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Thread: Top Cropping Processes

  1. #1
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    Top Cropping Processes

    Hi all,

    I'd really appreciate hearing best practices or processes for top cropping yeast from cylindroconical fermenters with small (4") dry hop ports. I've had various issues harvesting yeast primarily due to the fact that I'm dry hopping during fermentation on our NEIPA's. If I could harvest from the top first and then add the dry hop charge, it would be the most ideal situation.

    Has anyone done this with success? What kind of pump and setup did you use? Thanks.
    Jay
    Southern Swells Brewing
    Jacksonville Beach, FL

  2. #2
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    I’ve done that with London ale 3 with top manway fermenters and a big stainless soup ladle. Worked great, but was always a pain to coordinate that into the schedule as the yeast won’t wait for you.

    Unsolicited Side note: I have tried the whole mid ferm dry hopping thing with our northeast IPA’s many times and haven’t been a fan, In my exp. seems like it just blows off all the good stuff and the beer doesn’t turn out as aromatic. Obviously you like the result, what is it doing for you that your willing to change your process for?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard View Post
    I’ve done that with London ale 3 with top manway fermenters and a big stainless soup ladle. Worked great, but was always a pain to coordinate that into the schedule as the yeast won’t wait for you.

    Unsolicited Side note: I have tried the whole mid ferm dry hopping thing with our northeast IPA’s many times and haven’t been a fan, In my exp. seems like it just blows off all the good stuff and the beer doesn’t turn out as aromatic. Obviously you like the result, what is it doing for you that your willing to change your process for?
    I've dry hopped at all stages of fermentation and find that you just don't get as fruity aromatics/flavors when dry hopping once fermentations complete. It's more of a fresh, out of the bag hop aroma. Are you saying you dry hop your NEIPAs similar to a west coast style after fermenting and harvesting? If not, what's your process like for harvesting from these beers? When dry hopping in the middle of the action The yeast and dry hops are too well mixed together instead of having a nice stratification of trub then yeast in the cone.
    Jay
    Southern Swells Brewing
    Jacksonville Beach, FL

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsvarney5 View Post
    I've dry hopped at all stages of fermentation and find that you just don't get as fruity aromatics/flavors when dry hopping once fermentations complete. It's more of a fresh, out of the bag hop aroma. Are you saying you dry hop your NEIPAs similar to a west coast style after fermenting and harvesting? If not, what's your process like for harvesting from these beers? When dry hopping in the middle of the action The yeast and dry hops are too well mixed together instead of having a nice stratification of trub then yeast in the cone.
    Yes, we dry hop at the end of fermentation like a normal west coast style IPA, and I'm sure lots of other New England IPA brewers do the same. Although I have heard as well that many do the mid Ferm thing. We still get the same hazy, soft, peachy thing that you would expect in a NE IPA, I guess different strokes for different folks.

    as for the yeast cropping thing, we did all our top cropping with top manway fermenter. if you have any top manway fermenters I would suggest scooping the yeast out into a sanitized container that you can put on a scale and weigh while you are cropping. If you dont have a top manway fermenter, maybe some sort of racking arm through the top of the fermenter would work? when at high Krausen cap the fermenter and use the fermentation pressure to push yeast though the racking arm in the top of the fermenter into some sort of collection vessel. this would take some fine tuning, but I'm unaware of any other solution besides literally scooping the yeast off the top.

  5. #5
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    Not the same tank configuration, but in the bigger top cropping yeast breweries I am familiar with, they use a vacuum system - typically a vacuum tank into which the yeast is sucked. But of course this is a fairly expensive system - ok for multi thousands of barrels / year, but not for say a 10 brl setup. If you got a simple vacuum pump it is highly unlikely to be sanitary. The only commonly available (read cheap) pump I would try is a peristaltic, which in theory can suck gas, so should be able to pump yeast slurry containing CO2, but I have never tried it, so definitely cannot be certain. Fix a rigid wand to the end of the suction hose and move it around to crop the yeast (assuming the pump sucks OK) - though this is going to be fairly difficult through a 4 inch port .
    dick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard View Post
    Yes, we dry hop at the end of fermentation like a normal west coast style IPA, and I'm sure lots of other New England IPA brewers do the same. Although I have heard as well that many do the mid Ferm thing. We still get the same hazy, soft, peachy thing that you would expect in a NE IPA, I guess different strokes for different folks.

    as for the yeast cropping thing, we did all our top cropping with top manway fermenter. if you have any top manway fermenters I would suggest scooping the yeast out into a sanitized container that you can put on a scale and weigh while you are cropping. If you dont have a top manway fermenter, maybe some sort of racking arm through the top of the fermenter would work? when at high Krausen cap the fermenter and use the fermentation pressure to push yeast though the racking arm in the top of the fermenter into some sort of collection vessel. this would take some fine tuning, but I'm unaware of any other solution besides literally scooping the yeast off the top.
    Thanks for the comments. So are you currently harvesting yeast on these beers that you're hopping toward the end of ferm? if so what's your process look like? Are you finding your strain is flocculating prior to that even without a temp drop so you harvest and the add the dry hop charge? Or are you harvesting after dry hop? I appreciate it.
    Jay
    Southern Swells Brewing
    Jacksonville Beach, FL

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick murton View Post
    Not the same tank configuration, but in the bigger top cropping yeast breweries I am familiar with, they use a vacuum system - typically a vacuum tank into which the yeast is sucked. But of course this is a fairly expensive system - ok for multi thousands of barrels / year, but not for say a 10 brl setup. If you got a simple vacuum pump it is highly unlikely to be sanitary. The only commonly available (read cheap) pump I would try is a peristaltic, which in theory can suck gas, so should be able to pump yeast slurry containing CO2, but I have never tried it, so definitely cannot be certain. Fix a rigid wand to the end of the suction hose and move it around to crop the yeast (assuming the pump sucks OK) - though this is going to be fairly difficult through a 4 inch port .
    Thanks dick. This is kind of what i was thinking but id need a fairly long, rigid end of the suction hose to get it through the small port and reach most of the surface area of yeast. Not sure then if the pump would be able to suck effectively with that setup. Was hoping others may have tried this already but doesnt sound like it. I appreciate the thoughts on this.
    Jay
    Southern Swells Brewing
    Jacksonville Beach, FL

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsvarney5 View Post
    Thanks for the comments. So are you currently harvesting yeast on these beers that you're hopping toward the end of ferm? if so what's your process look like? Are you finding your strain is flocculating prior to that even without a temp drop so you harvest and the add the dry hop charge? Or are you harvesting after dry hop? I appreciate it.
    With London ale 3, when it is nearing terminal gravity usually all the yeast rises to the top and sits there for a couple days. If you pull anything off the cone then it’s likely going to be very thin. Really low cell counts. I usually wait till day 6-7 drop 4 degrees F then grab yeast. Dump the rest of the yeast off the bottom before dry hopping.

  9. #9
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    If you repitch what is meant to be a top cropping yeast, with yeast you have taken from the bottom, that yeast is likely to be atypical, almost certainly with reduced viability and vitality, and over a few re-pitches like this you may notice a difference in flavour, speed of fermentation, yeast crop mass, possibly fining characteristics. And it may well have higher levels of non yeast debris So I would never advocate using bottom cropped yeast except in an absolute emergency as a "one off"

    You may be lucky as one of the breweries I worked at had a couple of bottom cropping yeasts derived from their top cropping yeasts, but that was done with the assistance of large R&D labs, to check this sort of thing out on pilot scale brews before being implemented commercially. I suspect that as this was perhaps 30 years ago, possibly longer, the yeast strains were not as pure as modern single strain cultures and so variation within a "single cell strain" was greater.
    dick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard View Post
    With London ale 3, when it is nearing terminal gravity usually all the yeast rises to the top and sits there for a couple days. If you pull anything off the cone then it’s likely going to be very thin. Really low cell counts. I usually wait till day 6-7 drop 4 degrees F then grab yeast. Dump the rest of the yeast off the bottom before dry hopping.
    what temp are you at on day 6-7? around 70f? you only drop 4f and it causes it to flocc out? How long do how crash for before harvesting?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick murton View Post
    If you repitch what is meant to be a top cropping yeast, with yeast you have taken from the bottom, that yeast is likely to be atypical, almost certainly with reduced viability and vitality, and over a few re-pitches like this you may notice a difference in flavour, speed of fermentation, yeast crop mass, possibly fining characteristics. And it may well have higher levels of non yeast debris So I would never advocate using bottom cropped yeast except in an absolute emergency as a "one off"

    You may be lucky as one of the breweries I worked at had a couple of bottom cropping yeasts derived from their top cropping yeasts, but that was done with the assistance of large R&D labs, to check this sort of thing out on pilot scale brews before being implemented commercially. I suspect that as this was perhaps 30 years ago, possibly longer, the yeast strains were not as pure as modern single strain cultures and so variation within a "single cell strain" was greater.
    Agree with this, although some top cropping strains won’t stay up on top of the beer for long; depending on various conditions; And can be successfully bottom cropped after the yeast falls.

    Quote Originally Posted by FourSeasons View Post
    what temp are you at on day 6-7? around 70f? you only drop 4f and it causes it to flocc out? How long do how crash for before harvesting?
    Usually we hit terminal on day 4, usually at 69-70 degrees F. the yeast sits on top for a couple days, and as it’s dropping down day 6-7 we’ll crash it 4 degrees or so. Wait a day, and crop. You could even drop the “atypical” slurry out on day 4-5 to make sure either the top crop is falling down or the yeast still in suspension is falling down.
    Your process may need to be adjusted based off your results, always verify your getting good healthy yeast with viability test under a microscope.

    Clarification: I absolutely think top cropping is the best way to harvest top cropping strains, for reasons dick mentioned and because you are garaunteed better viability taking healthy yeast off the top. If you have the means to top crop absolutely do so
    Last edited by Junkyard; 11-06-2017 at 07:19 AM.

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    Wild idea here

    Quote Originally Posted by jsvarney5 View Post
    Hi all,

    I'd really appreciate hearing best practices or processes for top cropping yeast from cylindroconical fermenters with small (4") dry hop ports. I've had various issues harvesting yeast primarily due to the fact that I'm dry hopping during fermentation on our NEIPA's. If I could harvest from the top first and then add the dry hop charge, it would be the most ideal situation.

    Has anyone done this with success? What kind of pump and setup did you use? Thanks.
    I was wondering the same thing today and I came across this thread.

    My idea was this:

    I'm putting 9bbls into a 7 bbl fermenter and I have a lot of messy, yeasty buckets. good yeast, that I'm hosing down the drain. My idea was to simply attach a hose to the blowoff and connect it to the next fermenter. A daisy chain. I would brew another batch the next day, and it would be sort of like a burton union system, but the collection vessel would be a batch of beer. The only problem I can think of is no cell count, but I don't have the means to do that anyways.

  13. #13
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    It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but the downsides might be getting inconsistent flavor profiles from inconsistent pitch rates.

    Edit: after commenting on this post in 2017 I decided to try out what dick was saying about vacuuming yeast with a peristaltic pump. Turns out it works! It is now our SOP with London 3 and our beers are better because of it. I have a video I will attach

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    Very interested in the video!

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard View Post
    It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but the downsides might be getting inconsistent flavor profiles from inconsistent pitch rates.

    Edit: after commenting on this post in 2017 I decided to try out what dick was saying about vacuuming yeast with a peristaltic pump. Turns out it works! It is now our SOP with London 3 and our beers are better because of it. I have a video I will attach

    also very interested in the video!

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