Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Yeast "washing"

I’d like some input from anyone who re-uses yeast. I’ve been reading quite a bit on the matter and have done it once or twice with reasonable success. So far I just brewed a batch that needed the same yeast right around kegging time and pitched the slurry from the previous batch. I was hoping to get a bit more scientific as well as save it in the fridge instead of letting it influence my choices of what to brew. My last batch of Saison produced a healthy cake so I tried an experiment…

I collected about 4 cups of light brown slurry from the batch which was pretty much the whole cake. I tried to “wash” it as I’ve read about by adding 2 cups of water and stirring well, hoping it would settle out in stratafied layers. I recall plenty of trub in the batch after chilling so I know the cake isn’t pure yeast, but it settled out to a uniform layer of light brown. Should I just not worry about seperating the yeast from the trub? Is there a better way to do it? What could the effect of pitching yeast with trub be? I’d like to save it 3 to 5 generations so I thought the cleaner the better, but so far this experiment is a failure. If you’re an avid “yeast harvester”, please post your process and/or advice. Thanks!!!

I start with a 2-3 gallon batch of beer and pitch one smack pack or vial and ferment out, cold-crash, rack almost all the beer off the cake, then add maybe a quart of cold, sterile water, swirl to loosen the yeast, divide into three one-qt Ball jars, and top off with a little more water if there is room (what I want is a very dilute beer on the yeast, not just water). Then I label those jars with an “A” and store in the fridge. Each jar is good for one fermenter up to an OG of maybe 1.070 (above that I pitch two) and I’ll split that cake into three jars labeled “B”. And so on.

No issues pitching some trub along with the yeast, so I don’t see any value in rinsing the yeast.

I rinse yeast all the time. Just rinsed some 1272 yesterday. Have 2 large and 3 small mason jars in the fridge right now with the yeast slowly dropping out and forming a nice white, dense layer at the bottom. I use this method.

http://billybrew.com/yeast-washing

What I like about rinsing is that when I get my final 2-3 mason jars of rinsed yeast, I know exactly how much I have. Mr.Malty will tell you how many ml’s are needed taking into account the viability/age of the yeast. If it’s all mixed with trub I’m not sure how you know how much actual yeast you have. So it’s a little extra work on kegging/bottling day, but I really don’t mind. It’s easy and save’s me a lot of money on yeast. If anything I notice I now have too much yeast and end up throwing a lot out after about 6 months or so. Sometimes I’ll trade jars of rinsed yeast for other supplies (grain, hops, etc) with guys from my brew club.

Dumb question but do you have to make a starter with the washed yeast or can you just pitch it when it warms to the proper temperature?
If you do make a starter with it, do you just do the same as if you purchased liquid yeast?

Thanks…I’m thinking of trying this to save some money but wasn’t sure.

Like new yeast packets, it depends on the age and amount of yeast. If used with in a few weeks (1-3 weeks or so) and you have enough, a starter isn’t needed. Anything past that and I think most people would agree that a starter would be needed. And yes, you’d make a starter just like you normally would. Rinsed yeast is no different than what you get from a Wyeast pack or White Labs vial. You just have more of it and it’s 2nd generation. It’s still just yeast. I’ve read many claims that yeast can get better after a few generations (generation 5 is good from what I’ve read), but I personally haven’t ever noticed any gains in next generations. After a certain amount of generations, you want to stop using the yeast because mutations can start to occur. But there is no specific timeline for this either. I’m sure you can google it and find all sorts of answers. I tend to use yeast for only a few generations. If only because I end up having many, many jars of yeast in the fridge and don’t get around to using them all. I know it’s time to dump some when the wife sees me rinsing another batch of yeast and starts eying me up like “Really? You need more yeast? The fridge is full of yeast. What’s wrong with the yeast you got?”

Of my wife? Or of a fridge full of yeast?

Hey, are we married to the same woman?

[quote=“dobe12”]I rinse yeast all the time. Just rinsed some 1272 yesterday. Have 2 large and 3 small mason jars in the fridge right now with the yeast slowly dropping out and forming a nice white, dense layer at the bottom. I use this method.

http://billybrew.com/yeast-washing

What I like about rinsing is that when I get my final 2-3 mason jars of rinsed yeast, I know exactly how much I have. Mr.Malty will tell you how many ml’s are needed taking into account the viability/age of the yeast. If it’s all mixed with trub I’m not sure how you know how much actual yeast you have. So it’s a little extra work on kegging/bottling day, but I really don’t mind. It’s easy and save’s me a lot of money on yeast. If anything I notice I now have too much yeast and end up throwing a lot out after about 6 months or so. Sometimes I’ll trade jars of rinsed yeast for other supplies (grain, hops, etc) with guys from my brew club.[/quote]

This is all well and good but it brings me back to my original problem; I really don’t see any seperation or layering, just one uniform layer of light brown creamy material. It seems like my “rinsing” didn’t accomplish anything at all. Assuming I did something wrong like not add enough water, how would you seperate one layer from another anyway? Would I be better off trying to transfer off the trub pre-ferment instead?

Sorry, “Image” was an actual image of what my yeast looks like when I wash it. Not sure why it’s not showing!

does it seperate into layers as described in the technique? Mine didn’t…

[quote=“Demus”][quote=“dobe12”]I rinse yeast all the time. Just rinsed some 1272 yesterday. Have 2 large and 3 small mason jars in the fridge right now with the yeast slowly dropping out and forming a nice white, dense layer at the bottom. I use this method.

http://billybrew.com/yeast-washing

What I like about rinsing is that when I get my final 2-3 mason jars of rinsed yeast, I know exactly how much I have. Mr.Malty will tell you how many ml’s are needed taking into account the viability/age of the yeast. If it’s all mixed with trub I’m not sure how you know how much actual yeast you have. So it’s a little extra work on kegging/bottling day, but I really don’t mind. It’s easy and save’s me a lot of money on yeast. If anything I notice I now have too much yeast and end up throwing a lot out after about 6 months or so. Sometimes I’ll trade jars of rinsed yeast for other supplies (grain, hops, etc) with guys from my brew club.[/quote]

This is all well and good but it brings me back to my original problem; I really don’t see any seperation or layering, just one uniform layer of light brown creamy material. It seems like my “rinsing” didn’t accomplish anything at all. Assuming I did something wrong like not add enough water, how would you seperate one layer from another anyway? Would I be better off trying to transfer off the trub pre-ferment instead?[/quote]

You’re not adding enough water to the yeast cake. 2 cups is just not enough. Try a gallon next time. What I do is:

  • Add about 1gal of fresh water (filtered or bottled) to the yeast cake in the primary after I rack the beer from on top and give it a good shake.
  • Let the bucket (carboy, better bottle, etc) sit for about an hour so some of the trub drops out first buy most of the yeast is still in suspension
  • Carefully pour the yeast/water/beer liquid into a 1gal jug (sanitized of course).
  • Put the jug in the fridge for about an hour or until you see the trub (darker beige to brown color) forming a layer at the bottom. If you see 2 distinct color layers at the bottom of the jub (brown, then white) then you let it sit a little too long and the yeast has started dropping out. Just give it a shake and let it sit again so the trub drops out, but not too long.
  • At this point most of the yeast should still be in suspention so you want to carefully pour off the yeast/water/beer mixture into several smaller sanitized mason jars (I usually fill about 6 or so).
  • Put these small mason jars in the fridge and let them sit for a few days. You should get a nice white’ish layer of yeast at the bottom of each jar.
  • I’ll then combine those 6 jars into about 2 or 3 depending how much yeast I actually got.

I’ve learned a few tricks. One is, don’t worry about leaving some yeast/water/beer mixture behind. The more you try to collect the more trub you’ll bring with it. Add more water to the primary then you think you’ll need. The more water, the more yeast will stay in suspension, letting the trub drop out quicker and giving you a very definitive set of layers. Dark brown trub on the bottom, yeast/beer/water mixture on top.

Some yeasts are easier than others to rinse. I just did 1272 this weekend and have 2 large mason jars and 3 small mason jars with yeast slowly dropping out. I should have enough for another 3 batches of beer. Anything that floccs slowly is easy to rinse and save. Anything that floccs to quickly is just too hard. 1968 London ESB is impossible to rinse. It drops out quicker than the drop. Looks like egg drop soup. Just impossible to work with.

[attachment=0]340151486.jpg[/attachment]

here’s the image. This is not washed yeast, but it is yeast harvested from my conical, and you can see how the sediment drops first. When you are washing, the yeast layer will not be so compact-- unless you wait too long it will be suspended in the water above the sediment. You want to wait about 20 minutes.

One trick I learned for washing.

When you drop the gal of cold water in the fermentor and swirl/shake to loosen the yeast. Your next step is to let it sit for 20 min so it can seperate. You can do this with the fermentor sitting upright but be smarter than the average bear. Find two towels or some such and lay the fermentor over on its side baced in place with the towels (or whatever you wanna use) for the 20 min of settling. This way you disturb your seperated layers much less and thus get more yeast and less trub when you go to do the pour as you are already almost in the pouring position.

Barry

Thanks guys, I’ll give it a go next batch…

Here’s some pics of my process.

viewtopic.php?f=26&t=108103&start=0&hilit=yeast+harvest

I use about 3/4 gallon of water in the fermenter. That’s a 1 gallon wine jug. I’ve noticed better attenuation with subsequent generations. US-05 is a beast and I will usually get 85% attenuation with a new pack. I’ve used 4th gen yeast and got 95%!!

Here’s a photo of my yeast during the washing process. I pour off the top two layers into a mason jar for storage and discard the bottom layer.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com