Author Topic: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers  (Read 885 times)

Offline flbrewer

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2160
    • View Profile
Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« on: March 16, 2014, 04:46:30 PM »
Does anyone do this? Benefits?

Online Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4915
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 04:55:07 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.

Offline harrst1

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2014, 05:35:51 PM »
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.

Offline duboman

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1565
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2014, 05:36:55 PM »
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

Sent from my SM-T310 using Tapatalk

Peace....Love......Beer......

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the craft of beer since 2010

Offline el_capitan

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 231
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2014, 06:51:53 PM »
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

Offline morticaixavier

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7747
  • Underhill VT
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2014, 07:28:47 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.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
-A Einstein

"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
- J Joyce

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7526
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2014, 07:57:15 PM »
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.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2502
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2014, 06:28:48 AM »
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.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing but I'm also a lawyer: The Kielich Law Firm

Offline troybinso

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 437
    • View Profile
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2014, 08:00:35 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.

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.

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5466
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Harvesting yeast from commercial beers
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2014, 07:58:52 PM »
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
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer