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Thread: top cropping: equipment options, and how to collect enough

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    top cropping: equipment options, and how to collect enough

    We want to top crop, and attempted to top crop on a recent batch. We used a large stainless ladle to collect foam, put it though a large funnel into a 1/2bbl keg brink. We discovered that even after we had filled the keg with foam, we hadn't collected a full keg of yeast because the foam eventually collapsed down to 1/6th of it's former volume.

    Any practical advice on how to achieve an effective top crop? is there some kind of anti-foam agent I can add to the brink, so that I can fit more foam in there? What kind of vessel do people collect foam into and how do they manage to capture enough cells? Is there equipment on the market that can facilitate top cropping?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    San Francisco, CA
    I work at a British-style joint, everything's done with top-cropped English ale yeast, I'll tell you what works for us.

    For scooping, we use a big stainless mesh sieve, like, a foot in diameter – the mesh is great for catching even finer foam and leaving beer behind.

    We collect into those clear plastic foodservice bins, two five-gallon bins are usually more than enough for our eight-barrel batches. Seal it up with extra-wide foodservice foil (so just one sheet will cover the whole top), clean with dye- and perfume-free soap and a soft rag (sham-wow or similar) to keep the plastic from getting scratches which can harbor bugs.

    In order to get more yeast and less air, we'll make more room by beating the foam down with a plastic homebrewer's mash paddle (dunno that this is the exact model we use, but it's in the ballpark), maybe three or four "beatings" per bin, you'll kinda get a feel for the point of diminishing returns. This is where the wide, open top of the foodservice bin really comes in handy.

    We don't take cell counts, so, I can't speak to that directly – but we get months of weekly use out of each lab-grown yeast pitch, and all our normal-gravity beers finish clean in four to five days, so, I'm confident we're not under-pitching with this technique.

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