Author Topic: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?  (Read 1568 times)

Offline el_capitan

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Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« on: February 09, 2017, 02:17:16 AM »
Hey guys - I'm reviving some very old yeast strains - WY2633 Octoberfest Blend @ 17 months old, and WY3944 Belgian Wit @ 20 months old.  I know - it sounds crazy, but I pulled a Kolsch strain back from 24 months old, grew up a good culture, and had a great batch.  But I've never attempted that with a lager or Belgian strain before.

They had like a 2 day lag time, and now are fermenting pretty well in 1-L stirred starters.  Of course I'll crash them and taste the wort, but this is really a first step.  Now comes the crazy part - I am out of DME, but I do have some apple juice on hand.  I thought about using that to grow the starter further and get some cider out of the deal too.  I could just pitch these now at high krausen in the starter and treat it as a mini-batch. 

So, assuming the yeast is coming back strong and true, do you see issues with growing yeast in a starter batch of cider (with nutrients), and then going back to beer with it?  I kind of think that the yeast is going to chew through whatever sugars you throw at it, and as long as you have the proper nutrients in place, it should end up healthier for the deal.  I just don't know how quickly a yeast strain might shift toward a different input. 

Your thoughts?

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 07:36:57 PM »
Only the lack of proper yeast nutrients come to mind and maybe the fact that they could become accustomed over time to only feeding best on the fructose sugars instead of maltose that you want them to be able to ferment, but I think that shift would take some time and repeated uses of apple juice in your starter to cause that.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2017, 12:00:16 AM »
Why not just use corn or table sugar with yeast nutrient?
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 12:47:04 AM »
At this point the yeast is old enough that all bets are off already. Maybe brew a 2.5 gallon batch of a session beer with them if you have no DME? Since the 2633 is a blend, you're already likely to end up with a different character in the end.

One other thing is flavor carryover. I used apple juice as a lacto starter for a recent Berliner Weisse, and I could still pick up some apple flavor after the lacto ferment going into the boil. The Sacc ferment is still ongoing, so I'm not sure what will make it to the finished beer.
Eric B.

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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2017, 02:19:03 AM »
I agree that it's basically pointless to gamble with the yeast at this point, but my yeast-handling sanitation is sound, and both starters have been fizzing for a couple days now, so it seems that a viable population is emerging.  The question remains - a viable population of what

I had already been leaning toward using a dry yeast for the witbier.  I was going to use the Octoberfest blend in a Märzen.  So perhaps a better question at this point is, what's a good dry yeast strain for an Ofest/Märzen style? 

Offline 69franx

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2017, 03:05:51 AM »
Can skate by easily with 34/70 I would think. Not perfect, but will get the job done on the cheap

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Fermenting:
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 02:12:26 PM »
Can skate by easily with 34/70 I would think. Not perfect, but will get the job done on the cheap

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Agreed. 34/70 is my go-to dry yeast for Märzen if I don't have any 2633 on hand.

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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2017, 11:02:32 PM »
Well, I went ahead with building starters from apple juice.  First, I revived the old yeast strains with 1-L starters.  They fermented out over 3-4 days on a stirplate.  Then I pitched both starters into a gallon jug with 1/2 gal of apple juice.  The juice is pasteurized of course, so I just poured it straight into the jug.  Crazy, huh? 

These apple juice starters fermented out in about 24 hours, and then I crashed them well.  Yesterday I brewed up 3 gallons of witbier and pitched the slurry, and it was fermenting strongly about 8 hours later when I woke up.  So far, so good.  The cider tasted fine, fairly bland. 

I haven't moved forward with the O-fest yeast, and I picked up two packs of 34/70 last weekend.  I might split a 6-gal batch and ferment one batch with the liquid strain, just to see how that old strain performs.  We'll see.  I'll report back.

For now though, I got a free batch of hard cider out of the deal, which I'll jack down.  Yumm!

Offline el_capitan

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Re: Apple Juice Yeast Starter?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2017, 03:47:29 AM »
Well, I know you all thought I was crazy, but I'm back to report that the witbier turned out to be an excellent beer.  Very light color, lots of aromatics, and a nice tart character from the yeast.  One strange thing is that it fermented down to 1.004.  I pick up a nice clove aromatic, but not really a flavor, which is great.  I appreciate a subtle clove, but I'm not a huge fan. 

This method worked well and I'd do it again.  The key is to provide yeast nutrients, of course.