13 Steps To Make Culturing Yeast Easy

One of the easiest ways to save money with homebrewing is culturing your own yeast.  Before you have a knee jerk reaction thinking that it is hard or complicated just know people have doing this since there were pyramids if they can do it, you can too.

One reason why you might want to culture your own yeast is if you use that yeast in a lot for your beers.  An example is WLP001 California Ale Yeast or 1056 American Ale.  One that I am starting to love is the relatively new White Labs Yeast 090 San Diego Yeast which has a super fast fermentation.  By being able to keep these yeast around on stand by you have just saved yourself about $7 per recipe, not bad.  If you brew once a week it’s about $30 a month, not to shabby at all.

To culture your own yeast all you have to follow are these 13 easy steps and also all of this information can be found in the book, “The Joy Of Homebrewing”.

What you need first:

  1. 12 330ml beer bottles (12 oz bottles)
  2. 12 bottle caps
  3. 3 fermentation locks with #2 stoppers with a hole in them
  4. 6 oz (170g) dried light malt extract
  5. 1/4 oz (7g) bitter whole hops
  6. 2.5 qt. water
  7. House hold bleach
  8. Cheap Vodka
  9. Small, fine strainer
  10. Q-Tips
  11. Glass measuring cup with pouring spout

After you have collected all of your supplies,

  1. Boil the malt extract and hops in water for 30min.
  2. While the wort is boiling, take the bleach (or your preference of sanitizer) and sanitize your bottles.  Use 1/4 tsp (2ml) per bottle.  Fill with water and let them soak for 15min.
  3. You will also want to ether boil the bottle caps and measuring cup for 15min or you can soak them in the cheap but high proof vodka.
  4. After the wort has boiled for 30min, remove hops by pouring wort through a strainer into another pot.
  5. Bring to a boil again and boil for at least 10 more minutes.
  6. Drain all the water from the beer bottles then take the sterile measuring cup, pour about 6 oz of boiling sterile wort into each sanitized bottle.
  7. Cap immediately with sterile caps.
  8. Label the bottles.  Let them cool, once they are cooled down a bit put them in your refrigerator.
  9. Remove the bottle filled with beer wort from storage and shake.
  10.  Prepare a solution of 1 teaspoon of household bleach per qt of water and immerse rubber stoppers and fermentation locks.
  11. Carefully remove cap from bottle.  Open container of yeast and pour into the beer wort.  Make sure that the opening is sanitized before pouring.  If it is glass, you can burn the lips of it with a lighter.  If it is plastic you can take a swab of the vodka and rub it to make it sanitized.
  12.  After the yeast has been added, place the #2 stopper and the airlock on top.  Fill the airlock with the appropriate amount of water or sanitizing solution.
  13. Allow the wort to sit at room temp for about 18 hours (you will want a strong fermentation), then place in refrigerator.  The idea behind the refrigeration is that the decrease in temperature will make the yeast go dormant.  The yeast should remain healthy for another 2 weeks before having to propagate the yeast in another bottle of sterile beer.

After a prolonged period, the yeast will begin to die.  This period will be shortened if the yeast is agitated.  Yeast can be stored for long period by freezing it.  The way to store yeast without killing it if you are freezing the yeast is to add glycerol to it making it 10% of the total volume.  If this is done correctly, the yeast may be frozen for up to one year before recapturing is necessary. 


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