Unsucessfull Yeast Harvest

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thebeardsmen

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For the first time I attempted to save my yeast cake from the latest batch that I kegged. I left some beer in the fermentor, swished all the goodness around, poured into a growler and waited for the separation to appear so I can pour into mason jars.

After waiting some time I didn't see any separation in colors to distinguish the yeast slurry from the hop debris. I've attached a pic. Maybe I'm just not seeing it. Should I pour this into the mason jars? Am I completely off in my process?

:mug:

Not sure why my pics come up sideways.

IMG_1987.jpg
 

Geronimo13

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Interested to see the solutions to this, i've had similar problems. I tried saving wee heavy yeast and never really noticed any separation but I used very little hops so I wonder if thats whats going on here?
 

Jayzon

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Subbed. I've never seen a discernible difference either.
 

LLBeanJ

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The cloudy beer on top of the slurry in your picture is loaded with yeast. You can pour the liquid off into another container and what settles will be mostly yeast. The idea with yeast rinsing is the heavy, unwanted stuff settles first and does so relatively quickly, leaving mostly yeast still in suspension. Usually, you only need to let it settle for 20-30 minutes before you harvest the yeast-rich liquid, leaving behind the settled trub. Do this process two or three times and you will end up with a slurry that is nearly pure yeast.

Give it another shot by shaking up the jar, then wait 30 minutes and pour off just the liquid into another jar. Let that jar stand for 30 minutes and pour off just the liquid into a 3rd jar. Put that jar in the fridge and wait a few hours and see what you get.
 

TheMadKing

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Let it warm to room temp for a few hours and then cool it again. The yeast will separate by activity.
 

rhys333

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You can just collect the slurry in jars without decanting or rinsing, and it means less handling. Check out the Simple Yeast Storage thread if you haven't seen it yet.
 
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thebeardsmen

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Thanks for the help. I'm going to give it another shot tonight and report back.
 

jfolks

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Unless you dry hopped while the beer was still on the primary yeast cake, all this separation is unnecessary, and may even be a bad idea. The nonyeast matter in your slurry is inconsequential at the homebrew scale. Just pitch about 1/3 of the cake into your next batch. All this refrigerating and decanting means you are only harvesting the least flocculant cells. Just pitch the whole damn slurry, trub and all!
 

LLBeanJ

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You can just collect the slurry in jars without decanting or rinsing, and it means less handling. Check out the Simple Yeast Storage thread if you haven't seen it yet.
Unless you dry hopped while the beer was still on the primary yeast cake, all this separation is unnecessary, and may even be a bad idea. The nonyeast matter in your slurry is inconsequential at the homebrew scale. Just pitch about 1/3 of the cake into your next batch. All this refrigerating and decanting means you are only harvesting the least flocculant cells. Just pitch the whole damn slurry, trub and all!
For the record, I completely agree with both of these posts. I save and reuse yeast all the time and I NEVER rinse it. I tried it a grand total of two times several years ago when I was new to the hobby and said to myself there's got to be an easier way. And there is.

As mentioned in the posts quoted above, by far the easiest way to reuse yeast is to direct-pitch slurry from the fermenter into a subsequent batch. You can save the slurry in jars for a month or two (maybe even longer) without having to make a starter.

If clean yeast is what you're after so that you can save it long term, just make an oversized starter with fresh yeast and save a small portion (25-50B cells is plenty) for a future starter. Repeat the cycle when the time comes to build up a new starter from that saved yeast. You can do this over and over again. I recently brewed a succession of three lagers that began with a large starter inoculated with yeast I had saved from a starter about 12 months earlier. For the second lager, I pitched slurry from the first, and for the third lager, I pitched slurry from the second. Three lagers, one starter from saved yeast, and no rinsing.
 
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thebeardsmen

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Update - I tired to give it a shake and wait... still no seperation. I poured the whole thing into 4 sanitized mason jars and put in the fridge.

Question now is - Do I need to make a starter when using these?
 

rhys333

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Update - I tired to give it a shake and wait... still no seperation. I poured the whole thing into 4 sanitized mason jars and put in the fridge.

Question now is - Do I need to make a starter when using these?
If you're using within 4-6 weeks, the you don't need a starter. Any longer a small 1L starter would be advisable. Here's a rule of thumb I follow to estimate how much slurry to use and if a starter is needed:

Harvested slurry contains conservatively 1.5B cells/ml and you can estimate approximately 15% loss in viability per month. So for 2 month old slurry you lose 30%, so 1.5B x 0.7 = ~1B cells/ml. For a standard 5 gal (19L) 1.050 ale batch requiring 200B cells, you need ~200ml of your 2 month old slurry.
 

sven945

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I'm brewing tomorrow and hoping to harvest the yeast at the end of it. I'm going to keep hops in bags, and probably rack to secondary for dry hopping so I can get the yeast cake soon after it's finished fermenting.

I've not got a huge fridge so I can't keep multiple litre jars of yeast in there so, given the rough calculation that suggests 200ml of slurry is enough for 200bn cells, could I just keep about that much in a smaller jar? I'm thinking I'd pour the slurry into a 1 litre jar, put it in the fridge for 24 hours for the yeast to drop, pour off most of the liquid on the top then pour the slurry into a smaller jar (with perhaps a layer of the liquid I poured off to protect it). For what it's worth, my brews are 12 litres, so I don't need huge amounts of yeast.

Does that sound like a plan? In future I'll probably make a larger starter and save yeast from that, rather than collecting it after a brew.

(Sorry to hijack someone else's thread!).
 

LLBeanJ

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I'm brewing tomorrow and hoping to harvest the yeast at the end of it. I'm going to keep hops in bags, and probably rack to secondary for dry hopping so I can get the yeast cake soon after it's finished fermenting.

I've not got a huge fridge so I can't keep multiple litre jars of yeast in there so, given the rough calculation that suggests 200ml of slurry is enough for 200bn cells, could I just keep about that much in a smaller jar? I'm thinking I'd pour the slurry into a 1 litre jar, put it in the fridge for 24 hours for the yeast to drop, pour off most of the liquid on the top then pour the slurry into a smaller jar (with perhaps a layer of the liquid I poured off to protect it). For what it's worth, my brews are 12 litres, so I don't need huge amounts of yeast.

Does that sound like a plan? In future I'll probably make a larger starter and save yeast from that, rather than collecting it after a brew.

(Sorry to hijack someone else's thread!).
Yes, smaller jars are fine. I pour off the excess liquid from the fermenter after transferring the beer to a keg and scoop out slurry using a measuring a cup and save it in pint jars. I figure the amount of yeast in a pint jar is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500B cells.
 

sven945

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Thanks! I'd like to have a few strains to keep going back to. Partly to learn a bit more about them, but also to save a load of money.

Something that I've wondered about though, how come these ballpark figures suggest 100ml of yeast for 100bn cells when the vials that you buy magage to get that number of cells (at least at full viability) in a much smaller package?
 
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