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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: davidgzach on October 25, 2011, 06:51:55 am

Title: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 25, 2011, 06:51:55 am
I found myself up early on Saturday so I decided to brew my Stout for the holidays.  Unfortunately I only had one smack pack of Irish Ale yeast and no time to make a starter.  For the first time I actually read the instructions on the back.  Let me quote #5.

"pour Activator into 5 gallons of well aerated or oxygenated wort up to 1.060 OG at 65-72F.........for higher gravity or low temperature fermentations additional yeast may be necessary."

If I go to Mr.Malty, it says I need 2.3 packs without a starter.  I have to go all the way down to 1.025 OG to get Mr. Malty to 1 pack.

Why is Wyeast and Mr. Malty so far apart?  And if it really is 2.3 packs for 1.060 OG, why does Wyeast market 1 pack to 1.060 OG?  There just seems to be a rather large discrepency here and I would appreciate some insight as to why.

Dave
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: bo on October 25, 2011, 06:54:22 am
I'd go with the yeast supplier's rule. They're the experts.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: dmtaylor on October 25, 2011, 07:03:14 am
I'd go with Jamil Z (Mr. Malty).  He's won more awards with his homebrews than probably anyone else on the planet.  He doesn't say pitch big for no reason.

That being said, I think you'll be okay if you just pitch the one smackpack.  But the beer might not be the absolute ultimate best it could be unless you follow Mr. Malty.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: Jimmy K on October 25, 2011, 07:24:14 am
I think the difference is that one way will make good beer (WYeast) and the other will make great beer (MrMalty). The yeast companies (White Labs also sells 'pitchable tubes') have an economic dilemma - sell yeast that is easy to use and priced so that it will be widely adopted by amateur brewers. Sure they could double the size of their packs, but then they'd have to charge more and they'd loose lots of customers who won't pay more for the yeast for one batch. They are already a premium-priced product compared to dry yeast.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 25, 2011, 07:40:48 am
I think the difference is that one way will make good beer (WYeast) and the other will make great beer (MrMalty). The yeast companies (White Labs also sells 'pitchable tubes') have an economic dilemma - sell yeast that is easy to use and priced so that it will be widely adopted by amateur brewers. Sure they could double the size of their packs, but then they'd have to charge more and they'd loose lots of customers who won't pay more for the yeast for one batch. They are already a premium-priced product compared to dry yeast.

Dry yeast has come a long way, true.  BUT, I know that if I was at my LHBS and knew I could buy a "double" smack pack for $10 that would pitch the appropriate amount per Mr. Malty, I would.  And why couldn't WL just make a "double vial".  Still seems strange to me knowing that there are a lot of experienced homebrewers out here now.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: blatz on October 25, 2011, 07:48:07 am
I think the difference is that one way will make good beer (WYeast) and the other will make great beer (MrMalty). The yeast companies (White Labs also sells 'pitchable tubes') have an economic dilemma - sell yeast that is easy to use and priced so that it will be widely adopted by amateur brewers. Sure they could double the size of their packs, but then they'd have to charge more and they'd loose lots of customers who won't pay more for the yeast for one batch. They are already a premium-priced product compared to dry yeast.

Dry yeast has come a long way, true.  BUT, I know that if I was at my LHBS and knew I could buy a "double" smack pack for $10 that would pitch the appropriate amount per Mr. Malty, I would.  And why couldn't WL just make a "double vial".  Still seems strange to me knowing that there are a lot of experienced homebrewers out here now.

but david, we're already hooked - I do sometimes buy 3 vials if I don't have time to make a sufficient starter, but bumping from $7 for yeast to $14, you're not going to sell a lot of yeast to cheap, (er, I mean frugal) 'new' or occasional homebrewers, particularly when dry yeast is $3-$4 a pack.  my LHBS tells me all the time, he pretty much breaks even with guys like us, but its the random people who come in that he makes a profit on, and those people generally aren't going to pay that large spread.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 25, 2011, 07:51:32 am
Good point Blatz.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: Jimmy K on October 25, 2011, 08:01:06 am
but david, we're already hooked - I do sometimes buy 3 vials if I don't have time to make a sufficient starter, but bumping from $7 for yeast to $14, you're not going to sell a lot of yeast to cheap, (er, I mean frugal) 'new' or occasional homebrewers, particularly when dry yeast is $3-$4 a pack.  my LHBS tells me all the time, he pretty much breaks even with guys like us, but its the random people who come in that he makes a profit on, and those people generally aren't going to pay that large spread.

Exactly, the price of liquid yeast is already at LEAST double that of dry (more like 300% or more usually). For a hobby that is sold as 'inexpensive' to most beginners, $15 for yeast just isn't going to fly. And it is the beginners and intermediates that the yeast companies need to attract to stay in business.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: majorvices on October 25, 2011, 08:26:52 am

Why is Wyeast and Mr. Malty so far apart?  And if it really is 2.3 packs for 1.060 OG, why does Wyeast market 1 pack to 1.060 OG?  There just seems to be a rather large discrepency here and I would appreciate some insight as to why.

Dave

As was mentioned above, you can usually "get away" with pitching just the smack pack for lower gravity beers but you are running a risk of having problems, especially since you do not know how the yeast was handled before it got into your possession.

Here's a "must read" article on yeast pitching: http://www.byo.com/component/resource/article/1749-yeast-pitching-rates-advance-homebrewing

Also, I think it is important to note that when pro brewers order yeast they have it overnighted packed in ice packs in an insulated box and that the yeast comes as a slurry closer to the MrMalty recommendations than the cell counts the yeast companies recommend to homebrewers.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: narvin on October 25, 2011, 08:48:29 am
Wyeast has a calculator that gives you basically the same results as Jamil's:

http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_pitchrate.cfm


As others have mentioned, you can make beer by pitching less yeast, but you'll make better beer if you use the generally accepted (higher) pitching rates that brewing texts recommend and commercial brewers use.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: morticaixavier on October 25, 2011, 08:55:14 am
One thing to remember when using mr malty is to adjust the manufacture date. I was looking up a 5 gallon batch of 1.034 wort on mr malty and when I put the manufacture date in (it was really fresh, less than a week old) it told me I only needed .4 packs. Now I am not sure how I would go about measuring .4 smack packs of yeast or saving the other .6 so I pitched the whole thing. I guess i overpitched ;D
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: nateo on October 25, 2011, 08:56:15 am
We're basically just talking about "rules of thumb" here. From Wyeast's website: "A rough rule of thumb is to double pitch rates above 1.065 and triple pitch rates above 1.085. Or, more technically, a million cells per milliliter are needed for a 20degree plato"

Pitching the "standard" rate of 0.75m/ml/*P for ales is as much a "rule of thumb" as what Wyeast recommends. There's no way the "standard" rate will give you the optimal fermentation in every type of beer.

Without knowing the vitality and viability of our yeast, we're all just guessing. Jamil's method seems to work well for many people, but it should be taken for what it is: a rule of thumb.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: narvin on October 25, 2011, 09:06:12 am
We're basically just talking about "rules of thumb" here. From Wyeast's website: "A rough rule of thumb is to double pitch rates above 1.065 and triple pitch rates above 1.085. Or, more technically, a million cells per milliliter are needed for a 20degree plato"

Pitching the "standard" rate of 0.75m/ml/*P for ales is as much a "rule of thumb" as what Wyeast recommends. There's no way the "standard" rate will give you the optimal fermentation in every type of beer.

Right, this is something that's good to mention.  Even in brewing texts and the commercial world, pitching rates vary from place to place and style to style.

The Mr. Malty calculator assumes 0.75 million cells/ml/Plato for ales and twice that for lagers.  Wyeast basically claims that because this is fresh, lab grown yeast and not harvested yeast from a previous batch, you can get away with less for low gravity ales.  You can see that they recommend a lower pitching rate for beers under 1.060, while advocating using a higher rate closer to the commercial "standard" (if that truly exists) for high gravity beers.  They also rationalize their lager recommendations based on warm pitching, which is a great way to make a fruity lager unless you really have the ability to cool the beer fast in the first few hours after pitching.

http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_pitchrates.cfm

Given that yeast is not always shipped in optimal conditions, and may be sitting around for a month before you get it, I'm not sure that it's really true that you can pitch less because the yeast is fresh.  Homebrewers have had great success using Jamil's pitching rates.

I do think that Mr. Malty's yeast viability estimates are very pessimistic.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: denny on October 25, 2011, 09:46:01 am
I'd go with the yeast supplier's rule. They're the experts.

They're also in the marketing and "keeping it easy" business.  I trust my own results...no matter what Wyeast or mrmalty says, I know I get better results when I use a starter for beers Wyeast tells me I don't need a starter for.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: nateo on October 25, 2011, 09:51:14 am
They're also in the marketing and "keeping it easy" business.  I trust my own results...no matter what Wyeast or mrmalty says, I know I get better results when I use a starter for beers Wyeast tells me I don't need a starter for.

I think what Denny's getting at is there's more going on in a starter than just growing more cells. Even if you have "enough" yeast without a starter, a starter will provide cell growth, but more importantly will increase the health of the yeast. Vitality is far more important to good fermentation than pitching rate. 0.5m/ml/*P of healthy yeast will make better beer than 1.5m/ml/*P of sickly yeast.

Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: hoser on October 25, 2011, 10:05:27 am
I have also found that pitching an "active" starter gives better results because the yeast is ramped up and ready to go.  I like to make up a starter according to mrmalty.com.  Let it ferment out. Then chill.  On brew day decant and add 1L of my wort to the decanted yeast.  Get both my wort and yeast at the near the same temp so there is no schock.  Then once the yeast is "active" (usually after 2-3 hours), pitch it into my oxygenated wort.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: James Lorden on October 25, 2011, 10:39:43 am
Agreed,

I have brewed many batches that and there is only one that I think was over pitched - that beer was way better than most underpitched beers that I've tried.

The point - it's always better to err on the side of more.

If you are interested in saving money then learn to wash and reuse yeast from batch to batch!
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: bluesman on October 25, 2011, 10:58:51 am
I have found through my experience that pitching at a rate of .75 million cells/mL/degree plato(+/-5%)  for ales as prescribed by Jamil's calculator has rendered very good results, as opposed to underpitching at a rate of roughly half that (1 vial) for 5 gal of a 50GU beer. The end results speak for the themselves in this regard. This assumes a viable (healthy) yeast pitch.

To accurately count yeast cells, one would need a microscope and a hemocytometer. I am assuming the cell counts on the vial/smack packs are 100 billion cells of viable yeast. This is an assumption one must make when estimating and growing a yeast pitch.

My advice to anyone that's skeptical of Jamil's yeast pitching rate calculation is to do a side by side blind tasting, by splitting an appropriately sized batch of wort and pitching at .375 and .75 million cells/mL/degree plato accordingly. It's amazing the flavor difference. Try it for yourself.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: narvin on October 25, 2011, 12:11:53 pm

They're also in the marketing and "keeping it easy" business.  

Absolutely.  I made this out of boredom to show the Wyeast simplified pitching rates for ales versus what Mr. Malty uses. You can see that the simplified schedule is not very linear with respect to the gravity of the wort.

(http://oi52.tinypic.com/2wntny0.jpg)
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: nateo on October 25, 2011, 02:44:53 pm
Absolutely.  I made this out of boredom to show the Wyeast simplified pitching rates for ales versus what Mr. Malty uses. You can see that the simplified schedule is not very linear with respect to the gravity of the wort.

Should the graph be linear? I would expect a graph of the yeast required to get relatively steeper as the gravity increases, due to increasing osmotic pressure and decreasing wort O2 absorption.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: narvin on October 25, 2011, 03:02:25 pm
Should the graph be linear? I would expect a graph of the yeast required to get relatively steeper as the gravity increases, due to increasing osmotic pressure and decreasing wort O2 absorption.

Maybe not, but I think it should be constantly increasing as gravity increases.  3 fixed pitching rates seems like an oversimplification.

I do know that pitching a single pack of yeast in 1.060 wort gives me results that I don't like for most styles, which makes me think that this is all about marketing a product to the widest audience possible.  The yeast companies know that people who care about exact pitching rates will make a starter regardless of what they say.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: nateo on October 25, 2011, 03:09:34 pm
I do know that pitching a single pack of yeast in 1.060 wort gives me results that I don't like for most styles,

I agree, and fwiw I use Mr Malty all the time. I just wonder if a pitching rate curve that looked more like f(x) = x^3 would be more appropriate. That's just my gut feeling, with no facts to back that up.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: corkybstewart on October 25, 2011, 03:45:17 pm
What throw a lot of people off about mrmalty is the volumes he uses: for a lager you need a 3 gallon starter for instance.  Who wants to pitch a 3 gallon starter into 5 gallons of beer?  I know that I'm going to pour the liquid off and just use the slurry but that's what initially turned me away from using hi calculators.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: bo on October 25, 2011, 04:13:58 pm
You don't need a 3 gallon starter for 5 gallons of beer.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: nateo on October 25, 2011, 04:31:25 pm
What throw a lot of people off about mrmalty is the volumes he uses: for a lager you need a 3 gallon starter for instance.  Who wants to pitch a 3 gallon starter into 5 gallons of beer?  I know that I'm going to pour the liquid off and just use the slurry but that's what initially turned me away from using hi calculators.

Yeah I don't know of any calculator that does stepped starters well, which is really what you'd want to do if making a very large starter. I do those calculations by hand. Sean Terrill has a workaround using the mrrmalty rates on his website.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: tom on October 25, 2011, 05:02:52 pm
You don't need a 3 gallon starter for 5 gallons of beer.
Well, that is oversimplified at best.  A 2 qt starter is recommended for a regular strength ale and 4 qt for a lager.  Twice that for a 1.080 beer.  And more the higher you go.  And that's with fresh yeast.  I always pitch a "5 gallon starter" for my >1.100 beers and I am happy with the results.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 26, 2011, 06:42:50 am

Here's a "must read" article on yeast pitching: http://www.byo.com/component/resource/article/1749-yeast-pitching-rates-advance-homebrewing

Excellent article.....
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on October 26, 2011, 05:46:18 pm
Back to the price. My expert recoments to pitch 1 liter per one BBL of 1050 lager.
This translates to 5 liters of slurry that I need to buy. With shipping it is almost $500.

So if you do a little math you can find out that is expert recommendation for 5 gal or 10 gal batches.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: morticaixavier on October 27, 2011, 08:52:19 am
Back to the price. My expert recoments to pitch 1 liter per one BBL of 1050 lager.
This translates to 5 liters of slurry that I need to buy. With shipping it is almost $500.

So if you do a little math you can find out that is expert recommendation for 5 gal or 10 gal batches.

according to that pitching rate you need 156.25 ml for a 5 gallon batch of 1.050 lager. That's not a lot more than 2 smack packs or vials if you call the vial approx .5 actual yeast. If that measure is for the whole volume than that means a little over one pack or vial to 5 gallons. interesting! unless it's not a linear relationship.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: a10t2 on October 27, 2011, 11:06:55 am
Back to the price. My expert recoments to pitch 1 liter per one BBL of 1050 lager.
This translates to 5 liters of slurry that I need to buy. With shipping it is almost $500.

I don't know where you're getting the yeast, but BSI was charging me a little more than half that. It might be worth giving them a call.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: a10t2 on October 27, 2011, 11:13:26 am
Dry yeast has come a long way, true.  BUT, I know that if I was at my LHBS and knew I could buy a "double" smack pack for $10 that would pitch the appropriate amount per Mr. Malty, I would.  And why couldn't WL just make a "double vial".  Still seems strange to me knowing that there are a lot of experienced homebrewers out here now.

I suspect (without any evidence) that since White Labs and Wyeast are competing against one another in a high-volume, low-margin market, they're each wary of increasing prices and losing business to the other.

Note that when Wyeast came out with the Activator packs, White Labs increased the cell counts in the vials (and the price, IIRC) almost immediately.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 27, 2011, 11:14:52 am
That makes sense.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: narvin on October 27, 2011, 11:17:41 am
Back to the price. My expert recoments to pitch 1 liter per one BBL of 1050 lager.
This translates to 5 liters of slurry that I need to buy. With shipping it is almost $500.

So if you do a little math you can find out that is expert recommendation for 5 gal or 10 gal batches.

according to that pitching rate you need 156.25 ml for a 5 gallon batch of 1.050 lager. That's not a lot more than 2 smack packs or vials if you call the vial approx .5 actual yeast. If that measure is for the whole volume than that means a little over one pack or vial to 5 gallons. interesting! unless it's not a linear relationship.

Mr. Malty estimates that a medium density slurry of this size would be close to 400 billion cells, which seems like a more appropriate lager pitching rate for 5 gallons.  Given that a White Labs vial is 35 ml, this seems about right.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: morticaixavier on October 27, 2011, 11:46:19 am
Back to the price. My expert recoments to pitch 1 liter per one BBL of 1050 lager.
This translates to 5 liters of slurry that I need to buy. With shipping it is almost $500.

So if you do a little math you can find out that is expert recommendation for 5 gal or 10 gal batches.

according to that pitching rate you need 156.25 ml for a 5 gallon batch of 1.050 lager. That's not a lot more than 2 smack packs or vials if you call the vial approx .5 actual yeast. If that measure is for the whole volume than that means a little over one pack or vial to 5 gallons. interesting! unless it's not a linear relationship.

Mr. Malty estimates that a medium density slurry of this size would be close to 400 billion cells, which seems like a more appropriate lager pitching rate for 5 gallons.  Given that a White Labs vial is 35 ml, this seems about right.

Why did I think that a vial was 125 ml?
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: a10t2 on October 27, 2011, 04:34:54 pm
Why did I think that a vial was 125 ml?

The Wyeast activator packs are 125 mL.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: morticaixavier on October 28, 2011, 09:09:29 am
Why did I think that a vial was 125 ml?

The Wyeast activator packs are 125 mL.

ahh gotcha. but that is pretty thin slurry so I guess my calculations above are full of s***t. more like 4 vials or packs to 5 gallons. which is pretty close to what mr malty would indicate.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: chaz on October 28, 2011, 08:53:04 pm
I was discussing pitching rates and their website's pitching calculator with a Wyeast rep once and they straight up said to use Mr Malty instead for best results.
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 31, 2011, 09:40:06 am
I was discussing pitching rates and their website's pitching calculator with a Wyeast rep once and they straight up said to use Mr Malty instead for best results.

That is too funny. 
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: beersk on October 31, 2011, 12:32:50 pm
I was discussing pitching rates and their website's pitching calculator with a Wyeast rep once and they straight up said to use Mr Malty instead for best results.
Yeah, that's kinda weird.  Why would they even have the pitching rate calculator on their site in that case...
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: blatz on October 31, 2011, 02:50:42 pm
Yeah, that's kinda weird.  Why would they even have the pitching rate calculator on their site in that case...

well, they do also have 'pitchable' on their packaging  ;) ;D
Title: Re: Pitching Rates: Wyeast vs Mr. Malty
Post by: davidgzach on October 31, 2011, 02:53:33 pm
Yeah, that's kinda weird.  Why would they even have the pitching rate calculator on their site in that case...

well, they do also have 'pitchable' on their packaging  ;) ;D

And that's why I started this thread in the first place!   :D