Top Cropping: A Three Beer Run

About a year ago a neighbor of mine got me in to top cropping. After a couple close calls with glass carboys I had already been thinking of switching back to buckets or going to Better Bottles. However when I talked to him about top cropping I got so intrigued by the idea that I decided to go full circle and end back up at fermenting in plastic buckets. I did top cropping with a few different yeasts – only going a couple generations with each as I was mostly testing the top crop ability and flavor profile of various yeasts to see which I would go with in the future. Well life got a little chaotic for a bit, and I tried some new beer styles and the whole top crop thing got shelved for awhile. That will change this weekend.

I’m going to do a three beer run (brewing a beer every other week) utilizing one pack of Safale S-05. I’ve had good luck top cropping it when I first experimented with it, and it’s a nice inexpensive alternative to comparable clean fermenting American ale yeasts. I’ll be starting with an American Wheat ale this weekend. Two weeks later I’ll brew an American Brown. Then I’ll finish it up with an IPA two weeks after the Brown.

I’ll top crop the yeast from each batch approximately 36 hours after pitching the yeast. I’ve found this to be the best time with the S-05; though if it looks like there’s limited krausen then I’ll wait until more develops so I can get a good volume of the best yeast possible. I’ll collect the yeast in a 500ml Erlenmeyer flask, topped up with distilled water and covered loosely with sanitized aluminum foil. It’ll be kept in my lagering fridge which is kept around 36F. I’ll try to post brewday notes and observations for each of the beers I make along with anything else that comes up during this 3 beer run. If all goes well I’ll do a 4 or 5 beer run with an English ale yeast next.