How to Collect and Re Use Yeast

Many brewers search endlessly for that one secret that will magically make them the world’s best brewer… after brewing for years I’ve found that there isn’t one single thing that transformed my brews…

Improving my brews has been a matter of practice and putting together various different techniques to brew… which is what I teach in Better Home Brew Formula…

… but if I had to single out a thing or two that has dramatically improved the overall quality of my beers, I would say re-using yeast along with temperature control is about as magic bullet as it gets…

If you have yet to harvest yeast and reuse it on other batches, and you want to see an improvement on your brews then I recommend you try it…

Today I want to show you how easy it is…

Here’s a video a put together on how to collect and reuse yeast

A few tips to make this non stressful and keep you from ruining a batch…

When dealing with yeast, cleaning and sanitizing become quite important… I’ve seen brewers who take this to an extreme though and sterilize everything…

Unless you are trying to grow a culture from a small sample of yeast, then sanitizing should be more than enough…

I find that as long as your containers are clean and sanitized and that the water you use to rinse the yeast is boiled sanitized, then you will have no problems…

Harvesting yeast should be done in a non-windy, dust free environment to avoid airborne bacteria from landing in your jars…

If you get all that right, then the next thing to ensure your yeast holds out if you plan on storing is to make sure that it is clean… that means you should avoid carrying over any trub along with your yeast and that will help keep your yeast alive longer without mutating…

Following these simple steps will help you store your yeast if you need to and allow you to reuse the yeast later…

I’m in the middle of an experiment to see exactly how long does yeast really hold out for…

Personally I’ve only stored yeast for a month, but after talking to other brewers and getting emails about my experiment I’ve heard of brewers going as long as 4 to 6 months and up to a year!

I’ll be taking notes as far as viability and quality of beer, so stay tuned…

Cheers!

14 Comments

  • Soapman

    Reply Reply December 14, 2012

    I have reused yeast, but as you said it only last so long. I don’t brew enough to stor it in the frig, but I have frozen my yeast for over 4 month and made a fine batch of Fosters look alike. I did use a yeast starter that did take a wile to get rolling, but worked great! Looking forward to my next batch, but I want to let the yeast stay frozen for a year?

    Thanks Much for all you do.

    Soapman

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply December 14, 2012

      @Soapman – Right… and see I have heard of brewers storing yeast for a long time without freezing, so that’s why I’m after the experiment… Cheers!

  • Steve

    Reply Reply December 27, 2012

    It will be great to see your viability numbers before and after ringing your yeast.

  • brewella

    Reply Reply December 31, 2012

    Could you explain a little bit, in layman’s terms, about why harvesting yeast could help my beers? Is harvested yeast healthier or stronger than a fresh vial or packet? If it could improve my beer and save money at the same time, it seems like a no-brainer.

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply December 31, 2012

      @brewella – stronger definitely… healthier, depends… I don’t always brew all my beers using harvested yeast… sometimes I use fresh and sometimes I use harvested yeast…
      Here are the observations I’ve noted… when I pitch from a vial it takes about 24 to 48 hours for krausen to start forming (up to 72 for lagers)… a yeast starter will bring it down to about 12 to 18 hours… when I re-use yeast krausen starts to form after 6 to 8 hours!

      Now there are a lot of variables and reducing lag time is not necessarily what will make the beer better… you have to take other things into account…

      If you are brewing a clean (low ester) beer, then re-using yeast can indeed help you get a cleaner beer…

      You also have to keep in mind, however, the viability of the yeast and what beers are you brewing… are you looking for specific levels of attenuation? Is yeast you are harvesting appropiate for the styles you’ll be brewing later… etc.

  • Laurin Desso

    Reply Reply January 4, 2013

    On December 31st I cultivated yeast that I had stored in the fridge for 3 1/2years. I think it is in Michael Jacksons’ Beer Companion he tells of some beer that was recovered from a ship wreck that the yeast was cultivated and it had been in the ocean for over a hundred years.

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply January 4, 2013

      Right… that’s the kind of stuff that I’ve heard… I’d love to hear how you went about cultivating and the results!

  • vera

    Reply Reply October 22, 2014

    Love the video. That’s a genius idea of waiting for trüb to settle after each fill. Here’s my tip: after adding boiled, cool water to carboy, swirl it and lay it on its side to let trüb settle. It is then easier to poor off into your big jar.
    You did mention weighing the yeast prior to pitching. I would assume you decant prior to weighing? Will you be doing any yeast cell counts? I would love to learn how to do it. Freezing? I thought it only possible with glycerin.

  • Michael T

    Reply Reply October 22, 2014

    I reuse yeast regularly. The longest I’ve stored washed yeast has been 3 months. I’ll be interested in your experiments with yeast storage. I’ve used up to 4 generations of a strain for brewing with great results each time.

  • Mark

    Reply Reply October 22, 2014

    I have reused yeast in the past, after storing it in the fridge for 3-4 months with great success. Great suggestion on letting the trub settle in between filling each container. I would really like to learn more about freezing yeast that I don’t use too often. Cheers!

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply October 23, 2014

    I have reused yeast in the past and well, I always felt I went to the extreme of cleaning and storing it, however, I have had some bad batches. I was told by re using yeast the best batch is the 3rd generation. I typically use safale 04 or 05 yeast, however I recently purchased some smack packs that I have not yet used….I cringed when I spent the what 6 plus bucks a pack but did it anyhow. Your video came at the correct time. I believe I am going to try this on these other yeasts if I like the taste. I did not watch the video yet, but will as soon as I hit post on here.

    • jorgitoz

      Reply Reply February 1, 2015

      Awesome!! I think you’ll be glad you spent the extra few dollars 😉

      Cheers!!

  • GTH3

    Reply Reply October 28, 2014

    I recovered yeast twice just to learn how. Used it 3 to 4 months later after keeping in frig. I waited so long then because lack of knowledge. I’m fairly new to brewing. I didn’t know you could freeze yeast! I thought that would kill it! Thanks for video & your emails. I learn so much from them Thanks

    • jorgitoz

      Reply Reply February 1, 2015

      You don’t want to just freeze it though, that could kill it. The book Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Z talks about the procedure to do this which I haven’t tried myself, but hopefully in the future and I’ll write a blog about it…

      Cheers

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