Author Topic: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer  (Read 1575 times)

Offline beerstache

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Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« on: November 18, 2011, 03:50:14 PM »
I'm trying my first attempt at culturing yeast from a 750 ml Chimay Premier bottle.  I started with a small amount of dme starter which I put the dregs into with a stir plate.  24 hours on, no noticeable yeast activity.  How do you know if the yeast is healthy or dead?  When I inspected the starter, the yeast is still brownish looking, not a healthy white look that I expected.
Any tips/advice on this method is appreciated. 
thanks

Offline euge

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 07:58:54 PM »
Crash it and then more wort. What you grew up probably isn't visible yet. Next step up you should see a but then a lot on the third.

What gravity and size went onto the stirplate?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline beerstache

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2011, 03:44:40 PM »
The second day I noticed some new growth and stepped it up again with new starter.  It seems to be doing good now.  Will step it up some more until brew day.
thanks

Offline andyi

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2011, 05:26:33 PM »
I have had the best luck with no stir plate (just shaking) for the the first two step and letting each step fully fermentout. 4-5 days.  At that point I figure I have a standard-ish WLP tube/WY smack pack worth and then build an appropriate  starter from there.

Online Joe Sr.

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2011, 09:32:57 AM »
The best advice I've gotten on doing this - and I think it came from David Houseman - was to start with a very small amount of wort and put it directly into the bottle and shake to aerate.  Build this up slowly before you put it into a flask on a stir plate.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline beerstache

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2011, 03:46:28 PM »
Yeah, I really like Housemans idea.  Keep it simple!  Will try this next time.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2011, 08:36:39 PM »
Sometimes a different yeast strain is used to bottle condition commercial beers, so you may not be getting what the source beer used in its primary.  I'm not sure about Chimay...Just realize this is a possibility.  It's probably still worth a try. ;)
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Offline euge

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2011, 12:49:02 AM »
I cultured up something (heavy emphasis on the something) from a bottle once. My worry is that there are a lone few bacteria in there with the lone few yeast.

Just emphasizing that there can be unpleasant outcomes culturing from commercial bottles. Generally I buy my yeast.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Online Joe Sr.

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2011, 08:22:13 AM »
Yes.  Results can sometimes be...  interesting.

I never had good luck doing this until I did it by adding a very small amount to the bottle and stepping up slowly from there.

Pouring the dregs into a flask previously had resulted in something that would ferment beer, but not taste very good.  Nothing worse than a beer that looks great, is perfectly carbonated, and tastes bad.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline denny

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2011, 09:26:51 AM »
Sometimes a different yeast strain is used to bottle condition commercial beers, so you may not be getting what the source beer used in its primary.  I'm not sure about Chimay...Just realize this is a possibility.  It's probably still worth a try. ;)

Sometimes, yes, but pretty infrequently, especially for Belgians.  They have so much of the fermentation strain around that it doesn't nmake sense for most breweries to keep another yeast just for bottling.  Chimay uses the fermentation strain.
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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2011, 09:36:25 AM »
I cultured the dregs of a couple bottles of lucky hand cali-common once. it worked great other than throwing a lot of sulfure which cleared up fine. I poured the dregs of two bottles in to 500ml of wort and shook it intermitently for about a week then pitched. it was a huge underpitch but I didn't know any better back then and it worked quite well.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2011, 02:26:38 PM »
I will sometimes culture the yeast from Bell's.  You can always drink a couple, or three, bottles and use that larger amount of yeast to get things going.  There is an ale on tap now in the basement that the Bell's yeast was used for, and it is yummy good.

Will do this again for the next Two Hearted clone.  Did it years ago, but have been using the Chico yeast since there is always plent around.
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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2011, 02:45:40 PM »
Do you notice a significant difference between the Bell's yeast and chico?

I've a few Bell's clones I intend to brew again soon and have thought about culturing their yeast.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2011, 06:44:50 PM »
Do you notice a significant difference between the Bell's yeast and chico?

I've a few Bell's clones I intend to brew again soon and have thought about culturing their yeast.

The Bell's yeast has a big krausen, with large bubbles on top.  It is fruitier than the Chico yeast.  The beer I have on tap dropped brilliant much faster than the Chico.  The overall flavor profile is very Bell's like.

Some of the founding member of our club say that when he was starting out, Larry claimed he was using 1056.  If he kept that yeast in house and did not switch, it has become Bell's own unique house yeast.


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Offline Mark G

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Re: Culturing yeast from commercial bottled beer
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2011, 06:58:47 AM »
Do you notice a significant difference between the Bell's yeast and chico?

I've a few Bell's clones I intend to brew again soon and have thought about culturing their yeast.

The Bell's yeast has a big krausen, with large bubbles on top.  It is fruitier than the Chico yeast.  The beer I have on tap dropped brilliant much faster than the Chico.  The overall flavor profile is very Bell's like.

Some of the founding member of our club say that when he was starting out, Larry claimed he was using 1056.  If he kept that yeast in house and did not switch, it has become Bell's own unique house yeast.



Bell's yeast definitely lends itself well to culturing from the bottle. I built some up from a couple bottles of Oberon for a Two-Hearted clone and it worked out great. If it started as 1056, I think it's changed quite a bit since then. You'd probably have better luck using 1272/051 if you're trying to match the flavor profile.
Mark Gres