Is harvesting and washing yeast really worth the effort?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Christopher Brown, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. Christopher Brown

    Christopher Brown New Member

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    It doesn’t seem worth the time. I feel like buying new yeast may be expensive but more convenient.
     
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  2. Medarius

    Medarius Active Member

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    Depends on how often and how much you brew, I would think. If you're brewing one 5 gal batch a month, it probably isn't worth the effort. If you're a pro drinker (which I am not) and have to brew a big batch every week it probably is worth the time to learn a proper harvesting/ storing techniques of yeast harvesting.
     
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  3. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Also matters why you brew too. If you want to explore brewing as a hobby then you should at least try it. If you want to pop out a few batches a year just for enjoying, more trouble than it is worth.
     
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  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned above, depends on your budget and what you want to do. I don't - I brew too many varieties to reuse the strain multiple times. Others do, either they want to save the approx $9 US for yeast for each brew (dry yeast is half that) or they have a strain that performs well for them or they just want to check out harvesting yeast as a part of their brewing. All are valid reasons to harvest or not to harvest. It depends on your budget and your brewing.
     
  5. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    If you plan multiple brews with the same strain, it may well be worth harvesting yeast. As for washing yeast, if you're referring to multiple settle out and transfer steps, which really isn't yeast washing, I think that's a total waste of time as well as too many opportunities for contamination.
    Just pouring slurry into sanitized jars or a single rinse are much less time consuming and work just as well with much less exposure. Another alternative is overbuilding starters.
    Whatever you choose to do, whether cost related, time related or just a matter of choice, it's your hobby. Do with it what you want.
     
  6. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    "Washing" yeast is generally done by using an acid wash, etc. Rinsing it with water is sometimes done, but it really doesn't help the vitality of the yeast.

    What I do is rack the beer into the keg, then pour the trub into sanitized glass jars. A pint jar full of thick yeast is enough for an 11 gallon batch the next time. And usually I get at least four pint jars after fermentation. So yes, saving the yeast is definitely worth it for me.

    I buy yeast about twice per year, spring and fall, and usually 2 or 3 strains. From one $8 pack, I can use it once in a 5 gallon batch (and a different strain in the other 5 gallons and then save that one too), and then use it in an 11 gallon batch, etc- for about 3 generations before I just have too much yeast in my fridge. I probably spend about $40 a year on yeast, or less. And I don't have to make starters since a pint jar is enough for 11 gallons.
     
  7. Shepington

    Shepington Member

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    I do mine like Yooper collect the trub pour it into the next batch it worked out well that I harvested from a very hoppy IPA and pitched it into a Black IPA for the second run but after that it was done the flavors or at least the smell the roasty black IPA created I wouldnt want in another batch so you just have to plan how you are going to use your yeast, If I'm going to harvest I use my Catalyst since I can just shut the valve pour off the excess and cap the jar. Is it worth the time? Yes because it takes 5 seconds and I dont have to worry about underpitching
     
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  8. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Hey Lorena...how long are you saving trub for a typical batch and how does your pitch rate compare with the yeast calculator? I also check with the Mr. Malty calculator that has a viability percentage by date function that seems to help.
    I prefer to get something re-pitched within a month or less but like you, I'll save several pints off of one batch and have at least 2-3 strains saved at any given time. That means that something may have bneen sitting for up to 6 months before I cycle through the last of it.
     
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  9. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I do use the yeast calculator for slurry, and it sure seems to work well for me. I throw the yeast away after about 8 months, but sometimes I forget and it stays in there longer.
     
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  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I never thought about just jarring the slurry, that seems handy. I always overbuild my starter and store the extra. But I brewed 50 times last year, some were 5 gallon and some were 10 gallon batches (21L and 42L really). I bought 2-3 yeast packs in that time frame so I saved upwards of $500 in that time frame.

    Not life changing but significant.
     
  11. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I'm using the slurry in a mason jar approach for two reasons, getting enough yeast for the imperial stouts and trying to create my own saison culture. The standard saisons don't do it for me so I'm culturing up commercial dregs and first brew should be soon, so I'll have to keep that one myself. For the imperial stouts I could do a starter, but the yeast slurry approach is just so much easier.
     
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  12. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    Harvesting is definitely worth the effort. Washing, no. As long as you aren't pitching yeast from a stout into a blond ale. Blond to stout is fine. You might get too much color from the stout in the blond, so go color to same color or lighter to darker color and it works fine.
     
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  13. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I haven't had the courage to try harvesting and reusing yeast yet. How will I know for sure that what I have harvested isn't contaminated? A brew day is such a significant investment of time. I would actually be devastated if a batch ended up being a dumper because I tried to save a few $$$
     
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  14. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    You don't know what the water is like until you dip your toe into it.
    Think about the exposure your wort gets while chilling. 'Nuff said.
     
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  15. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    i've done more than 50 batches worth with recycled or stored yeast without issue. It's pretty obvious if there is contamination when you go to use the stored stuff.
     
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  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    It's all in how you handle the slurry. After you rack beer off the yeast cake, there's still a little left to swirl around and loosen the sediment. When it's nice and loose and well mixed, pour carefully into sanitized jars and seal them right away. If you've managed to transfer beer into a bottling bucket and dozens of bottles without having a dumper, you can manage a simple pour into a few pint jars. ;)
     
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  17. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Considering how many "Best practices" I seem to violate making my starters I don't think you have a lot to worry about.
     
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  18. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Add you can pick a batch where you can use some US-05 as a backup. Always handy to have a few packets of that around.
     
  19. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    What a stud! I thought I was busy with 20-25 brews, you've put me and some others to shame. Harvesting is worth it when you brew that often.
     
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  20. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I feel bad, like I hijacked this thread...
    I guess it is on topic though, hope the OP doesn't mindo_O
    Thanks for all of the encouragement to try harvesting yeast. The NEIPA I have fermenting now has OYL-052 DIPA yeast chugging away (LHBS was out of the Foggy London...), I am going to give it a go when it is time to keg this batch.
     
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