Frozen Yeast Bank

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Postby bfabre » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:36 pm

you guys are so far ahead of me in the technical beer side of brewing. I am learning though....The information is very informative.
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give it a try.

Postby Legman » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:44 am

Bfabre, really this isn't that technical at all. If it was, I probably wouldn't be doing it! :lol:
Personally, I like low-tech approaches. I want to keep it as simple as possible and still get results. Its just like when you read books and articles about brewing and some science geek (no offense), has broken brewing down to 500 math equations and formulas. I'm looking at that and have no idea what the heck it means, or really care to. I'm still making great beer and I don't have to be a mathematician. After all, what do you think our forefathers did? I don't think that was to technical.....hand full of this, throw in some that, cover and let sit. Beer.

I guess my point is, don't be afraid to give this a try or anything else for that matter. Keep it simple. 8)
Last edited by Legman on Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Yeast Bank...Give it a Try...

Postby wottaguy » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:25 am

bfabre.....I thought that creating the Yeast Bank would be waayy too difficult at first, but like Legman states, it is a really simple process to generate, prepare and freeze your yeast samples. You just have to be very alert about your sanitation and the rest will fall into place.

If you want to get started with this, here's the URL of the Yeast Bank kit that I am currently using. It comes with everything you need, including detailed instructions, of how to perform and prepare your yeast for freezing and long term storage. The price of the kit is very reasonable too. Check it out here:

http://www.countrywines.com/products.asp?category=150

If you do order this kit, I would recommend that you purchase 10 additional test tubes just to have on hand. They are 0.99 each.

Let us know if you plan to try this out as we would like to hear about your experiences and results!

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jumping into it.

Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:15 am

So, after following this thread pretty closely, I'm going out today to buy some equipment to start a yeast bank. I'm not sure if I'll by the actual "Yeast Bank", but we'll see when I get to the LHBS.

I've been reading up on this, and it doesn't seem to bad. Am I right in thinking it's basically just like making a little starter, then a bigger starter and sucking the yeast cake off the bottom of it? I know there's a little more to it than that...but the way I'm understanding it, that's the basic principle.

I'm looking forward to starting this because I'm getting sick of paying 8 dollars for a pack of wyeast.
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Postby jawbox » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:49 am

Thats why I've been experimenting with dry yeast again.

So far I like the safale products.
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RE: jumping into it.

Postby Legman » Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:43 pm

You've pretty much got it Suthrncomfrt. Just remember sanitation is probably the #1 thing you need to watch. Other than that, it's been pretty easy. All of us are still in the beginning stages of this, so take it for what it's worth. But so far, it looks promising. I'm sure we'll keep this post updated as we start getting more results.
I've only had the chance to try out one of the frozen vials so far. I keep reusing the yeast out of the fermenters......so that's saving $$$ as well. I still got about 3 more batches to go before I try anther vial from the freezer.

Give it a shot and see what happens.
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Pitching frozen vials

Postby shaggyt » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:23 pm

How much time should I allow (in days) before I brew to get a pitchable starter from a vial?

I like to pitch 2.5-3 qt starters so I'm looking for a general idea of when to start the step starter. For example, my average starter from a fresh WL001 vial is 2 days minimum.

Legman, I think you were the first of "the bankers" to try out a frozen vial (at least from the posts that I read). How many days did it take for the yeast to reach a pitchable rate?
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Time

Postby Legman » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:39 am

Seems like I made my starter about 5-6 days before I brewed. The first 2 days there was no activity (that I could see) at all. I didn't think it was going to work. But on day 3, there was a fine layer of foam on top and by day 5 it was in full swing.
I had made a 2-2.5 qt. starter, but I didn't do the step-up. It was just like any regular starter. I've heard that it can possibly stress out the yeast, but at the time, I was more interested in seeing if the frozen yeast would work or not.

Knowing me, I'll probably do the same thing again with no step-up starter. I'm one of those who has to see it to believe it. And so far, I haven't seen it. :P
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Frozen yeast

Postby slothrob » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:16 am

If the starter is taking 5 days to finish, there must have been few viable cells in the pitched vial. A healthy White Labs vial usually finishes a starter in 2 days or less, for me, due to the high cell number.

One thing to remember is that a 2-3 qt starter won't give you the same amount of final yeast if you pitch fewer cells. You can see this if you use mrmalty.com's pitching calculator; two vials will give you more yeast than one from the same starter.

You probably should grow the yeast step-wise, pitching into a cup-pint, then into your final volume, or you aren't pitching as much as you're used to. A stir plate will help make more cells, as well.

It's going to be more important with some beers than others. I'd be careful to step the yeast up for Lager, Kölsch, and Alt, as well as very pale beers like Blonde and Cream Ales. If you're someone who has never worried much about pitching rates, but been happy with your beer, it's probably not that important.
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RE: Frozen yeast

Postby wottaguy » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:20 am

Well...

I haven't resurrected any of my frozen yeast yet, but my plan is to thaw the vial out slowly and bring it up to room temp, then pitch it into a small 250 - 500 ml starter to get them going. I'll then step it up at least 3 more times, cooling and decanting as i go....so...I would imagine i'll have to plan on at least starting this process 10 to 14 days before my brew session. I have a small dedicated dorm fridge to settle the yeast in between the step-ups so it's not a big problem for me to do this. I'll also be using my stir plate to grow them.

Even when i make a starter from a regular white labs tube or a wyeast activator pouch, I step it up twice, I start with a 1000 ml, cool and decant, then step it up to a 2000 ml starter, and always on a stir plate too.

I'll post my results when I get to that point. I'll have a better feel about the actual time needed after I go thru the process.

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Re: Starter

Postby Legman » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:58 pm

Well, the starter did only take about 2 days to finish. It just took longer to start up. And when it did stop, the whole bottom of the 1 gallon glass jug was covered in about 1/4" - 3/8" of yeast.

I don't know much about pitching rates and what not, but seemed like it worked alright to me. I've never worried about it before and my beer has come out just fine. More time will tell.
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Re: RE: Frozen yeast

Postby slothrob » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:00 pm

Legman wrote:And when it did stop, the whole bottom of the 1 gallon glass jug was covered in about 1/4" - 3/8" of yeast.
That sounds good. I'm not as anal about pitching rates as Jamil, but he wins the awards, and he has supposedly shown that starting with half the cell number requires twice the starter volume to hit the same amount of yeast to pitch.

wottaguy wrote:my plan is to thaw the vial out slowly and bring it up to room temp

The deadly part of freezing and thawing is the transition through the crystallization phase. Thawing slowly causes, on the molecular scale, micro freeze/thaw cycles that kill a lot of yeast. For that reason, you're better off thawing the yeast quickly, to get it through that phase quickly. You can use a bowl of body temperature water, moving the vial around rapidly to speed up the process. As soon as the last of the ice is gone, stop, trying to keep the contents liquid, but cold (around 40°F or so).

Once the yeast are thawed, you're better off keeping it cold until you pitch. If the yeast warm up, they will start to use up their glycogen stores. When you pitch them, if the glycogen stores are low, they will need to waste time and sugar restoring that glycogen before they grow. I wouldn't allow them to warm to room temp before pitching.

If you plan on taking a while to grow them up anyway, you might consider from a low gravity initial starter, in the 1.020's, to reduce stress.

Also, making sure the yeast are fed right before freezing will not only increase the glycogen stores, speeding up recovery from the freeze, but also build up trehelose sugars. Trehelose is a natural antifreeze that should help preserve the cells through the freezing process.
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Postby wottaguy » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:38 pm

slothrob....makes sense....aren't you a human cell biologist or something like that?

Funny...now that i've read the directions again that came with the yeast bank kit, they also say to thaw the yeast out using luke warm water and keep it in motion by giving a shake every once in a while.

Good stuff here....Legman...you thawed your tube in the fridge in a slow fashion...maybe that is one reason that your starter was a little slow to start...I'll let you know how this plays out when I thaw one of my vials out and get a small starter going....also...i do make rather weak starter wort anyways....around 1.030....maybe i'll weaken it a bit more for this.

Thanks for the great info!

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Thaw

Postby Legman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:58 am

Slothrob knows cells.
Earlier in this post Slothrob had said something to me about thawing it quickly. It is very possible that that could be the cause of my slow starting starter. I had used the slow thawing because that's what I had read in some other discussion forum. I'll try that quicker method next time and see if this doesn't make it start up a little faster.

Slo, you're probably correct about all the input you've posted on this subject. I think you'd like to reach through the screen and slap me sometimes for not taking your advise. :wink:
I can't help but to go against the grain. The redneck side of my brain controls me more often than not and causes me to put my blinders on. 8)

Wottaguy, you really want to babysit that starter don't you? 10-14 days? I don't have the patients.

I wonder if adding some yeast nutrient before or after freezing would help with with the cell survival rate???
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Re: Thaw

Postby slothrob » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:26 am

Wottaguy, around 1.030 is probably fine, but I've seen 1.020 recommended for stressed yeast. Either is probably easier on the newly thawed yeast than a 1.040 starter that first day.
Legman wrote:I wonder if adding some yeast nutrient before or after freezing would help with with the cell survival rate???

Nutrient seems like a good idea, or I might try a little dead yeast or a drop of olive oil in the boiling starter.

I just figured I've done quite a bit of this kind of thing, perhaps I could give you a couple basic pointers that might improve your results. I know you don't want to get too technical, so instead of you trying to figure out why to thaw it fast or slow, I could just recommend thawing it fast. Sorry if I come across a little professorial with this stuff, it's bad habit from teaching a lot of people these skills in the lab, over the years.

The slow thaw seems like it should be more gentle, but as the temperature hovers close to the freezing point you get microscopic freeze/thaws that increase the odds of a cell damaged beyond recovery. Fast thawing and removal of ice crystals also promotes healing of damaged cells around the holes caused by ice crystals.
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