New book and yeast culturing from Alchemist Heady Topper

Today the mailman dropped a package through my door, containing a book about hops that my girlfriend bought as a Christmas present for me. Hops are my favorite ingredient in beer, and can’t wait to read through this recently released book written by Stan Hieronymus. For the Love of Hops belongs to the same series of books as Yeast by Jamil Zainasheff and Chris White, and the soon to be released Water by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski. I’ve only quickly looked through the book, but there seems to be lots of awesome information, including stuff on hop chemistry, hop growing, recipe formulation and hop types. I’ll write a blog post with a short review once I’ve finished it! Thanks Pia!


On another note, I’ve been culturing up some yeast from a can of Alchemist’s Heady Topper the last week. The can was quite old (I bought it in June, so it was at least 6 months old, probably closer to 9-12), but to my surprise and joy, I’ve been getting some yeast growth. Alchemist use a proprietary yeast strain (most likely an ale strain), dubbed ‘Conan’, which they use to ferment their famous Heady Topper. I really loved that beer, and apparently the yeast contributes with a large amount of its magnificent aroma. Since the yeast isn’t available to buy anywhere, the only way to get hold of it is to culture it yourself, which is possible since the beer is unfiltered. Others (see here and here) have been successful, so I thought I’d give it a try. I began by autoclaving 1.5 liters of 1.030 wort (sterility is vital when trying to grow small amounts of yeast with low viability). I then sanitized the can (using 70% ethanol), poured off the majority of the beer, and poured the yeast (and hop debris) slurry at the bottom of the can into approximately 200 ml of the sterile wort (all this working in a laminar flow cabinet). I let the yeast grow for three days in 25 degrees C on an orbital shaker set at 120 RPM. After three days, I removed the flask from the shaker, and put it in a cold room, to allow the yeast to sediment for a couple of days. I poured off the supernatant beer, and poured the yeast slurry into approximately 1 liter of wort. I again let the yeast grow for three days in 25 degrees C on an orbital shaker set at 120 RPM. Today I took the flask off the shaker and placed it in the cold room for sedimentation. The flask is smelling fruity and there has been lots of yeast growth (a nice light brown opaque color to the wort). The yeast seems to sediment quite slowly, but we will see in a couple of days. Really looking forward to using this yeast on an actual beer, since its characteristics sound awesome (high attenuation and fruity aroma (peach and tropical fruits)). Will keep you updated once I have more information. If anyone is interested in a small amount of Conan yeast, contact me and we can try to work it out.

14 thoughts on “New book and yeast culturing from Alchemist Heady Topper

  1. Keith

    I just read your post regarding the conan yeast. I am dying to get a slant of conan to brew with. I live in VA and do not have access to Heady Topper. I slant yeast quite often but don’t have anything that can’t be purchased from a home brew store. If I did, I would be willing to trade. Is there any way that I could get a slant or small sample of the Conan from you? I can mail a sterile slant if needed. I can also pay the postage. Please let me know if this is something you would consider.


  2. Writerelated

    I found your blog via a Google search. I was looking for somebody on the internet that was willing to trade Conan yeast. I know that Conan yeast can only be harvested from Heady Topper and that Heady Topper is only available in Vermont. I am way out on the opposite coast in Southern California.

    I read your post and see that your favorite ingredient is hops. My favorite ingredient is yeast. In my refrigerator I have Hoegaarden yeast, Widmer Hefeweizen yeast, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale yeast, and 1Door Saison yeast. From my research the Widmer Hef yeast is most likely an Alt yeast. After fermenting a couple batches with it and observing the characteristics I would have to say its an Alt yeast.

    In my refrigerator I have a bottle of Double Bastard 2012 from Stone and I have a six pack of Rogue Mocha Porter. I plan on harvesting those 2 yeast soon.

    I would like to trade for a small vial of yeast slurry or pay you for postage and materials. It does not need to be a lot just enough for me to step it up. If you are interested in any of the yeast that I have above I could trade you. In my freezer I have Belma hops which is an exclusive variety that I bought from Hops Direct. I would also be willing to trade you some Belma hops, but I don’t know how well they keep in the mail. I could also send you money for postage and materials if that is what you prefer. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  3. Ale

    Hey man, you have a great blog here. Nice to see an English written blog from Finland. I do not know how I did not find it earlier. Regarding the isolation of the yeast strain, were you able to purify it from single colony on an agar plate? Are you planning to do it?

    Greetings from Tampere

  4. suregork Post author

    Thanks for the comment and glad you like the blog 🙂 I have streaked a couple of plates from single colonies yes, are you interested in a plate?

  5. Rob

    Great blog. I live far away from were Heady Topper is brewed. I cant get a sample of it here. I was hoping that you might contact me , and help me to obtain a small quanity of the Conan yeast so I can brew the Heady Topper clone recipe for myself. thank you for any hepl you may give me. Sincerely Robert

  6. Ryan

    Greetings. I’ll have access to some Conan yeast in a couple weeks when a friend returns from his Honeymoon. We’re going to farm it out. However, I was curious if you had any going spare that you could ship. I’d love to get some and farm it myself if the other doesn’t pan out. Please let me know Thanks!!! 🙂

  7. suregork Post author

    I unfortunately don’t have extra Conan available currently. Hope you’ll get some from your friend!

  8. Aiden

    Hi, Suregork!

    I am seriously loving your site, and, having run out of homebrew blogs to soak in (I’ve read through every single post of so many!), I was so excited to find yours. I’m a native Californian with Swedish family and I’m currently living in Stockholm, study a masters degree in atmospheric physics, but brewing my butt off, and leader of a small brewery section in a student union (Naturvetenskapliga Föreningen). We brew constantly and we were wondering – is there any chance that we might be able to make a trade or arrange a sample for some Conan yeast? We’d be so thankful! Otherwise, if you don’t have the ability to, could you possibly point the way to a source for Vermont Ale yeast or Conan elsewhere in Scandinavia? Otherwise, I’m just going to have to smuggle some back in when I visit Los Angeles again in the summer, ordering from The Yeast Bay or Giga Yeast – and would totally be ready to replenish you if you want!

    Many good vibes from a budding brew blogger and lots of admiration,
    Aiden 🙂

  9. suregork Post author

    Thanks a lot for your kind words! You have an interesting blog as well 🙂 I’m sure some yeast trading can be arranged. I’ll contact you by email with the details.

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