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How Long Will Yeast Last After Being Washed?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by treyrab, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. treyrab

    treyrab Savant (445) California Aug 26, 2007 Verified

    I'd like to reuse my Wit yeast from a batch that I just brewed. I am going to wash it next week when I transfer the beer to my keg.

    Once I wash it (I'll put it in ~4 mason jars), how long will it last in my fridge?

  2. Gritsak

    Gritsak Savant (395) West Virginia Jan 22, 2004

    If you plan to step it up with starters first, it will last quite a while (1+ year) if prepared and stored properly. For a direct pitch, it would depend on the conditions and starting volume of viable yeast, but the length of time would be much shorter.
  3. treyrab

    treyrab Savant (445) California Aug 26, 2007 Verified

    Alright, thanks! So if I plan to save the yeast to make a summer wit (~4 months), it should be fine with a starter...
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    What do you mean by prepared and stored properly? I would not try to store yeast in a fridge for a year. Viability would suck. I can imagine doing this with some rare/unavailable strain, I guess.
  5. Gritsak

    Gritsak Savant (395) West Virginia Jan 22, 2004

    Meaning the yeast is washed well and stored at proper temps. I wouldn't go through the trouble of stepping up old yeast when a fresh vial is only $5-8, but it can be done. I've used washed yeast that's been in my fridge for over six months and WL vials that are 6+ months past their expiration (making them 10+ months old) and both were fine after stepping them up.
  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Me either.
  7. CBlack85

    CBlack85 Advocate (555) South Carolina Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    I would think that it would probably be ok for a few months, but I wouldn't push it too far. I usually try to use it within a month or two at most
  8. kbuzz

    kbuzz Champion (770) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    I try not to surpass two months...not saying I haven't had success with older washed yeast...but 2 months is my comfortability threshold.
    Beerontwowheels likes this.
  9. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Savant (445) Virginia Nov 10, 2010 Subscriber

    IDK how long it will last.

    I do know my harvested and washed WLP400 Wit yeast was held for ~6wks...then pitched into a small starter and held it again for a few weeks before making another full-size starter and pitching that into a Wit v2.0 last evening.

    The good ship Fermentation set sail late this afternoon...so all else bring equal...looks like it worked.
  10. kneary13

    kneary13 Savant (320) Massachusetts Jan 30, 2010

    can i poll the group here about how many of you take the yeast off after 4-7 days and rack your beer, and how many let it ride for a full 14 days before storing for later use? not sure how much of an effect that would have on later viability.
  11. A couple of weeks ago I used some WLP530 that I had washed, maybe three or four months old, the starter started quick and it smelled great, as does the just now finished beer I made with it. I've seen on HBT and Jim's beer kit a few posters saying it's good up to a year

    I think resuing yeast is a good idea, either by top cropping or rinsing, especially considering here at least it can cost up to half the price of a batch of beer.

    Plus plenty of yeasts can improve over a few generations too
  12. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Where is here?
  13. Anybody know how the yeast banks work? The breweries I deal with have samples commercially stored so that if they lose their strain it can be replaced.It can apparently be kept for years but I've no idea what needs to be done to make this workable.

  14. I should have said in the UK , it's about £6.50 a vial . Not exactly breaking the bank admittedly but every little helps :)
  15. mattbk

    mattbk Savant (425) New York Dec 12, 2011


    I would guess something very similar happens at commercial breweries, except they may use liquid nitrogen, and/or store their master banks off site. I'd be curious if anyone else on this site knows if this is an accurate statement.
  16. koopa

    koopa Champion (835) New Jersey Apr 20, 2008

    When I've washed and collected yeast, I usually get 4 pint sized mason jars out of a yeast cake.

    I've read that within 2-3 weeks (other sources said up to 6 if I recall correctly) you can simply repitch one pint jar w/o making a starter.

    I've read that beyond that time frame, you should make a starter with one pint jar.

    I've read that you can reuse yeast up to 1 year later, but it will require you to step up your starter multiple times.

    My question is could you substitute decanting and pitching the yeast from more than 1 of the pint jars for making a starter / making a multi step starter?

    So, for example:

    pitch 2 of the 4 portions without a starter say 3-4 months after washing
    pitch 3 of the 4 portions without a starter say 5-6 months after washing
    pitch 4 of the 4 portions without a starter say 7-8 months after washing

    Obviously those time frames and pitch amounts are just a guesstimate and some hard math on cell counts and viability would have to be done to come up with the exact values, but you get the gist of my question!!!
  17. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (470) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I'll be the first to admit that I'd be uncomfortable trying to set up a slant to freeze yeast in my freezer. It's just too much work. My setup: I make a a starter for yeast. I'll pitch and save it. I'll use it a second time within 5 or 6 weeks, or I'll make a starter. If the yeast goes past 2 or 3 months, I'll really consider throwing it out. I've used yeast that's 6 months old. I don't know how much I under pitched by, but it still made pretty good beer.
  18. kbuzz

    kbuzz Champion (770) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    I grow my yeast w/o washing and just pour off a mason jar's worth when I need it...

    Buy a vial/packet of yeast and step it up two or three times, one liter at a time...in between each step, crash cool the starter so you can decant as much liquid as possible before the next step up. Make sure the last step up is about 2-3 days before your next brew...then the morning of your brew, while the yeast is still in suspension, pour out enough to fill a mason jar and leave it out until you brew...put the remainder of your starter in the fridge and then before your next brew, step it up a liter and pour out another mason jar, put back in fridge...etc...

    Hope that makes sense...and this assumes you brew often enough that the main culture doesn't sit in the fridge for longer than a few weeks at a time.

    I do this with two different strains...haven't bought yeast in almost a year now
    HerbMeowing likes this.
  19. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (470) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I see what you're trying to do. It sounds like a lot of work, but if you were trying to keep 12 strains of yeast healthy your efforts would be more worthwhile. That said, do you really need to put all that work towards keeping 12 yeast strains alive? I've had trouble keeping more than 3 healthy and this is when I was brewing once a month for at least 6 months. I've never pitched a strain more than 3 or 4 times and I'm impressed that some of the guys on here are able to use a strain 10+ times.