Yeast rinsing

I’m looking to save the yeast from a blonde ale I have in the primary. I figured it was a good beer to harvest the yeast from since it wasn’t big or hoppy. I pitched wyeast 1272 American Ale II. Are there any tips for this process? I’m going to make my first attempt at it in a few days. I bought pint mason jars but I might pickup a couple 1 gallon growlers for the first pour off.

I ferment in glass carboys. I tilt the carboy with a piece of 2 × 4 a day or two before I rack to the bottling bucket. This reduces the surface area of the beer as the siphon nears the yeast layer… After bottling I swirl the contents of the fermentor and pour into a quart jar. Sometimes there is some yeast left in the fermentor, but a one quart harvest is enough. After a couple weeks in the refrigerator there will be about 375 ml of compacted yeast in the jar. I store the yeast in the quart jar. I use a syringe to draw yeast from under the beer in the jar for the next brew or to make a starter.

I strain hop debris and cold break during the pour into the fermentor to have clean yeast to harvest.

1 Like

Ditto what Flars said. Washing is a waste of time. Return those pints and get quarts

Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but since I usually do the primary fermenting in buckets, I usually just scoop out some of the yeast cake and use the little “jelly” mason jars anymore. Either that or pints. I’ve found if I stir it around a little after siphoning off the brew, once it sits, there’s a little layer of beer on top. To re-pitch, I just dump the whole thing. Or if I’m going to be pitching another beer right away and use the same yeast, I just scoop out most of the yeast cake and dump my “new” beer in.

A lot of beers will calculate to need at least 400ml of slurry. So if you leave a cap of beer on top a pint would be kind of small that’s why I use the quarts. Some bigger beers May nee 500ml or more so I try to save at least 600 ml per jar. I feel better to have more and not use it all. But the small jelly jars sound way to small.

And sanitation is of the utmost when handling yeast. I have a SS trough, maybe big enough to do wallpaper, I will put star san in, then the jars also, filed to the top! I wash my hands frequently in that also. Clean all along the way! Sneezles61

1 Like

It seems easy enough but is it worth the trouble? I don’t mind spending the $6-7 dollars on liquid yeast but it seems like a waste to discard the yeast cake. I like the idea of harvesting yeast from what I’ve read in the Yeast book.

I agree. Why buy yeast when it’s free for the taking. My theory is the yeast slurry are all the yeast cells that like you water so the do better from batch to batch. I usually get better attenuation from my harvested yeast. Another thing is making yeast starters requires planning I’m more of as the spirit moves me kind of Brewer.

I’m repitching lager yeast as I wanted to try the “other” side of brewing. I usually make ales. When I make ales, I do starters that I would be able to cut in half, reserve one in the fridge and the other to pitch. Sneezles61

I find that in many cases, the later generations of yeast produce better beers. I haven’t done controlled variable experiments or anything, but the yeast basically gets heartier and accustomed to its job a little more. FWIW John Kimmich shares this opinion.

It can work out to pretty significant savings. I honestly pour some water (sometimes pre-boiled, sometimes not) into the sludge at the bottom of the fermenter, swirl around, and dump gently into a sanitized mason jar, with a sanitized lid/ring.

One of the main reasons I harvest is I will brew 5G batches and use yeast for 1/2bbl batches that we brew. Depending on what we are brewing we will often need liters of slurry.

So I racked the blonde ale from the primary today and harvested some yeast. I took 2 sanitized pint mason jars and scooped about a full jar and about 3/4 of the other. I sealed them up and put them into my sanitizer bucket while I boiled and cooled about 1 quart of water. I sanitized a growler added the quart of water into it and dumped the jars of yeast cake into it. Shook it around to break up any clumps and its separating as we speak. I don’t think I will rinse it again after I pour from the growler into 4 pint jars. I will just decant the liquid off the top and make a starter with it before I pitch.

This is my first effort at yeast rinsing. WY 1056 from a five gallon brew of American Amber Ale. The pint jar is roughly marked in milliliters.

The method I use now. This harvest is WY1056 from a five gallon brew of Dead Ringer.

Pour of one quart directly from the carboy fermentor.

Harvest after one week in the frig. The beer on top of the yeast isn’t really that dark. Just trick photography.

I use a 60 ml veterinary syringe to draw yeast from below the beer for starters. The yeast stores well in a 36°F refrigerator. I’ve only lost one jar of yeast by accidentally dropping some sort of contaminant into the jar before sealing.

1 Like