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Pitching onto a yeast cake vs. saving cleaning the yeast

I am starting to explore my options on reusing yeast; the $13 I spend on lager yeast each batch is getting a little excessive (two packs of wyeast).

If I move the current primary into a keg on a brew day can I just rack the cooled wort right onto what is left in the bottom of the fermentor? Are there advantages to racking to a keg then removing the yeast, cleaning it, and storing it for another use? Or is it more of just a timing thing?

It’s a timing thing. If you have more than one fermenter, you can do what I do sometimes, which is put your new beer into a new, santitized fermenter, but use a santized mug or pyrex measuring cup to scoop the slurry from the old batch and add it to the new.

Which get pitched into a starter, right? :wink:

The biggest concern with racking directly onto the yeast cake would be flavor carryover from the trub and any leftover wort. Lagers tend to be relatively mild in flavor, so that might not be a big deal. The other problem is over-pitching, but again, that isn’t as much of a concern as it would be with an ale.

Personally I never pitch onto a yeast cake and try to always rinse and collect yeast. But that’s just me. It’s very easy and helps save a ton of $$$! I can usually get anywhere from 1 to 3 new batches of yeast from one cake. Here’s a link to a great video on what to do. Just have good sanitation practices and you’ll be fine.

^^I’m in the same camp. Even if I bottle and brew on the same day and plan to reuse the yeast from my bottled beer, I harvest, clean the yeast and the carboy and sanitize everything. If it’s an ale, I will pitch 1/3 of my harvest, for lagers, 1/2.

I’m for the other team. I go right on top of the yeast cake. I rack the batch that is done fermenting while I do the new batch’s boil. I usually only do this method twice, for a total of 3 batches from the one yeast.

All real good info!! That billy brewer video make it look to easy. Still is sort of a forigne concept but I am sure i will catch on

It’s easy. The best piece of advice I can give is after you’ve poured water in your primary and let it sit for an hour or so, SLOWLY pour the yeast/beer/water mixture into your 1 gallon jug. If you pour very slowly and just let the top layer of liquid pour, you can keep most of the trub behind. And again, after the 1 gallon jug sits in the fridge (I sometimes will leave it in there for a few hours while brewing) SLOWLY pour the liquid into the smaller mason jars. The trub will collect at the bottom of the jug at the lip and only the yeasty/water/beer mixture will pour into the jars. That’s what I’ve learned after doing this process maybe 15-20 times over the last year. Let the container sit for a while to let most of the trub settle and slowly pour to leave the trub behind.

I rack right on top but I plan my brews based on gravity and the old batch’s ingredients if Im going to do that. For example:

Lets say I brewed

Jan. 1 a pale ale with cascade and centennial hops and a gravity of 1.055

then I would brew

Jan. 20 an IPA with similar hop types in the 1.080 range or some other big beer where the old flavors would not stick out

If that makes sense. It works for me anyway.

Just harvested and pitched last night. Yet again I forgot to photo document it. I poured about 3/4gal of water into my carboy and set it sidelong on my counter. I waited 15 minutes for separation and poured the top layers into a 1gal jug. I let that sit for the duration of my brewday which was about another hour and cleaned the carboy. I poured about a third of the slurry into my new batch at about 11 pm. This morning (9am) I had a huge krausen. Luckily I installed a blowoff tube! :slight_smile:

I just don’t like the idea of ‘stuff’ from one beer being in my next beer… and the one after that and so on.

I can also get enough yeast from a single cake for another 2-3 jars. And those 2 or 3 jars of yeast can all be pitched and rinsed and collect to make another 2-3 jars each! So if all goes well, by the 3rd generation you’re up to 13 batches of yeast from only 1 pack. At $7/pack for Wyeast, that’s $91 of yeast all from a $7 pack. Of course there’s the cost of all the starters, but unless I’m brewing a low gravity beer with a very fresh pack of yeast, I’m making a starter anyway. And I use yeast for 5 generations and then dump. I’ve been told others will go further than that, but I’ve also read that 5 generations is a good stopping point. At 5 generations you could have collected and used a total of 118 jars of yeast… at $7 a jar… why wouldn’t anyone rinse and collect yeast?

So you see there’s no right or wrong way. I’ve done it both ways & to be honest I couldn’t tell the difference. But as someone else mentioned, with the “pitched on cake” method the subsequent beer was always similar to the donor beer. And as always, sanitation is paramount!! Cheers!!!

I just started washing and saving my yeast and I also collect two to three jars each time. I’m starting to get quite the nice little stash and so far have had three successful fermentations saving me about $15.

The only downside to collecting yeast is my wife always saying “Do you really need all this yeast in the fridge?”. I then tell her how much each of those jars would cost if bought new. Her response “Well ok then. As long as there’s a wheat yeast in there for my next beer.”

How long would/will clean harvested yeast stay viable?

Pitchable without a starter if kept refrigerated for a few weeks. With a starter up to a year but at that age, you’d have to do multiple steps.

I have had good experiences pitching on a yeast cake for big beers such as Barleywine, Wee Heavy, and an Imperial Pilsner.

This is a great thread full of good ideas. I have a Scottish 80 that is ready to be racked to secondary. I am going to re use the yeast cake for a Bourbon Barrel Porter this weekend (takes the same 1728 Scottish Ale yeast) I still havent decided weather to pitch directly or wash first but I am definately going to wash future batches when I dont need the yeast right away.

“I have a Scottish 80 that is ready to be racked to secondary. I am going to re use the yeast cake for a Bourbon Barrel Porter this weekend (takes the same 1728 Scottish Ale yeast) I still havent decided weather to pitch directly or wash first but I am definately going to wash future batches when I dont need the yeast right away.”

I just did something similar-- I brewed a Scottish 90, then a Bourbon Barrel Porter, pitching the porter onto the yeast cake of the 90.

For others planning this progression, I would be careful about pitching onto the yeast cake. I’ve learned first hand that 1728 Scottish Ale yeast can go big. My Scottish 90 fermented at about 55 in the basement, had a pretty low krausen and had reached an SG of about 1.018 (starting from around 1.058) over a week when I racked to secondary. After this nondramatic fermentation, I opted to pitch the 1.08 porter right onto the Scottish 90 cake at 68 degrees, then leave it in an upstairs closet that was a little warmer (between 60-65 degrees). Thank god I attached a blow off tube, is all I can say. Although I’m still a beginner with about 7 beers under my belt, this is the biggest fermentation I’ve ever had by a long shot.

I’m bummed because when I got up this morning, even though the room was about 58 degrees, my beer was up to 73 and blowing like mad. I promptly moved to the basement. Although I haven’t tasted the porter yet, I’m hoping there aren’t too many esters and that I didn’t otherwise blow this one too badly (pun intended). Next time I will definitely try washing, as suggested by others in this tread, and try for a slower fermentation, like I had with the Scottish 90. sigh. Any suggestions for what I can do to help this porter?

One benefit to harvesting yeast, whether you clean it or not, is it produces an emergency reserve for those times when you, say, throw a packet of yeast into 210* water to rehydrate :wink: .

The one thing I wonder about, though, is deciding when a harvested yeast’s characteristics are good or bad for a specific beer you want to brew. Do you harvesters worry about this, or do you just pitch what’s on hand?

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