I'm fairly new to beer (6 batches), I was using gelatin to clear my primary, but it has been noted that I then loose the ability to reuse the yeast. I have been using American Ale II liquid yeast and at ~$7 a pop, if I can save it and reuse it batch to batch, this would be a good thing. Can anyone provide me a step by step method on saving the yeast with other pros and cons? Thanks.
Saving yeast is easier than some make it out to be. When you xfer the beer to package it (or to a secondary) simply leave a little beer behind in the fermenter. Use that beer to swirl up the slurry in the fermenter and pour it into 2 sanitized containers. Store those in the fridge. Each container should enough yeast to ferment an average batch of beer. If you use one of the containers in the next 3 weeks or so, you can use it directly. Beyond that, it's best to put the slurry into a starter container and add a bit (maybe a qt.) of fresh wort to "wake it up" before using. Some people go to elaborate steps to rinse the yeast, but having tried it I found it really made no difference. In addition, every time you play with your yeast like that you risk contaminating it unless you have lab conditions to work in.
You should gelatin fining in a separate vessel than the one primary was in if you want to save the yeast. You are correct in thinking that you do not really want that gelatin mess coming out with the yeast you plan to re pitch. It will coat the yeast and slow their growth and performance the second time around.
This is probably on of the few times a secondary gets used by me if I am not kegging and fining in the keg directly.
To capture the yeast, I'd pour in 1L of sterilized cool water on top of the yeast cake. Swirl really well. Then pour of into a new container. Let the solution settle for 10-20 minutes and pour off the cloudy stuff leaving whats on the bottom behind (dead yeast, hops and protein trub). All the new containers should be clean and sanitized.
The guys at Coopers have written up a few guides for using the yeast from their (very popular) Pale Ale. A lot of people like using this yeast particularly because the beer is additive and preservative free.
From one of the discussion threads on their site... (linked below)
Coopers, encourage home brewers to use the yeast from naturally conditioned Coopers ales. The same ale strain is used across the range - Mild Ale, Pale Ale, Dark Ale, Sparkling Ale, Best Extra Stout and Extra Strong Vintage Ale.
There are numerous documented techniques, with varying levels of complexity, for re-activating the yeast in naturally conditioned beer. The method described below may leave some readers, experienced in growing yeast cultures, aghast. \u201cWhat! No stir plate, no malt, no alcohol swabs, no nutrient, no way! However, for Coopers yeast, it works…
1. Buy a six pack of Coopers Original Pale Ale and place upright in the fridge for about a week for the yeast to settle.
2. Mix about 600ml of boiling water and 4 tablespoons of dextrose/sugar in a pyrex jug, cover with cling-wrap and leave to cool in the fridge for about 30mins.
3. Open 4 bottles and decant the beer into a jug, leaving behind the yeast sediment - about a couple of centimetres.
4. Pour the sugared water equally into each bottle, cover with cling-wrap and secure with a rubber band.
5. Shake the bottles then place them in a dark spot at a temperature in the mid 20\u2019s.
6. Give the bottles a shake in the morning and at night to keep the yeast in suspension.
7. After around 2 to 3 days the yeast should become active and begin forming a head.
8. Pitch the active yeast into a brew immediately or store in the fridge for about a week.
Just remember to pull it out of the fridge to warm for couple of hours prior to pitching.
Some additional points to keep in mind;
- start with more yeast by using all 6 bottles,
- buy beer with the freshest yeast (ie. latest \u201cBest After\u201d date),
- lower alcohol content is better (mild ale or pale ale),
- it\u2019s okay to hold the culture at slightly higher temps to promote a quicker reactivation,
- one sanitised vessel (approx 1 litre) may be used rather than separate bottles,
- make sure the culture smells okay before pitching,
- buy another 6 pack for each culture and
- don\u2019t forget to drink the decanted beer
The thread with discussion is here. There is some seriously good info in there about it.
I second Denny Conn's explanation. I have been repitching yeast and have had no ill effects when creating a yeast starter. I usally pitch 1/4 C. of slurry to a 1.040 wort of the size that Beersmith calculates for me and have had no problems. I keep the yeast from the Primary and get about 4-5 more batches from the first generation (second pitching) of the yeast. Go ahead...Have fun...The results just may be spectacular!