before I need to really ferment it again? I never want this strain to die... so damn good.....
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,793
Reaction score
5,680
Location
Solway
So, I've just made possibly the best thing (Cream Ale) I've ever brewed and I believe it to be due to the liquid yeast blend I used. I took notes during the brew process! Huzzah!

I'm lazy so I left the brew in the bucket for 3-4 weeks after it finished. I got around to kegging and quick carbing tonight.

Holy cow!!! Its absolute heaven!

I captured the remaining beer and trub into a 1 gal jug and threw it into the fridge. I plan to venture out and get some distilled water tomorrow to wash it. But seeing as I can be lazy... how long can it remain dormant yet viable in the fridge? How long before I need to really ferment it again? I never want this strain to die... so damn good.....
While I applaud you for wanting to save the yeast that made such a good brew I will suggest that the highlighted is the main reason for the clean flavor. Next time you brew one of these, leave it in the fermenter for 6 weeks and see how it tastes.

People seem to like to get the beer into their kegs as soon as the fermentation slows but there are a lot of tiny particles suspended in the beer and giving them more time to settle out really improves the flavor.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
hmm, same can be said for green beer settling into the keg and cold crashing. I've never given cold crashing a try, mainly due to space. Regardless I now see similar threads the forum has pointed out.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
If you want we can move this thread to the Fermentation & Yeast Forum, you may get more input.

But seeing as I can be lazy... how long can it remain dormant yet viable in the fridge?
It can stay in that jug, as-is, kept in the fridge (or keezer/kegerator) easily for 3-6 months, possibly a year or longer.

The yeast will lose vitality over time, due to cells dying, say 5% per month. Could be higher, could be less. So, I would start pitching at least some of your "Golden Cream Ale" yeast mix into a new batch within 3 months.

The yeast blend (the ratio of the different strains) will change over time, and certainly after repitching/fermentation, so yeast harvested from a subsequent batch will have a different makeup. Could be better, different, or just not as good.

Re: Yeast washing:
What you have in mind doing is actually "yeast rinsing" as yeast "washing" uses an acid and is done right before pitching.

What's your estimated trub/yeast ratio? If it's low in trub I'd let it be, a little trub can be advantageous. If it's mostly trub (say 50% or more), there may be an advantage to separate the yeast.
 

odie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
882
Location
CC, TX
I think yeast washing is not advantageous and provides an opportunity for contamination. Leave what you have alone. It will never get any better but can only get worse every time you handle it.

If the trub amount is high then it "might" make sense to wash the yeast immediately before pitching it.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
No idea how to estimate the ratio. Maybe just eyeballing once it separates? It's sat over night.

signal-2021-12-08-105628_001.jpeg


I'm not overly concerned of the strain changing too much. I know as things stand I can go back to the vendor. I'll definitely brew this again within the 3-6 months.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
If the trub amount is high then it "might" make sense to wash the yeast immediately before pitching it.
That's indeed the most crucial part (my emphasis ^).

Yeast could be "rinsed" before storage, but there's a much higher risk of attracting infections. Besides, yeast keeps much better under (low gravity) beer than it does under water.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Check check. I'll just date it and leave it as is and move it to the keezer. Rinse before pitch if rinsing. I promised the GF I'll have some ready for her when she's back from work in a few months, so at minimum I'll be pitching in February. It should be fine.

... regarding my brew day notes... apparently someone forgot to write them down. I just can't get good help around here. Lazy!
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
No idea how to estimate the ratio. Maybe just eyeballing once it separates? It's sat over night.

View attachment 751633

I'm not overly concerned of the strain changing too much. I know as things stand I can go back to the vendor. I'll definitely brew this again within the 3-6 months.
I know beer always looks darker in larger/wider vessels, but that beer above the yeast looks very dark for a Cream Ale (!). I'd expected your beer layer on top to look more like that in the jug on the right. ;)

What's in your yeast jug, is that the whole cake? If so, it's "fairly low" on trub, I'd estimate there's around 50% trub mixed in. I would leave that as is, no washing.

Now that frothy yeast on the top is a bit puzzling. It looks like something is fermenting. Make sure the cap is not on tight...

I'm not overly concerned of the strain changing too much. I know as things stand I can go back to the vendor.
It's a commercial blend? Which one? People here would like to know. ;)
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
I'll just date it and leave it as is and move it to the keezer.
Make sure that keezer doesn't freeze up during its cold cycles. Smaller vessels (like that jar, or beer bottles) tend to freeze up way before kegs do. Would be a shame, and make a big mess.

If in doubt, test first with a similar sized plastic container filled half full with water and a temp probe in it. Or, if you have space in the fridge leave it in there.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Yes that is just un-siphoned beer and cake from the bucket. I didn't put the lid on tight for that reason. The beer does seem a bit dark doesn't it? I think I went a bit lighter on the corn this time, but I'll never know because of the gremlins stole my brew day notes.

The yellow jug is this:

Here is the commercial source

signal-2021-12-08-112652_001.jpeg

signal-2021-12-08-112706_001.jpeg


I got it through Brewer's Pantry - Liquid Yeast
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Make sure that keezer doesn't freeze up during its cold cycles. Smaller vessels (like that jar, or beer bottles) tend to freeze up way before kegs do. Would be a shame, and make a big mess.

If in doubt, test first with a similar sized plastic container filled half full with water and a temp probe in it. Or, if you have space in the fridge leave it in there.
My keezer temperature probe sits in a mug of water. It never freezes... or evaporates very much for that matter. Though, I do live dangerously at 1.5C
 

odie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
882
Location
CC, TX
Let me ask the OP....what was the "quality" of the wort?

What I mean was how much kettle trub went into the fermenter? Did you dump the whole kettle in? Did you let it settle and only pour the top wort? Settle for how long? Did you run part/any/all the wort through a strainer/filter of some type? If so, what micron rating?

If your wort in the fermenter was trub free or has minimal trub, then washing really makes no sense.

I agree with the Lizard...that yeast looks pretty good and not too much trub. Just leave as-is. It's gonna pack down much tighter as is sits.

When you are ready to pitch, I would decant the beer on top until only 1/4"-1/2" of beer is sitting on top of the cake. Then shake it up to get that cake all lose and pourable. I would then pitch about 1/4 cup's worth of the mixture into your next beer and put the remaining yeast back in the fridge and it will settle again for the next time you need a pitch.

But your next beer will leave you with a fresh yeast cake of the same stuff.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
When you are ready to pitch, I would decant the beer on top until only 1/4"-1/2" of beer is sitting on top of the cake. Then shake it up to get that cake all lose and pourable.
That ^, except, I would not shake it up. Although she's dormant, adding air/oxygen at that point is not advantageous. Gentle stirring would be my preference.

Then perhaps transfer the remainder into another, smaller jar, to limit the headspace.

It's a mixture of one Ale and one Lager strain, apparently.
If you're really into this beer, and since we don't know which strains they used and at what ratio, so you could source them individually, or when they release a new batch, you could contact them to find out. Or experiment with likely candidates from their offerings.

I wonder what temp you fermented this at. Their recommendations are at a quite low temp range, in the typical hybrid (Kolsch-like) territory of 13-16°C (55-61°F).
 
Last edited:

odie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
882
Location
CC, TX
That ^, except, I would not shake it up. Although she's dormant, adding air/oxygen at that point is not advantageous. Gentle stirring would be my preference.
yeah...I really mean you need to get the yeast cake out of suspension so you can pour some off. When it sits for weeks and months it gets packed down pretty tight and becomes a mud cake. when you try to pitch that all the beer on top pour out and you are left with a mud pack stuck to the bottom on the jar that does not want to come out.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
I fermented without control a bit high, about 18-20C. As for filtering the wort, I've never tried settling or filtering. I just let it rip out from the bottom of the BrewZilla into a bucket with a couple feet of drop for aeration.
 

Oleson M.D.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
185
Reaction score
175
Your yeast pictured looks to be pretty clean, so you should be good to go. Do not sweat it, you will be fine.
We have stored yeast this way for up to 5 or 6 months.
But for the absolute best results, you might want to brew again...right away...and pitch this yeast.
Repitching fresh harvested yeast is amazing, as it takes off like a Redstone Rocket.
 

GrowleyMonster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
340
Reaction score
225
No idea how to estimate the ratio. Maybe just eyeballing once it separates? It's sat over night.

View attachment 751633

I'm not overly concerned of the strain changing too much. I know as things stand I can go back to the vendor. I'll definitely brew this again within the 3-6 months.
I just got up, still having my morning cappuccino and for a second there I was like WHOA! Holey Crap on a Cracker that's a LOT OF YEAST from one batch of beer! Then I realized it was a gallon jug and not a 6 gallon carboy!

The strain will change but no biggie. It will adapt to your ingredients and brewing temp, mostly. A mixture will often see one yeast or the other sort of take over. My current yeast started out with me pitching HotHead into a batch with a gravity higher than what one pack is supposed to be good for. So I did a braces and suspenders approach and also pitched a pack of dry BE-256 sorta just to be sure. HotHead really likes temps in the 90's and my fermentation setup is with no temperature control, inside an air conditioned house at around 72 or 73 degrees, more like where the Belgian ale yeast thrives. The BE-256 definitely seems to be taking over a bit more with each generation, but that's perfectly okay. It takes off vigorously but not out of control and is mostly done after 3 or 4 days and all the way done after three weeks, and the results are delicious. It would be interested to pitch outdoors in 80's or 90 degree temps and see if the HotHead comes back to the fore or not.

TBH the main reason I save yeast is to save money, but if it made sucky beer then that would be false economy. I have begun using starters, though. I just mix up a high gravity base with DME in a quart of water, chill it a bit, and add 2/3 cup or so of the yeast. I do give it a big ol swirl first, since the small addition can be oxygenated and still not raise the dissolved O2 very much in the starter, if that is even really an issue. After all, I am oxygenating the wort, pouring it into the fermenter. Anyway I make my starter the day before and it comes out a bit over a quart. It is usually working hard the next day and is ready to pitch, and I dump the whole thing, liquid and all, in the wort since it is high enough gravity and color to fit right in to my beer. I may also start saving a quart or two of fresh wort from each batch and canning it in the pressure cooker so I don't have to bother with the DME anymore. Then the yeast will get started chomping on exactly the same beer I want them to get accustomed to, and I won't have to boil and chill before adding the leftover yeast, just pour starter wort and yeast in sanitized gallon jug with a stopper and airlock and let it sit overnight to wake up and breed and eat.

The starter allows me to reduce the impurities introduced with old yeast without washing or rinsing or whatever while still putting an overwhelming monster pitch of yeast into the fermenter. So I take and reserve a quart or two for future canned starter base, then add the one quart starter to the batch. There is a nice symmetry there that I like.

Pitching packaged yeast is "safer" maybe, but your yeast sort of becomes an old friend after while. As long as it's working well and you are brewing the same type of beer, no reason to change a thing. If something is wrong with the yeast, you will know it by the starter before you pitch it, and then you can instead pitch those little envelopes of dry yeast you have been storing in the butter shelf of your fridge the last several months, and start the process all over again.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
18,547
Reaction score
8,693
Location
Pasadena, MD
Then I realized it was a gallon jug and not a 6 gallon carboy!
Now I thought it was a 1/2 gallon jug, placed next to the (amber) growlers...

Inspired by what you said, looking again, the shoulder is higher than the growlers, and it looks fatter, similar to the "yellow" jug on the right. You're probably right it being a gallon jug. So I misjudged it too, but on the low side. ;)

If it's indeed a gallon jug there's more than twice the trub in there. Yeast amount is the same, regardless of vessel used. So yeah, that's actually quite a lot of trub!
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Those are 1 gallon clear glass next to 1.89L growlers on the left. Yeah, I live alone at this point in my life so my fridge is MY FRIDGE. All sorts of experiments can take priority over food. ha ha

The growlers are holding onto the dregs of old kegs I needed to empty to make more beer. LOL. Surely sometimes I like making it more than drinking it. Hmm, I don't think that's necessarily true either. Great stuff to hold onto for cooking.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Regarding this blend, all I have to say about it is "Yep". It's got some magic going for it.

While I applaud you for wanting to save the yeast that made such a good brew I will suggest that the highlighted is the main reason for the clean flavor. Next time you brew one of these, leave it in the fermenter for 6 weeks and see how it tastes.

People seem to like to get the beer into their kegs as soon as the fermentation slows but there are a lot of tiny particles suspended in the beer and giving them more time to settle out really improves the flavor.
I tend to look at keg racking as a bit of a pain, so sometimes my fermentor can sit on the cake for 1-4 weeks after fermentation is done. A lot of the time I just don't have a free keg either. So, I generally never keg right away. I don't believe that's the reason this batch is coming out so differently. I went from US-05 to this product to the Escarpment Labs blend, pretty much everything else is the same. Props to Chris Aucoin at Brewers pantry for suggesting and stocking it (actually, its his kit recipe too!). The body (lighter) and flavour are completely different on the same basic ingredients and process. I happen to have two kegs of this cream ale going, the difference is night and day. I may even just dump the first keg and do up a batch again using this yeast to ensure its repeatable. Its that much different/better.

Though I nearly always tear up if I'm dumping a large portion of a keg down the drain. If I had just a few more cubic feet in my keezer in the right dimensions, I'd be able to hold 6-8 kegs instead of just 4. That's what I get for rushing.

It would be cool to learn how to isolate and dehydrate yeast and get a good hobby share going. Sure we can mail mason jars around, but it sounds daunting especially in winter seasons. Then again, I read you can use pure glycerine addition to make freezing an option. Someone suggested using KY, but there are other adulterants (haha) in that product.
 
Last edited:
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
I know beer always looks darker in larger/wider vessels, but that beer above the yeast looks very dark for a Cream Ale (!). I'd expected your beer layer on top to look more like that in the jug on the right. ;)
Are cream ales typically light in colour?

signal-2021-12-10-132743_001.jpeg



+60:00 Min - @150F

7.5 lb Canadian 2-row
1lb flaked corn (.75lb adjusted)
0.5 lb Flaked barley
0.25 Crystal 90 (where the SRM comes from)

Sparge @170F to collect 6.5 Gal


Boil - Additions
60:00 Min - Add 0.5 oz Northern Brewer
15:00 Min - Add 1.0 oz Willamette + whirlfloc

00:00 Min - Cool. Transfer. Pitch

Its probably in bad taste to publicly post a commercial kit's ingredients. But, it was specifically written in the instructions, not just supplied as some mystery bag. I wholly believe that it needs to be shared with the greater world in general and its likely the kit is the last thing from original. I've tried to cheap out on grains with this recipe and it's never the same. Good grains = good beer. I'm not affiliated in any way, but I've had nothing but good experiences with BP.
 
Last edited:

KyBeer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
60
Reaction score
83
Regarding this blend, all I have to say about it is "Yep". It's got some magic going for it.



I tend to look at keg racking as a bit of a pain, so sometimes my fermentor can sit on the cake for 1-4 weeks after fermentation is done. A lot of the time I just don't have a free keg either. So, I generally never keg right away. I don't believe that's the reason this batch is coming out so differently. I went from US-05 to this product to the Escarpment Labs blend, pretty much everything else is the same. Props to Chris Aucoin at Brewers pantry for suggesting and stocking it (actually, its his kit recipe too!). The body (lighter) and flavour are completely different on the same basic ingredients and process. I happen to have two kegs of this cream ale going, the difference is night and day. I may even just dump the first keg and do up a batch again using this yeast to ensure its repeatable. Its that much different/better.

Though I nearly always tear up if I'm dumping a large portion of a keg down the drain. If I had just a few more cubic feet in my keezer in the right dimensions, I'd be able to hold 6-8 kegs instead of just 4. That's what I get for rushing.

It would be cool to learn how to isolate and dehydrate yeast and get a good hobby share going. Sure we can mail mason jars around, but it sounds daunting especially in winter seasons. Then again, I read you can use pure glycerine addition to make freezing an option. Someone suggested using KY, but there are other adulterants (haha) in that product.
 

odie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
882
Location
CC, TX
If it's indeed a gallon jug there's more than twice the trub in there. Yeast amount is the same, regardless of vessel used. So yeah, that's actually quite a lot of trub!
What I see in the picture looks like "just" harvested yeast. All that foam on top makes me think the yeast cake in the fermenter was swirled or sloshed up to get it all nice and lose, then dumped into that jug. It will take a while for that foam to dissipate and the yeast to compact. It will collapse to less than half what you see.

The OP will have to clarify when was that picture taken time wise in relation to it being filled.

But yes, in a one gal jug it's a bit much.

And that's a lot of wasted beer that didn't get racked.
 
OP
NightFlight

NightFlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
126
Reaction score
146
Bah, wasted beer. I've dumped whole 5 gal batches because it wasn't as good as I wanted, or the style of beer was a not one I'd do again. There's no point to drinking a beer you won't enjoy. I dump store bought exploration beers down the drain all the time. There are a lot of beers I like, and a lot I don't.

Regarding the transfer, I'd rather leave a little than suck up the trub. It's maybe a couple pint. I lost suction near the bottom and rather than shake it up close to the lees, I just stopped. Odie is correct that after racking, I just sloshed it around and dumped it into that 1gal jug using a funnel with standard sanitation practices.
 

Oleson M.D.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
185
Reaction score
175
Correct. No reason to drink beer that you do not like. I give it to the in-laws...never let a bad beer go to waste.
 
Top