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Recently I decided to harvest a Weihenstephaner heffe yeast from the bottle. However, I couldn't find it in the store, so I grabbed Weihenstephaner Vitus.

Does it contain the same yeast strain as heffe, or not?

P.S. It's nevertheless on the stirplate as we speak...

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"Does it contain the same yeast strain as heffe, or not?"

It's quite possibly the same strain BUT not necessarily the strain you're looking for (Weihenstephan's Hefe yeast). Bottle conditioning for one or both (or neither) of these beers may be conducted with different yeast strains than the primary (from which all of the characteristic hefe flavor comes), though I don't know for sure with Weihenstephan. Breweries tend not to be particularly open about process specifics like this. I know I've heard much talk about Hefeweizen producers only using the primary strain for bottle conditioning in their local market, and using a lager strain for distribution.

Basically, there's a pretty good chance you're not culturing a strain that will give you the typical flavors of a Bavarian-style wheat beer, but one that will give you an entirely style-inappropriate character.

You can see some discussion on the topic here and here.

You should be able to confirm whether or not you have a Hefe strain by sniffing your stir plate. If you smell clove and banana there's a chance it's useable (though unfortunately both lager and Hefe yeasts tend to be profligate sulfur-producers during exponential growth, possibly confounding this method).

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  • While it's possible that they use a different strain for bottling, more than likely it's the primary strain. Most breweries I'm familiar with have so much of their primary yeast around that they often have to dump the excess. It simply doesn't make sense for them to keep another yeast around. – Denny Conn Jun 28 '15 at 20:17
  • You'd be surprised. A company I worked for bought a new laboratory pitch (of the same house ale strain it had in excess) from Wyeast every batch to use for bottle-conditioning after filtering (and these were 1,500 gallon batches). I agree that it makes little sense for a lot of breweries, but for some (probably especially those who have wider markets) the risks of reusing yeast for bottling outweigh the cost of a new pitch you know to be lab-clean. – Franklin P Combs Jul 17 '15 at 1:54

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