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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * September 2, 2003 * Repitching yeast questions < Previous Next >

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Another beginners yeast questionDavid Beckerdite04-12-03  03:32 am
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Matt Harrington (24.125.98.167)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 06:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

HI, I read that you can bottle up the sludge from the bottom of the secondary fermenter and re-use it at a latter date. I also read that it will last for a couple months bottled up in the frig, all you have to do is re-power it with wort before use. Then a guy at the brew store said it will only last 5 days unless you constantly add wort to it once a week. I'm trying to conserve a strain of Wyeast so that I don't have to pay an arm and a leg for another slap pack. Will this refrigerator method work?
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 06:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You are basically correct, although the primary yeast is preferable to that from secondary. But if the secondary yeast is what you have now, go ahead and use it.
 

bill vizzachero (165.123.243.168)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 06:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Matt, I have repitched yeast in this fashion many times without any problems. I don't have the exact time it sat it the frig. but I would say at least 1 month. I usually boil 1/3 c. DME in a pint of water, cool it and then "wake the yeast" up one to two days before brewing.
I usually can tell by the taste and smell of the beer above the yeast if it's worth starting a brew.
 

Matt Harrington (24.125.98.167)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 07:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ok, so it sounds like I can store the sludge for about a month. Bill pierce, you said I am basically correct, do you mean correct about being able to store it w/o constantly feeding it or not being able?

For novice question number two: Assuming that I get a petty large amount of sludge from the first ferment, how much of it do I use when I wake it up for the next use? Is there a sludge to wort ratio or do I just mix the starter wort with all the sludge?
Thanks for the help. - Matt
 

Doug Pescatore (141.232.1.10)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 07:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Matt, I have bottled the yeast sludge using a bottle and a cap much like you would beer, but I have heard that I was lucky that I did not end up with a bottle bomb. I have been told that some yeast will keep on producing CO2 for a little while after being shoved in the fridge. Use a sanitized mason jar and save as much as possible. I have repitch yeast saved this way 6 months later without a problem. When you wake the yeast up, use the entire slurry/sludge for that batch. When that batch is done in the primary, just collect it again.

I have Chimay yeast that I cultured a year ago that I have recollected several times over that year.

-Doug
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 08:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Use a sanitized mason jar. Spoon about an inch of yeast sediment into the bottom and cover with beer (any beer) if you will be reusing the yeast within a matter of weeks, or sterile (boiled and cooled) distilled water for longer term storage (up to 18 months). Use it to make a starter by pouring off the liquid and adding the sediment to the starter wort.
 

Tacoma Brewers (131.191.30.87)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 08:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Why only an inch, Bill? If you filled the Mason Jar about 3/4 full (about 4-5" I think), cover with beer or distilled water, you shouldn't have any problems right?

Now, as far as spooning, do you pour all the sediment from the carboy to a sanitized open container, and spoon from there?
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 10:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was taught that the optimal storage medium was 10 percent yest sediment and 90 percent sterile distilled water. My thinking is that you could probably store as much sediment as you wish if you are going to reuse it soon. My guess is that the risk of yeast autolysis increases over time.

I use a narrow long-handled spoon if I am harvesting from a carboy, but most of the time I harvest the primary yeast from a plastic bucket, which makes the process very simple.
 

Matt Harrington (24.125.98.167)
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 11:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks guys, this is the most helpful web site and group of people!!
 

Matt Harrington (24.125.98.167)
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 09:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Alright, I have a few more questions to make sure I do this right:

Should i use an Airlock when storing it in the refrig or just seal it?

Also, after storing it with the 1 to 10 ratio, when I go to use it, do I just dump the water out and add starter wort to the sludge on the bottom?

Then, can I store some more of the sludge from the new batch I make for later use?

Lastly, if my starter gets around 1000 to 1500 ml, is that much liquid going to change the beer tast?

Thanks
 

Paul Hayslett (64.252.38.30)
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 02:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Matt,

I've stored yeast this way a number of times and re-used it up to 6 months later with no ill effect. One jarful "went funny", but it was totally obvious as soon as I opened it (strong smell of latex gloves), so it never went into any beer. Other batches made from stored yeast have been just fine.

No need for an airlock, but don't wrench the top down tight. Some CO2 will bubble out for a while. You don't want it to explode in your fridge. You could also use sanitized Saran wrap and a rubber band for a couple of weeks, then screw a top down over that when it has settled out.

Yes, you can add your starter wort to the same jar you stored it in. Just be sure to sanitize around the neck and opening. Your fridge contains lots of beasties that are sure to have colonized the outside of the jar.

You can repitch the same yeast 3 to 5 times, if your sanitation is good. Just keep harvesting and re-using. If you also split the sludge into several jars, you can make one pack of yeast last a long time. Personally, I'd get bored using the same yeast strain for that many batches, but that's me.

A big starter will change the way beer tastes. Make it early enough so that it can clear a bit before brewday (some people say stick it in the fridge to crash cool it but the resulting suckback makes me nervous -- see above note about nasties in fridge) and pour off most of the liquid. Swirl the last bits to loosen the sludge and just pitch that.
 

Paul Hayslett (64.252.38.30)
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2003 - 02:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tacoma,

Don't fill your mason jars too full!! I've done that ("I just can't waste all that beautiful yeast!") and had a mess. When it warms up, a bunch of CO2 will come out of solution. Then when you open the jar, yeast will flow up and out of the jar like a volcano. Big mess, possible infection, etc.

Keep your jars no more than about 1/3 full.
 

Mike Pensinger (138.139.35.101)
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 06:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Another good storage device is the tubes that White Labs yeast comes in. your local brew shop can order new plastic caps that will fit them and they are heavy duty plastic.

I sanitize them and a 1 qt mason jar. Fill the mason jar 1/2 full of slurry and top off with sterile distilled water. Swirl it up good and them pour off as many tubes as you want to save. You should get about half a tube of sediment from each. Make a starter just like you would with a normal tube. If you have any left in the mason jar, make a batch of beer and pitch it straight in.

Mike Pensinger
beermkr at pensinger.net
http://www.pensinger.net
 

Matt Harrington (68.0.22.23)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 12:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good Idea Mike!!
 

Matt Harrington (68.0.22.23)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Does the water have to be distilled or can I used bottled spring water?
 

Dan Mourglea (68.115.142.15)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 03:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

if you are going to use most bottled water you'd just as well use your tap water as most bottled water comes from municipal water supplies. Words like "spring" and such are hype and there are little to no regulations to promote truth in advertising. Obviously distilled water is a different ballgame, though. Most tap water is suitable for use, but on the other hand getting a jug of distilled water for a $buck or so is a cheap guarantee.
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 04:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Normally I believe that tap water is acceptable in terms of sanitation. After all, if it is safe to drink it should not be harmful to beer. However, in the case of yeast storage and propagation I believe it pays to be more careful. The yeast are going to multiply many times, with a corresponding increase in the bacteria count as well. I would rather use boiled and cooled distilled water that I know is almost sterile.
 

Matt Harrington (68.0.22.23)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 04:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi, thanks for the replies. I emailed the Wyeast Lab with the same Repitching question and they gave me some detailed re-pitching instructions. If you want to read them, here you go:

Here is what I would do. Rack the beer before it reaches its final gravity,
maybe day 4,5 or 6. Then, let the beer finish in the second carboy free from
all the trub and cold break that had settled in the primary fermenter. After
the beer is finished and conditioned for 3- 4 days (ales) I would try and
chill the beer to get the yeast to settle out. Rack off the chilled beer to
bottling or kegging. Now the residual yeast in the secondary fermenter
should be pretty clean. You could harvest this yeast and beer and store it
for a week or so in a sterile container, or you could give it a quick wash
with 2-4 pints of distilled water.
If you were washing you would add the water, slosh the yeast around for a
minute or 2 an then let it sit. The trub, dead yeast and hop particles will
settle first. While the liquid is still nice and yeasty, decant off the
liquid into a sterile container and allow this to settle out in the
refrigerator. I would then decant off the clear water and make a starter
culture with the yeast slurry using a low gravity (1.030-40) wort made from
DME. When this starter is all fermented out, you can store the yeast and
beer as is for a few weeks. You will probably need about 30 -500 mls of this
yeast for another 5-6 gallon batch.
It is best to harvest yeast off beers of moderate gravity and not high alc
beers. Let me know if you have more questions and if this makes any sense.
Just make sure that everything that touches yeast is sterile. Good luck.

Sincerely,

David Wendell
Wyeast Laboratories
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I continue to maintain that yeast washing or separating is very largely unnecessary. And I also believe that the primary yeast is the healthiest and most like the original strain.
 

Fredrik (213.114.44.196)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 11:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I read this thread and it was interesting to see that you use distilled water. Are there no risks of damaging the yeast this way due to osmosis? what if you take some yeast out of a starter while they are full of glucose? any chance that one could have a few pop under the microscope?

/Fredrik
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 11:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not aware of any such danger, Fredrik. The thinking is that distilled water is totally devoid of nutrients or trace minerals and serves as a good storage medium because it allows the yeast to go dormant.
 

Fredrik (213.114.44.196)
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 11:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks. This means I got rid of the other idea I had of popping cells.
 

Steve McCloud (12.168.192.213)
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 09:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm definetly with Bill on this one. I just pour what settles in the primary into a quart mason jar and store it in my serving fridge @ 35 deg. Trub and all. It won't hurt a thing. I used a jar of 2206 that had been stored for over a year with no problems. Some people advise distilled water but letting the beer from the primary rise to the top seems to work very well for me.
 

LouisianaGeorge (134.163.253.126)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I plan on using 5-gallon kits for two 2+ gallon batches. After the first batch has been in the primary for a week, I'm going to rack it to a secondary fermenter and pitch the second batch right on top of the yeast cake in the bottom of the primary. Will this work, or am I setting myself up for off-flavors in the second batch due to the presence of the trub?
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 02:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you saying you intend to use the primary yeast from 10 gallons of beer for two batches of about 5 gallons total? That should be more than enough yeast. As for the trub, don't worry about it. It will not affect the flavor of your beer.
 

LouisianaGeorge (134.163.253.126)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 03:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No. I'm saying that I've purchased a 5-gallon beer kit, including a large smack-pack of Wyeast. I'm going to split the ingredients into two batches. I will then:

1. Brew the first batch.
2. Pitch the entire smack-pack.
3. Leave the beer in the primary for 1 week.
4. Rack the beer to the secondary fermenter.
5. Brew the second batch.
6. Pour the cooled wort onto the yeast cake from the first batch.

I'm currently out of home-brew, so I'm going to RDWHAmicroB.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No problem, George. Relax and enjoy!
 

Doug Pescatore (141.232.1.10)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 03:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

LG, You have it right. Make sure the first batch is done before racking. The second will ferment faster. Until then, become a beer hunter. I did this for a while and found I love Belgians (beers) as well as classic pilsners.

Have fun....

-Doug
 

Chris Colby (66.25.197.116)
Posted on Friday, August 15, 2003 - 07:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Frederik asks:
"Are there no risks of damaging the yeast [by storing it in distilled water] due to osmosis?"

Hey Frederik,
A common lab experiment in introductory biology classes is to place red blood cells in very salty water, moderately salty water (equal to the saltiness of blood) and pure water. (In scientific terms, in hypertonic, isotonic and hypotonic solutions.)

The red blood cells in the "middle" solution retain their shape, as the flow of water into and out of the cell is equal. The cells in the salty solution shrink as water leaves the cell. The cells in pure water expand as water rushes in and they eventually rupture.

Yeast cells in pure water won't rupture, however, because yeast have a rigid cell wall surrounding their cell membrane. When the cell membrane expands, it is eventually restricted by the cell wal -- a little like if you blew up a balloon inside a wire cage.

The yeast may experience some sort of physiological osmotic stress in pure water, but they won't "pop." And, in practice, this method of storing yeast is widely used.


Chris Colby
Bastrop, TX
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.114.50)
Posted on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 06:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

try the "yeast bank" I ordered it and love it. I now have several yeast strains "banked" and use up little room in my freezer

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