Author: admin, 11.03.2015We begin our tour through beer ingredients with yeast, in my opinion the single most important component in beer but often the most overlooked.
From a historical perspective, humans have likely been fermenting food products into alcohol for approximately 7-8 thousand years. Although both ale and lager yeast are species of the genus Saccharomyces, and are responsible for the majority of beer produced, certain strains of the genus Brettanomyces are used in the production of many sour beers. While usually very little yeast (if any) may be present in a pint of beer, it is these microscopic workhorses that we owe thanks for the beverage know and love.
Ryan has been homebrewing since 2006, and it was homebrewing that really got him into craft beer. There are examples of using yeast blends, particularly when looking at Belgian inspired beers, which may start fermentation with a fairly standard yeast, then pitch Brett into it later to be able to control the level of funky character that will develop from the Brett. For what turned out to be the spoiled batch, I opted to re-pitch yeast (Wyeast Northwest Ale 1332) from a previous batch of IPA. I would recommend that you take some time using fresh yeast and then reconsider if you want to repitch again.
I also had a bad batch and here follows the story.I started a brew with a new packet of Mutons gold and when fermentation finished and the beer racked ,the fermenter was cleaned after the yeast at the bottom was collected and another batch was brewed and the collected yeast was pitched.
While Brettanomyces is often considered a containment or infection (especially in the wine industry), it is responsible for the characteristic flavors of many of the beers done in the Belgian-style, including lambic and gueuze.
Let the secondary fermentation finish on its own, and discard that smaller, older yeast cake.
Interesting what you say about the temperature drop in the previous brew; I had a failed brew (off-flavours) last August, which used re-pitched yeast. The failed yeast here was a dried yeast (Safale SO4) but never had this problem before, so looks like that wild temperature flutuation in initial brew could be quite significant for future brews. I asked some home brewing experts and they attribute this to a yeast deficiency – either an infection, or bad yeast. The harvested yeast was stored ~3 weeks and pitched in another ale which was undrinkable – same carboy for both batches, which has been used several times since with good results.
This bad batch changed my perspective on yeast re-pitching, updated my definition of what a healthy fermentation is, and helped me clean my equipment better. It turns out there were two main factors, repitching of yeast and a dirty spigot in my fermentor. When I kegged the IPA and harvested the yeast, it looked and smelled fine, a fresh bready aroma was present.
The time it takes to harvest and clean the yeast (15-20 minutes), plus the risk is not worth the $3 savings it offers! I also left the IPA in the primary for 23 days, without racking, and then harvested the 23 day old yeast cake.
After a stuck fermentation due to yeast that was collected from the bottom of the fermenter and not viable anymore, I started to collect my yeast from the starter flask. Right before I pitch, I decant the liquid and mix the remaining liquid with the yeast that settled on the bottom (I turn of the stir plate 24 hours before pitching to let the yeast settle). Even though that yeast cake smelled good at the time, it was no longer to be trusted given its age, and the temperature fluctuation. The yeast is active and fresh and viable from the starter, and so far I have not have any problems with this collection method.
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