Podcast Episode #15 – Yeast Washing

Two quart jars of yeast

jars in waterThere are lots of tricks brewers use to make better beer at home. Many homebrewers reuse yeast. Some do it to try to save money, but mostly it is done to have healthier yeast which mean better-tasting beer.

There are many advantages to this:

  1. Re-used yeast may be healthier

  2. Re-used yeast is “free”.

  3. Re-used yeast may be healthier.

  4. Re-using yeast can increase your pitching rate.

There are some risks with re-using yeast

  1. Propagating contamination

  2. Off flavors

  3. Introducing contamination

My Process

Bubble, bubble . . . Several days before bottling day,

  1. Place a ½ gallon mason jar and two quart-sized (or 4 pints) mason jars along with lids and rings in a large stock pot and cover with water. Make sure the jars and lids are clean before beginning. I also place long-handled tongs in the water to sanitize the portion that will be touching the lids and inside the jars.

  2. Heat to a boil.

  3. Boil for 10 minutes to sanitize jars.

  4. Use the tongs to stand up 1 jar at a time, place the lid on the jar, add the ring and finger-tighten being careful not to burn yourself. I start with the largest jar.

  5. Using a canning tongs, lift the jar to a towel placed on the counter.

  6. Using potholders to protect your hands, tighten the ring onto the lid.

  7. Repeat for all jars.

  8. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature. (Overnight)

  9. Place in the fridge to cool the water to help put the yeast to sleep.(Overnight)

 On Bottling Day,

  1. Remove fermented beer from your fermenter. There is usually a small quantity of beer remaining on top of the yeast cake.

  2. Keep your fermenter covered/sealed to prevent contamination if you do not wash the yeast immediately.

  3. Add the water from your sanitized jars.

  4. Re-cover the jars with their lids to prevent contamination.

  5. Swirl up the yeast sediment until it is all suspended.

  6. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows solids to settle out, but the yeast will remain in suspension.

  7. Carefully pour from the fermenter into the ½-gallon jar. Completely fill the jar, but ensure none of the solids which have settled to the bottom of the fermenter are transferred into the jar.

  8. Tighten the lid and shake to re-suspend everything in the ½-gallon jar.

  9. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes.

  10. Carefully pour from the half-gallon jar into remaining smaller containers. Make sure none of the solids which have settled during the rest transfer into the smaller containers. You will lose a quantity of liquid so do not fill the containers completely, or just be happy with 3 pints.

  11. Refrigerate until needed or use immediately.


Two quart jars of yeastFresher yeast works better, so get brewing!

2 thoughts on “Podcast Episode #15 – Yeast Washing”

  1. Perfect timing. I just bottled this weekend and we thinking I need to research how to save the perfectly good yeast I was washing down the sink. I’m a little worried I might mess it up and kill my yeast. Do you have any recommendations for making sure the yeast is healthy before pitching?

    1. If you are going to use the yeast right away, just make sure you use a cleaned & sanitized container to collect the yeast and pitch into the next batch.

      If you wash the yeast and store it in your refrigerator for a while, you will want to make a yeast starter a couple days before you brew again. You can do this by using dry malt extract to create one quart of wort by combining 4 ounces of dry malt extract with a quart of water, boiling it to sanitize, then cool it. Once the starter is at room temperature, you can add your yeast to this smaller wort to reinvigorate the yeast then pitch it into your batch of beer.

      The process of yeast washing is not necessary if you are just pitching from one beer into a similar beer. However, by washing the yeast you are allowing other materials to drop out and separate from the yeast. For instance, if the beer had spices in it that you would not want in your next batch of beer, the sediment in the first two steps would include dead yeast cells and the spice debris.

      As long as you are using sanitized containers, your yeast should be fine.

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