With mostly higher gravity (Barleywine) and hoppy beers (APA with dry hops in primary, Pliny clone coming up) being made here lately it hasn’t been an option to wash and harvest the yeast after fermentation. I still wanted to be able to brew multiple batches off a single vial of yeast. I decided to try making starters slightly larger (3-400 ML) larger than necessary and pour off a bit of slurry into a sanitized flask or mason jar.
Here is some leftover yeast from a starter made about 2 weeks ago – the pitching rate showed a 1L starter on a stir plate, so I made about a 1400ML starter and poured 400ML into the flask before the yeast floc’d out. I then pitched the remaining 1L into the APA.
I want to keep the yeast fresh until I brew with it in the next 2-3 weeks so I decanted the wort and later poured about 300 ML of fresh starter wort into the flask.
Once that finishes fermenting it will go back into the fridge until I make a final starter prior to brew day with this yeast. I know I’ve read that you shouldn’t make starters smaller than 1000ML, but I figured I’ll be making a starter at least that big before I brew with it so hopefully any potential negative impacts would be counter-acted by the larger starter.
I made the starter wort for a starter of WLP001 that will be used for a Pliny the Elder clone (which I dubbed Hamfast the Gaffer) later this week. Once the WLP001 starter finishes I’ll pour off some slurry (200-300ML) into a mason jar so I can then build that back up and use it in a batch in January. So basically this starter is supposed to be about 1750ML so I made a 2400ML starter and put 300ML into the flask with WLP002 and 2100ML into the 1 gallon glass jug with the WLP001. Once I take the WLP001 off the stir plate I’ll pour about 300ML of slurry into a mason jar to use later. I’ll be left with about 1800ML in the starter to decant and pitch later this week.
This will allow me to get a minimum of 2 batches per vial of yeast, but when I make starters with those I can easily repeat this process or, depending on the batch, harvest yeast from the fermenter. I actually think that pitching a 1st generation for brewing a particular recipe for competition that you’ve brewed over and over again is ideal because it’s less variable than pitching yeast from a previous batch which, in theory, would lead to more consistency batch to batch.
I still plan to wash/harvest yeast, but I think this is an equally viable method and is in some ways superior, but I’ve had the best fermentations when pitching freshly harvested/washed yeast (harvest to pitching in a day or two). The downside to this process is that you don’t have as much yeast and will have to make multiple starters.