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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: flbrewer on March 16, 2014, 11:46:30 PM

Title: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: flbrewer on March 16, 2014, 11:46:30 PM
Does anyone do this? Benefits?
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: Stevie on March 16, 2014, 11:55:07 PM
Done it before.

Benefit is getting yeast that is not commercially available to homebrewers. It does take research because some breweries will bottle condition with a strain different from their house yeast.

Personally I think it is too much of a hassle. You have to start with a small weak (1.020) starter and step up multiple times to get a pitchable amount.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: harrst1 on March 17, 2014, 12:35:51 AM
Bell's Oberon is a good example. You just cannot get the citrus taste without the yeast. I harvest yeast from a 6 pack, make a 1.020 starter, wait till starter is spent, chill, decant. Combine with another 1.040 starter and pitch when ready. It's a little time consuming but worth it.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: duboman on March 17, 2014, 12:36:55 AM
The benefit is getting a strain you might not have commercial access to but having done it I'm with Steve, not worth the hassle for the same reasons

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Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: el_capitan on March 17, 2014, 01:51:53 AM
Back in my early days of homebrewing, I thought I'd give this a shot.  I very carefully saved yeast from each bottle of a sixpack of Sierra Nevada Porter.  The beer turned out great.  I had no idea at the time that I was culturing up one of the most commonly used brewing yeasts available.... ;D
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: morticaixavier on March 17, 2014, 02:28:47 AM
I like to culture up dregs from exciting sour beers I drink. Although I mostly do this by carefully pouring the beer into my glass leaveing .25 inches behind (or until I see dregs starting to pour. Spray the mouth of the bottle with star san and pitch it into a carboy half filled with beer I keep in the spare bathroom.

I also cultured up a steam beer yeast from a local brewery and had decent luck. I had the impression this beer had different yeast character than what I was getting with the white labs or wyeast cultures but I don't know if that's true or my imagination.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 17, 2014, 02:57:15 AM
Bell's Oberon is a good example. You just cannot get the citrus taste without the yeast. I harvest yeast from a 6 pack, make a 1.020 starter, wait till starter is spent, chill, decant. Combine with another 1.040 starter and pitch when ready. It's a little time consuming but worth it.
Yes sir, I have cultured Bells house ale yeast many times with good results. It is a little orangy.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: reverseapachemaster on March 17, 2014, 01:28:48 PM
It's a fairly easy process but takes some time and sanitation is really important. I have a few Belgian strains I've cultured and use/have banked in my brewery.

If there is a strain you want then you should start building up a culture from a bottle at your first opportunity rather than waiting for the time when you need the strain because you might end up waiting a few weeks to grow up appropriate numbers for a full batch of beer. You can always save your culture in your fridge until you need it.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: troybinso on March 17, 2014, 03:00:35 PM
I like to culture up dregs from exciting sour beers I drink. Although I mostly do this by carefully pouring the beer into my glass leaveing .25 inches behind (or until I see dregs starting to pour. Spray the mouth of the bottle with star san and pitch it into a carboy half filled with beer I keep in the spare bathroom.

I also cultured up a steam beer yeast from a local brewery and had decent luck. I had the impression this beer had different yeast character than what I was getting with the white labs or wyeast cultures but I don't know if that's true or my imagination.

Yep. Works great for sour beers. My most successful attempts have been with Jolly Pumpkin, but I haven't found them around here for a while. I carefully pour some weak wort directly into the bottle with the dregs and cap it with aluminum foil, then step that up after a few days.
Title: Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
Post by: erockrph on March 18, 2014, 02:58:52 AM
I do it with sour dregs pretty often. I've also done it for my own homebrew that used a seasonal strain that wasn't currently available. It's not something I do regularly, but it works. I think it's well worth a try, even if it's just for the fun of it. It is a good skill to know as a homebrewer.

Kyle has an excellent step-by-step post on his blog about how to do this:

http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/2013/05/giving-your-bottle-dregs-head-start.html