reusing yeast from primary

Tips, tricks and techniques regarding brewing with beer kits or extract, steeping grains, and partial mash

reusing yeast from primary

Postby sfowler » 02 Mar 2009, 22:40

Long time ago before I thought about things so carefully I would pitch a freshly brewed batch of cooled wort into a primary bucket with fresh yeast from a previous batch (e.g. just after racking it into a secondary). I always came out with good results -- but I think this is before I actually knew what a good / bad beer tasted like!

The usually sanatary issues aside, does anyone practice this regularly? I have read about the degradation of yeast causing off flavors but never experienced it.

I have never had the patience enough to capture and cultivate my yeast for later use, but perhaps this is the best way?
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby Hairy » 03 Mar 2009, 10:36

i think what u r implying is to reuse the yeast cake directly. Have read others' accounts before and some swear that the yeast can be resued this way for several times. Some even left the yeast cake in the fermenter for a few days before introducing a new batch of wort and apparently it was ok. I tried the procedure once. The kitchen ended up in a mess, and the beer, as far as I can tell is alright. Not fantastic but drinkable. The reason why the kitchen got messy is because, if you have to reuse the yeast cake directly, you will need to bottle and brew on the same day. it's no mean feat.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby Hunty » 04 Mar 2009, 13:54

if you have to reuse the yeast cake directly, you will need to bottle and brew on the same day. it's no mean feat.


not necessarily hairy mclairy ;)

after bottling, you can run some slurry samples into a sanitised PET and hold them up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator for direct pitching later on. has always worked pretty well for me

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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby Hairy » 04 Mar 2009, 23:39

well.. for me, the idea of pouring fresh wort directly on the yeast cake is so that the trouble of having to harvest the yeast and repitching the yeast again on a new batch of wort. And thus, the need to brew on the same day that you bottle. I am not very keen on doing that again because I do not usually have the need to do double batches in such quick succession. I would love to brew more but space is an issue. it always is. Haha.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby craigev » 06 Mar 2009, 17:26

i did this once ages ago. beer turned ok, but not very tasty. i read somewhere that if you just rack onto an entire yeast cake you have too much yeast and dont get the same flavour compounds generated. My beer turned out a bit bland.

Guess you could always scoop out some of the cake with a sanitized spoon and then add your wort to, say, half or quarter of a cake ?

Think the trouble with this method is you are assuming your cake is not infected through the previous ferment. If it is then yuou end up with two infected batches.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby spud » 14 Sep 2009, 14:05

5 cents worth.
I agree that the Kictchen and DC have to be looked after hairy but the way Hunty does it is very efficient.
I have done both the dump on last Brew and the drain off and safe method.

The best way for me and I dont always get to do this, I boil about 4 lt water, let her cool down in fridge.
On kegging day the new Beer is racked off the yeast, I usually try to get as much liquid out as I can ( gezz it is Beer after all :lol: ) so there isnt much liquid left behind. I add the chilled water and swirl, Lid on and attend to the Keg. I get back to the yeast pretty quickly, re swirl and drain the lot out into 3 x PET bottles, strainght into the fridge.
I try and do this on the day but it has worked the day after. If I'm not able to, I swirl the PETS and resuspend everything again.

I decant PETS leaving behind the sediment and top up the PETS again with chilled boiled water. I try not to settle them for more than 20 min for that 1st decant.
After 30- 45 minutes I drain off the clear fliud. What I have left is a milky liquid that has yeast floating in suspension with yeast starting to settle out. All the roughage & hopefully dead cells have been taken out in the 1st Decant.

As the liquid clears I drain out the clear liquid and top up from each PET to the one that has the most sediment in. I try to head for a single PET full. Once I have that, I leave to fully settle.
I leave this alone now. Ithen decant most the clear off on yeast starter day and treat the sediment as a single pack size, grow this to what I want. I try and leave about 250 ml of clear after I have racked off. I swirl the yeast up again and use this as the starter.
I have taken 6lt of slurry and raked off the milky liquid and then split the fluid up and did the above for two lots in tandum. Bloody hell've lot of work but iut worked as well.
Cheers spud
Brewing, well awaiting to be - Newcastle Nut, American Pale
Keg - Scottish 80/-, Eda's Milk Stout
Next in line - Choc /Hazelnut Porter, Dry Knickers Stout then, Classic American Pils, Kolsch.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby Hunty » 14 Sep 2009, 16:51

thansk resident, again I try the KISS approach....no fancy decanting and rinsing...reckon I'd stuff it up and contaminate the little critters in the process.

If I am using a fresh yeast. I'll do a starter to get it going, in the past this has been around 500 mls which has worked out very well for the yeasts I have used (typically lagers). Our resident alemaster has shunned this approach for very good reason, and my last one was a 3 litre starter... :oops:

what I then try to do is to time the racking of the finished brew to the brewday of the next one. I take a sample of the slurry in a sanitised mini-pet, let it settle and cool it to my desired pitching temperature for the next brew. When its time to pitch, I pour off the beer and pitch the yeast, seal and away she goes. I always take 2 or 3 samples, these can be stored in the refrigerator and pitched directly into a subsequent brew if used within 2 weeks (though have gone as far as 4 weeks with decent success :wink: ) but beyond that I think it becomes a little risky.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby spud » 16 Sep 2009, 07:43

Have to admit there is a bit of over kill in what I do, but it works for me.
Maybe should just settle once and reuse what is left after all that grass and dead stuff has fallen to the bottom.
Have to admit what I try for is that creamy looking yeast which I've read is healthy and ready to munch.
cheers spud
Brewing, well awaiting to be - Newcastle Nut, American Pale
Keg - Scottish 80/-, Eda's Milk Stout
Next in line - Choc /Hazelnut Porter, Dry Knickers Stout then, Classic American Pils, Kolsch.
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Re: reusing yeast from primary

Postby Hunty » 16 Sep 2009, 11:22

do you think that the decanting and rinsing etc really clears out the dead cells ? I am not convinced that they separate as you would like. :?:

I'd have thought it best the yeasties stay in the environment they are used to, diluting with water repeatedly and several temperature changes must be a bit of a shock to their system.

In my case I dont seem to get any grain/hops or other non yeast solids, though even then if they are inert and in small quantites I'd hope they would not spoil the next brew.
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