Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:25 am

So I understand that high ABV beers tax the yeast a lot, and its not a great idea to repitch the yeast. What about saving some of that yeast and then making a starter with it? Would the yeast be able to reproduce, and that reproduced yeast be viable? I could do several starters to get good viable yeast right? Looking for any way to reuse yeast and keep costs down so corporate (wife) doesnt audit my brewing books.... :D Thanks!
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Re: Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:36 am

crashlann wrote:So I understand that high ABV beers tax the yeast a lot, and its not a great idea to repitch the yeast. What about saving some of that yeast and then making a starter with it? Would the yeast be able to reproduce, and that reproduced yeast be viable? I could do several starters to get good viable yeast right? Looking for any way to reuse yeast and keep costs down so corporate (wife) doesnt audit my brewing books.... :D Thanks!


There are two ways I do this. The first way is to make an extra large starter for your big beer, but save a little of the starter to make another starter for another beer. The second is to brew a full batch of a lower gravity beer first, use part of the cake for your big beer and save the rest. You will have enough yeast left to make starters for many batches without going beyond second generation.

In general, I don't reuse a yeast that has been used in a beer over 1.060 due to the stress issue. The problem from what I understand is that even with making a starter with it, it will be more prone to mutations that may give it a different character from the original batch. I may be wrong about that, but I don't like risking a batch of beer.
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Re: Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:49 am

Awesome thanks!
Jason.

tap:Alesmith IPA
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bottld: Tripel A,Tripel B,Sour Blonde,Hef, Saison w/Brett
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Re: Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:56 pm

+1 to Boog. When you pitch into a huge beer, the cells are really going to have to work hard, create a lot of budding scars & mutate to some extent from the high alcohol medium they've been hanging out in. Even if you rinse it 20 times & get the best possible selection from your yeast sample, it's still not going to be the same yeast with the same fermentation characteristics. Keep in mind that not all mutations are bad. If yeast didn't mutate, we wouldn't be brewing right now (at least not at the same level). If you like to experiment, I'd say harvest it, rinse a few times & build it back up. You can learn a lot just from that, but you could go a step further & brew up a cheap batch that you don't really care about too much. See what happens. Maybe you'll get a great beer out of it (probably not), maybe you'll get something that's drinkable (pretty likely). I'd just place the value in what you learn & can apply to future batches.
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Re: Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:12 pm

Yeah, if you are looking to save money the rest of your batch ingredients will cost more than the yeast. As far as reusing yeast, picture it less as a straight line from batch to batch to batch, and more as a series of branches if where you might save yeast from one beer to use in two or three other batches (depending on how often you're brewing), and beers that are more stressful on yeast (high gravity, highly hopped) may be deadend branches.
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Re: Yeast starter after high ABV beer?

Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:33 pm

Some yeast strains rinse better than others. For WLP004, WLP566, S-04, and EC-1118 the only difference in the stratification layers that I saw were cell density and bacteria count. See this for details:
http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/2012/1 ... posed.html

I revisited this recently as well (post coming January 1st) and it does work well for separating fruit from EC-1118, but at the cost of about 90% of your viable cells.

From batches I have brewed the viability seems to drop about 10% for ever ABV above 5% ABV. (post coming)

But there is more to yeast health than viability. When using old or tired yeast, oxygenate the wort well, or get the yeast going on a stir plate first.
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