Category Archives: Projects

Yeast Washing – Full Circle

I’ve just finished bringing my first batch of washed yeast back to ‘life’ to use in my next brew, a nut brown ale.  I saved some S-04 from a Moosedrool clone I made back in February, and 2.5 months later I’ve successfully revived it.  Below are the basic steps I took.Picture

Step 1:  I poured preboiled and cooled water into the my fermenter (plastic bucket in this case) swirled around the yeast, water, and other trub that was left over after bottling.

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Step 2:  After letting the water/yeast/trub mixture sit for about 20 minutes and seeing some layers (see above) I carefully poured part of that into a glass jar.  I now let this set for about 20 minutes.  Now, I did see separation into 2 layers, but not the 3 I really wanted.  I would have liked to have seen a thick layer on the bottom (dead cells, trub, hops, etc) that I could have avoided.  Instead I had a clear top layer.

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Step 3:   Moving along with what I had, I carefully poured the thick cloudy mixture into three 8 ounce jelly jars that I had preboiled (with the water I used to start the process of washing).
To the left is what I had after pouring into the jelly jars.  Notice how the entire portion of liquid is a creamy color?  After settling out things will look different.

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Step 4:  I put tape labels on the top of the jars denoting what kind of yeast, the date and what ‘generation’ this was (this was the first generation).  I then placed the jars in the refridgerator for long term storage.  To the right you can see what the jars look like after being in the fridge and settling.  They should look this way within 24 hours, if not sooner.

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Step 5:  So now we move ahead to about 3 days before you want to brew.  To the left you see what my jar looks like after pouring off the clear liquid on top, and then mixing the yeast up.
I made a 500 ml (1/2 liter) solution using 25grams of dry malt extract giving me about a 1.020 wort.  Some will go up to 1.040, it’s your personal choice.  Also, I’m just making a 3 gallon batch, so I only need the amount of yeast from 500ml.  If you are making 5 gallons or more, you are likely to need 1L to 2L.  A good resource is mrmalty.com

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Step 6:  Pour your 500ml wort that is cooled down into a glass jar of choice.  Many use Erlenmeyer flasks, but I’m just going with an extra 1/2 gallon growler I have available.  After pouring the prepared wort into the jar, I then pour in my room temperature yeast.

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Step 7: well, step 7 and 8 are just pictures with an explanation.
After adding the yeast, I mixed (shook) the living daylights out of it to get some oxygen into solution.  I proceeded to mix this every so often when I walked by the kitchen.  A stir plate would be ideal, and at some point I’m going to build / buy one.
The picture on the left shows what it looks like after mixing up after about 24 hours from pitching.  There is a lot of activity, and it helps to get the CO2 out of solution and allow more oxygen into solution to help the growth.

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Step 8:  This is about it.  Within 36 hours the yeast is pretty much done with my 1.020 wort and has definitely grown in size (see the bottom).  At this point one could pour off the clear liquid on top and add 1L of new 1.040 wort to get the cell counts up high enough for a higher gravity or larger batch of beer, or just to have enough to sock away in another 8 oz jar if that is what you want.  For me, I have stuck this in the refrigerator and will take it out tomorrow morning, and brew in the afternoon.

Final thoughts.
I didn’t show the pictures of boiling the 8 ounce jars in water, as I’ve lost those pictures.
This makes it easy to save yeast for several months (some have reported 1 year) and cuts the cost of brewing considerably.  I now have a Kolsch yeast (Wyeast 2565) put away, and I will be saving some Bavarian Lager tonight when I bottle (Wyeast 2124).  I expect to have 6-7 strains saved at a time when I eventually top out, and will try to use each jar within 6 months.  I look forward to seeing if I can get up to the 5th generation, and further, and how that could compare to a fresh package of yeast.

Bottling Trick

I can’t claim any originality in this idea, I picked it up here.  This is a real back saver, and I thought I would pass it on.

I had been reading a bit on homebrewtalk.com about improving the whole bottling experience and I can report that one little change I made has made a huge difference in how painful (or less painful) bottling day can be.

I bought a bottling valve (plastic valve) at the homebrew store for less than $4, drilled a hole in my bottling bucket and then cut off a 1 inch piece of racking tubing and connected that to my bottling bucket valve, and then on the other side of that tubing I connected my bottling wand.

To use this, I simple rack my beer to the bottling bucket as normal, move the bottling bucked to a high position, open the valve and presto!   As soon as I push up a bottle to the bottling wand, I start filling a bottle.

 

This makes it so much better than fighting a long piece of tubing on top of worrying about the bottom of my auto siphon, and it frees up my hands to work the bottles.

 

 

Converting A B/M/C Home Draft System

Well, after catching sight of a BIG bottle of Miller (6 liters actually, 1.5 gallons) at the local grocery, I immediately thought of the homebrew version, which is “tap a draft” (TAD).  I have been eyeballing TAD for a while as I know I will not lay down the fixed cost and space of korny kegs anytime soon.  I’ve used them before, before I went into semi-homebrew retirement and don’t see myself kegging in the next few years.

So, back to the story.

I went online to check some regular homebrew forums to see if anyone had tried using these things, or reusing these things for their homebrew.  I didn’t see much out there, and what little was being referenced had so little information.  I couldn’t tell if they could be re-used or not.

Well, I just had to try.  $20 later I was a proud owner of 1.5 gallons of Miller Light…and oh let me tell you.  I tasted it.

Ok, to use the ML home draft system, you simply pull a safety tab above the CO2 cartridge holder, twist it to puncture the cartridge, push down the ‘drunk proof’ safety latch and that lets you then pull down the tap.  Open it fully to prevent a glass of foam, and you have draft ML.

Tastes as dry and bland as I remember.  It is so lifeless and dry I get a ‘burn’ on my tongue from the carbonation.

Alright, thats not what this story is about.

I dumped the ML out in my sink as I don’t know the neighbors well, and they are likely not worthy of free beer..ha ha.  Seriously, I was starting a project and I had no time to round up a bunch of BMC drinkers, so I dumped.

After getting rid of the godforesaken “light American lager” I unscrewed the CO2 cartridge holder with a pair of pliers, breaking the plastic stops designed to prevent the drunk BMC drinker from doing this when there is still a half full CO2 cartridge.  No problem here though.  The first hurdle was made, as I was concerned this piece would not survive the pliers, but it easily did.  The cartridge holder will screw back into the tap handle.

Next it was ordering some 16Co2 cartridges online.  One of the pieces of information I did gather online was that these cartridges would work for my “cheap ass tap a draft” (CATAD) system.

I now plunked down another $13 for 10 16g cartridges from Midwest Supplies.  I also picked up 4, 38mm caps, as these are what go over the 6L, 3L and gallon jugs.  I would need these caps to condition my homebrew if this experiment worked.

Well, the cartridges made it in under 1 week.

Filling up the 6L bottle almost full with water for the test run, and success!!

Not only did the slightly smaller necked CO2 cartridge work, it didn’t leak and I had success pressing up the bottle.  I did get a slight leak it seemed from the over pressure port while filling, but it seems I still have CO2 pressure to fill the bottle.

Pictures below.  This project takes no talent, no brains, and about $33.  If you have access to any BMC drinkers who buy this thing, then you are home free!  I am now going to scrounge around and see if I can get some ‘used’ 6L bottles from the BMC crowd.  I’m sure they are plentiful, and will be cheap!

Update:  Having an issue with the CO2 leaking out of the relief valve when I first insert the CO2 cartridge.

Relief Valve I’m having some issues with…