Yeast from Secondary

I had asked this question on another forum about a year ago, and the responses I received were a little surprising, and I’ll explain why.

My question was, is it possible to consider harvesting yeast from a secondary vessel, as it would stand to reason that it would be pure yeast, without having to “wash” of any trub? When I rack to a secondary, and I let it sit, there is always a thin layer at the bottom of the vessel that is pure yeast.

The responses seemed to be centered around the idea that yeast left behind in a secondary is more “spent” and it was that yeast that was left behind to “clean up”. I get that…however…

Recently I successfully harvested and cultured a great batch of Conan from 2 cans of Heady Topper, and I got to thinking, how is this any different? I know that Heady is unfiltered and then chilled, so perhaps the chilling is the difference.

Does anyone else have an opinion on this? I have never done it (harvested from a secondary).

I think the concerns are somewhat over-stated. The yeast in secondary are less flocculent than the ones that fall out in primary. By harvesting from secondary, you’re selecting yeast that are less flocculent so each sequential generation will be less and less like the original strain. If this isn’t a concern to you, then go right ahead and harvest from secondary!

I’ve had really good luck harvesting yeast from Bell’s bottles as well. Since the original strain isn’t really available to us homebrewers, it doesn’t make much difference to me if my harvested yeast is less flocculent than what they use in the brewery.

For a while I was harvesting yeast from secondary and using it with no issues whatsoever. I stopped once I found that ‘washing’ yeast from the primary was a totally unnecessary exercise which didn’t impact the quality of the finished beer anyway, and I was then able to take advantage of the larger quantity of slurry from the primary if necessary.
If you do elect to use secondary harvested yeast, just make sure your sanitation is everything that it should be.