This process comes under different names, re-using, re-capturing, rinsing, cleaning, etc.. etc., but basically after you remove the beer from the fermentor – there is a lot of nice and high quality yeast that is left over. You can re-capture this yeast and use it again and again, and again……
Benefits are many!
- save money, high quality yeast usually costs $8 a pack, so you can reduce the bill of each brew batch substantially
- to brew a stable beer that comes out the same all the time, it is important to use the same strain of yeast to be consistent
- you can easily make a lot more yeast than what you started out with from the packet, so if you wanted to say brew a bigger batch of beer, say 10 or 20 gallons, there is no need to buy 4 packets at $8 each – because you can easily make that your self
- the yeast becomes better over time and creates even better beer, the more you re-capture the same yeast, the better the yeast becomes
It is best to collect yeast strain that you will use frequently, because if you collect some rare yeast that you don’t use a lot, just be prepared to use more real estate space in the fridge and potential stares from the wife (unless you have a dedicated fridge). And so it is best to collect a house/classic strain, that works over broad temperatures.
Here is how we do it at Kodiak. We put two clear growlers filled with water already into a nice 3 gallon cooking pot (also filled with water) and we heat that up to boiling and let it boil for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, let it sit for a minute or two and remove the growlers out of the pot with a heat glove and put it on the side to cool. Put caps on it but don’t tighten them, let them cool!
ALL the water that will make contact with the leftovers needs to be cool, it can’t be hot!!!
We like to transfer the bottom stuff let over from the fermentor into the cooking pot that we just used. So pour in some water into the fermentor from the pot and shake it well, then transfer the ingredients from the glass carboy into the (empty) cooking pot, put a lid on it. Let it sit for a good 30 minutes to separate out into layers, see below:
You will have water mixed with beer as the clear liquid on top, then a nice light layer of yeast, and a darker layer at the bottom of throb (left over beer reaction stuff)…
You want to get rid of the beer/water mix if there is an excessive amount out, and pour in the rest into 1 of the empty growlers. As you are pouring into growler #1 the lighter yeast layer towards the end of that, the throb will start (the darker stuff). You don’t want to transfer the throb out of the pot or (however you do it), leave that behind, that’s the whole idea between doing the layer washing, leave the throb behind, the darker lowest layer. If some transfers, that’s ok; but leave the majority of it!
Put in some clean fresh water from the boil into that and shake well and let it sit in the growler again for 30 minutes.
Here is how the growler will look after transfer, after shaking, looks like mud….
After 30 minutes pour the contents (using the same method) into the 2nd growler, let it sit there for 30 minutes. If you have more empty clean growlers you could give it a 3rd transfer, but we at this point just leave it as is, label the growler and put into fridge!
Here is how the layer looks after separating in the 1st growler:
See that nice light layer at the bottom ? that’s what you are after. In this example and article, we actually didn’t even employ transferring into the 2nd growler, because this works so well!
Keep in mind that the yeast that you just recovered, there is much more of it than when you started from the yeast packet that you bought for $8 at the brew store. Some people divide into smaller jars, where each jar = 5 gallon batch, but we just leave as is.
On the label I would also put the date of the re-capture!
Before using this yeast, make a starter!
In addition to our method others exists.
make your own search too!