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Yeast Harvest

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KingKong

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I thought I would take this opportunity to encourage some new brewers like I to try yeast harvesting.

I have read a lot from the more experienced brewers about using liquid yeast and harvesting yeast from commercial brews. Normally yeast harvesting is used by experienced brewers to allow the use of specialty yeast strains for home brew that could not other wise be purchased.

IMHO I believe that yeast harvesting has taught me good sanitizing skills and encouraged me to learn more about the yeast that make my beer. Its also good fun, some thing 'brewing' to do while your brew fridge is full and preparing me for future more complex brewing techniques.

I have pretty much exclusively used US-05 for my home brewing to date. Reason being it's accessible to me, was easy to use from the start and I have had good results using it.

Knowing I want to keep pushing my home brew knowledge and experience, I decided it was time to move away from the packets of US-05 I was buying. At the same time I was happy with this yeast and reluctant to change for the sake of 'experience'. So what I resolved was to farm US-05 from a commercial brew.

A few bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale later and I am currently in the process of making a starter for my next pale ale. (Coopers is another good easy choice for farming an ale yeast, but I like Sierra Nevada and had it in the fridge.)

But I hear the critics already.... "Why would you bother ? It's not cost or time effective for a yeast strain readily and cheaply available in packet from?"

To those, I would say, "Your 100% correct." Sort of....

It is time and cost effective because I am learning now what may be critical to my home brew later but isn't that crucial now. For example if and when I fail with my yeast farming now what has it cost me ? A bit of Light DME... that's it. I can pitch the pack of US-05 I have handy. But when it works , not only has it been enjoyable, taught me good yeast practices but also has prepared me for the day I need it to work. Which ultimately will prepare me for when I go to all the effort of an all grain specialty beer only to have to pitch a pack of US-05 because the specialty yeast that I harvested had failed through inexperience.

There is an endless list of good guides to yeast harvesting on this site and in the better home brew books. Give it a go, its satisfying and prepares you for the future.
 

warra48

I've drunk all my homebrew and I'm still worried.
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Go for it, you have nothing to lose.
And good luck with your exercise.
 

RdeVjun

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Admire your enthusiasm, it should be a worthwhile experience. :icon_cheers:
One thing worth mentioning is that it may not be obvious if the starter is infected, in some cases you may not realize this until as late as dispensing (i.e. drinking). Its worth working on an "any doubt- throw it out" principle, however it is difficult to tell as normal starter is often quite foul and not very beer-like, particularly with lagers.
 

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