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Yeast Washing Illustrated

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Bernie Brewer

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It seems to me that there have been quite a few inquiries about yeast washing lately, so since I was racking/washing today, I grabbed the digital camera to illustrate one way of doing it. I have had great success with this method, so I thought I'd share. Here goes:


The only materials that I use besides regular racking equipment is this:
4 pint sized Mason jars w/lids
1 larger container for extra water
1 kitchen tongs
My old boiling kettle from my original brewing kit.





I put all the stuff- lids and all- in the pot and add enough water to cover it:




Boil it for about 20 minutes or so. This will sanitize everything as well as get rid of any oxygen in the water, so the yeasties will take a nice long nap. Then remove the jars and lids with the tongs, keeping them full of water.





Cover all the jars and let cool in the fridge for several hours, or maybe overnight.

 
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Bernie Brewer

Bernie Brewer

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Then, trying not to disturb the stuff at the bottom, fill up the larger jar that you boiled. If some of the stuff from the bottom gets in, it's not the end of the world.






Let this jar settle for 20 minutes or so, too. You'll notice some more stuff settling to the bottom again.





Then, again being careful not to disturb the stuff on the bottom, fill up the small Mason jars. Fill them all the way up.

The four on the left are the ones I did today. the one on the right is one that I did last February. It's just there to show the final product.

All that's left to do is label the jars and put them in the fridge. Then when it's time to make a starter, you just pull one out, let it warm to room temp, and decant most of the liquid out of the jar, give the rest a good shake, and pitch it into your starter..





Hope this helps. Good luck.
 

Sea

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Nice Bernie, you should write a book!

You say that the one on the right in the final pic is from Feb. I seem to have heard conflicting opinions on how long you can let washed yeast sit before you use it. What's the oldest you've used?
 

Dinbin

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Excellant Thread! Its wonderful how simple something becomes when you add a visual.:)
 
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Bernie Brewer

Bernie Brewer

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Sea said:
Nice Bernie, you should write a book!

You say that the one on the right in the final pic is from Feb. I seem to have heard conflicting opinions on how long you can let washed yeast sit before you use it. What's the oldest you've used?


Thanks all! The yeast that was washed in these posts was last washed in December of last year. I made my last two starters from that batch in mid-September, and another in early October. So that's about ten months for that generation. I've used year-old yeast before, but keep in mind that there's no guarantee that the yeast will always stay viable for so long. Also, the older it is, the longer it will take for the starter to take off. I think those starters took over 48 hours to show signs of life. I was about to give up, then I saw the bubbles:)
 

howlinowl

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I see that you are washing the yeast from your carboy.... I'm assuming that you'd want to do this with the yeast from your secondary fermenter, right?? Or can you wash the yeast from your primary also?? Sometimes I skip the secondary depending on how lazy I am, and just keg from the primary. Is there any reasoning why you couldn't use the yeast from the primary?

Allan
 

killian

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I think Palmer recommended harvesting from secondary, because there is less trub in the secondary but I have used both with little difference. the yeast from the secondary will be faster to floculate
 

Richard

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Would it be ok to just swish the water around with the yeast in the bottom of the fermentor and then pour the next batch on top?
 
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Bernie Brewer

Bernie Brewer

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This was from my secondary, but I've done it either way.

Richard, if you are going to repitch onto a yeast cake, don't add the water, just put the wort on top of the cake.
 

gyrfalcon

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This is neat, but what's the point in doing this? You can pour the yeast cake out of the bottom of the carboy and refrigerate it if you want to use it again soon too. It seems like a lot of work considering it may not ferment in your next batch. It might even potentially wreck it.
 

chainsawbrewing

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question to OP: after filling the larger vessel with the yeast from the secondary, you said
Then, again being careful not to disturb the stuff on the bottom, fill up the small Mason jars. Fill them all the way up.
i assume you mean fill the four empty pint jars with the yeast/liquid from the bigger mason jar, and not fill the four empty pint jars with the rest of the yeast/liquid in the carboy that didn't fit into the bigger mason jar.

i could see how that lack of clarification could possibly confuse people, especially when all the stuff in the secondary won't fit into the larger mason jar.
 
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Bernie Brewer

Bernie Brewer

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brian williams said:
question to OP: after filling the larger vessel with the yeast from the secondary, you said

i assume you mean fill the four empty pint jars with the yeast/liquid from the bigger mason jar, and not fill the four empty pint jars with the rest of the yeast/liquid in the carboy that didn't fit into the bigger mason jar.

i could see how that lack of clarification could possibly confuse people, especially when all the stuff in the secondary won't fit into the larger mason jar.
You're right, that was a bit confusing, but you assumed correctly. Thanks for clearing that up. :mug:
 

kappclark

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I especially like the idea of boiling everything together, and of de-oxygenating the water to let the yeasties sleep ...

Pictures esp helpful...I have the flask, now I will get the tongs and start washing after I rack this weekend ..

What *will* I do with all the $$ I save ??

How long can you store the yeast ? 1 month ?
 

killian

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you can store until the yeast turns a peanut butter color, you can also freeze the yeast. generally people say a month or so but a lot of people store it a lot longer than that.
 

Richard

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Bernie Brewer said:
Richard, if you are going to repitch onto a yeast cake, don't add the water, just put the wort on top of the cake.
Are there any problems that could arise, or is it really that simple?
 

Bobby_M

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I'd NOT do any yeast reusing until you're quite certain of your sanitation process. If you must pitch on the cake, take a good whiff of it first and taste the beer that you just racked off. If it smells or tastes sour or bad in any way, don't risk the next batch too.
 

El_Borracho

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How much $ are we saving with this? I assume it works better for those of you using liquid yeasts?

I still don't get it :D Hah.. but I'm a noob.
 

chainsawbrewing

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El_Borracho said:
How much $ are we saving with this? I assume it works better for those of you using liquid yeasts?

I still don't get it :D Hah.. but I'm a noob.
well, i make a beer constantly called "death by dunkel" and i continually wash/reuse my yeast, and have for the last 5 batches of it, and it's gotten my total cost down to $16.95 per 5 gallon batch. basically, you just save the cost of the yeast per batch, which for liquid yeast is around $8.00 i believe.
 

El_Borracho

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brian williams said:
well, i make a beer constantly called "death by dunkel" and i continually wash/reuse my yeast, and have for the last 5 batches of it, and it's gotten my total cost down to $16.95 per 5 gallon batch. basically, you just save the cost of the yeast per batch, which for liquid yeast is around $8.00 i believe.

That's pretty nice really, I'm just starting out. So I still have to do my time, and spend my $'s.. But I'm sure when I'm brewing a batch a month this will make things nicer..
 

DAAB

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Nice how to, I wish I had seen it before I tried yeast washing.

I tend to use a very flocculant brewery yeast and washing seems to lead to collecting the least flocculant cells so you'll probably end up with a far less flocculant yeast than the original, particularly if you collect from the secondary. I prefer to skim or drop and use the yeast as is from the primary. Better still harvest from a conical if finances and or space allows.
 

oooFishy

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A few obvious questions to you guys-

After you wash yeast and store it for a while like it was illustrated, how do you then go about actually using that yeast for your next batch. I'm not really sure what a yeast starter is actually. Do you do this with dry yeast? I've only been using liquid so far...

Why do you need to let the washed yeast sit for so long before using it?



How do you get the yeast from your primary (assuming you go this method to get the more flocculating yeasties) separated from all that trub?

Also, it seems insane to pitch wort directly to a unclean primary vessel with the yeast cake already there... Or would you do this only with secondary? Anyone ever have sanitation issues?



Thanks for helping out an aspiring newbie brewer
 

IowaStateFan

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oooFishy said:
A few obvious questions to you guys-

After you wash yeast and store it for a while like it was illustrated, how do you then go about actually using that yeast for your next batch. I'm not really sure what a yeast starter is actually. Do you do this with dry yeast? I've only been using liquid so far...

Why do you need to let the washed yeast sit for so long before using it?



How do you get the yeast from your primary (assuming you go this method to get the more flocculating yeasties) separated from all that trub?

Also, it seems insane to pitch wort directly to a unclean primary vessel with the yeast cake already there... Or would you do this only with secondary? Anyone ever have sanitation issues?



Thanks for helping out an aspiring newbie brewer
A yeast starter is a mini batch of unhopped wort that you use to grow yeast. One of the first thing that the yeasties do after you pitch is to multiply. You can increase the number of yeast dramatically by making a mini wort just for growing the yeast. That way there will be enough yeast for your beer and they'll start fermenting right away and won't spend a lot of energy multiplying. Generally, people do this with liquid yeast. Dry yeast usually have a large enough cell count in a pack that you don't need to worry about a starter. The other reason to use a starter is to make sure that your yeast are still alive and viable. If they don't ferment the starter you know they're no good anymore without wasting a full batch of beer.

You can use the washed yeast immediately.

The whole point of washing the yeast is to separate it from the trub. By mixing the trub with water, the yeast end up back in suspension and the heavier hop particles and other junk settle back to the bottom of the jar. If you carefully pour the liquid off the stuff that's settled, you'll have mostly yeast in the new jar. Wait for a few days and the yeast will fall out of suspension and the bottom of the jar will have a layer of yeast on it.

As for repitching directly into a "dirty" fermenter, I've done that several times with great results. Really, the primary isn't dirty. The beer you racked out of the primary was clean, right? You're just pouring more beer into the container. The only problem that you might encounter is that some of the flavors from the previous beer could transfer to your new brew. This can be minimized by brewing the same (or very similar) beer or going for a darker style in the second beer.
 

delboy

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killian said:
I think Palmer recommended harvesting from secondary, because there is less trub in the secondary but I have used both with little difference. the yeast from the secondary will be faster to floculate
I thought it was the opposite, that yeast in the primary yeast cake are the flocculant ones and those still in solution which are in the secondary are less flocculant (that would make sense to me).
 

Dycokac

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Thanks so much for this, Took a lot of the mistique out of it.

I used a quart, and 4 pint jars and i didn't fill the 4 pints all the way up like the smaller jelly jars in the pictures, is it a problem to have head space in the jars?
 

hellfireSam

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I have a question:

if I do a starter with only one pint sized Mason jars...how many liter of beer I can do?
 
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Bernie Brewer

Bernie Brewer

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hellfireSam said:
I have a question:

if I do a starter with only one pint sized Mason jars...how many liter of beer I can do?


Depends how big the starter is. You pitch the yeast that is washed into the starter, then you pitch the yeast starter into the beer.
 

hellfireSam

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Bernie Brewer said:
Depends how big the starter is. You pitch the yeast that is washed into the starter, then you pitch the yeast starter into the beer.

I usually do 23 liters = 40 pints = 6 gal of beer... how big my starter should be ?
 
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