Making an infinite starter?

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Djangotet

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I am hoping to do two things:
1. Hopefully develop a house strain adapted to my brewery.
2. Save money on buying new yeasts by continuing with the same yeast.

If I make a starter twice as big as needed then decant and pour in about half to my beer, could I save the other half in my temp controlled fridge? Obviously it would go dormant but what if before every brew I added new wort to the slurry just like it was a liquid yeast pack. Then pitch half and repeat? Over time the strain would become more unique and if I’m careful won’t be ruined. I’m willing to spend money but I’m actually more interested in getting unique flavors on my stuff. Thoughts? What would be a great yeast for this on beers such as blondes, APAs, and IPAs in the lower temp range like 55-60? Thank you!
 

Kickass

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You could definitely do it. There might be challenges but that’s the fun of homebrewing. Things I’d be concerned with:

A contamination would require a complete restart, unless you like the character of that.

Possibility of undesirable mutations.

Difficulty of maintaining a healthy “mother” if you’re not brewing frequently enough.

If you get it right, however, I imagine it’d be pretty rewarding. Good luck.
 

Dog House Brew

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You wouldn’t have to even double your starter. I do this with every starter I make. I slightly overbuild my starter, crash over night, pitch my batch. I then use what coats my flask to build my yeast for saving. I keep my yeast in pints and half pints under wort. I generally pull and rebuild every 6 months if I’m not using. It works for me. I make sure the AC/heat is off so it isn’t blowing, and make sure I’m as sanitary as possible. I have 4 stains I can’t buy that I’ve kept going for close to 10 years.
 

brewman !

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You wouldn’t have to even double your starter. I do this with every starter I make. I slightly overbuild my starter, crash over night, pitch my batch. I then use what coats my flask to build my yeast for saving. I keep my yeast in pints and half pints under wort. I generally pull and rebuild every 6 months if I’m not using. It works for me. I make sure the AC/heat is off so it isn’t blowing, and make sure I’m as sanitary as possible. I have 4 stains I can’t buy that I’ve kept going for close to 10 years.

Wow, 10 years! That is pretty impressive. Thanks for sharing this.

I want to do something similar. What are you storing your banked yeasts in ? How are you ensuring the storage container is sterile ? Are you freezing your yeasts or storing at a low temp ?
 

Dog House Brew

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I froze all of my yeasts and thought I’d have them for years. I had a manual defrost freezer. I learned a lesson when the freezer died. I lost the yeast and a mountain of meat and homemade sausage. I luckily still had a pint jar of slurry of each from when I grew them for freezing. I decided I’ll just keep slurry going and ditch the frozen for now. I usually put a few pint, or 1/2 pint jars in my canner. I’ve even ran them through the sanitize cycle in my dishwasher. StarSan them and fill with slurry. I’ve never had any infection with either process. I don’t tighten the rings too tight when I first put them in the fridge. I use a small dorm fridge for my slurry. Works great for yeasts I can get that I love. All others I just buy fresh.
 

palmtrees

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I do this with every beer I make. I make a larger starter than I need, cold crash it, decant most of the wort, use 2/3 of the slurry for my batch, then save the other 1/3 in a sanitized pint jar. (I usually pour the decanted wort into a sanitized container so I can top up the pint jar, if necessary, then the rest goes down the drain.) I keep the pint jars in my kegerator until I'm ready to use again.

I have four strains that I use frequently, and those I have kept rolling for nearly two years now. The others I use less frequently, I have to be more conscious about restarting them if they've been sitting a few months. I have only had one jar go bad so far, but that was a strain that I originally bottle cultured, so there may have been some extra risk factors there.

I love this process because I'm never caught without yeast! It's so nice to not spend money on it all the time. And the overbuilding starters method is much easier for me than collecting yeast from a fermenter because I dry hop a lot. Just doing starters means there's no hop gunk anywhere.

I will caution you that I haven't really noticed the yeast changing character over the two years I've done this. So if developing a unique house strain is your goal, I'm not sure this would accomplish it. Also if you're hoping to use the same strain for years, I'd probably keep several samples of it around in several different fridges as an insurance policy.
 
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