Author Topic: The way you use your yeast...  (Read 4437 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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The way you use your yeast...
« on: September 25, 2015, 07:18:26 PM »
Guys:  I have had numerous conversations about this and wanted to bounce it around here.  Compared to other brewers, it appears that I have underpitched on ales and lagers.  This has been brought to my attention by many brewers but not by my beer.  I make A LOT of beer that ends up in the 4.5% to 5.5% range so they are not big.  I have made a small starter (650ml of water, ½ cup of DME) with lager yeast, gotten it active and just pitched that whole amount into 50° lager wort with good, quick activity and the resulting beer is great.  I have also just smacked a Wyeast pack of ale yeast and pitched it directly into 1.050 wort.  I did this yesterday with some active 1028.  Chilled the wort to about 60°, oxygenated with pure O2 for about 60 seconds and then dropped that primary into a tub with 10 gallons of 60° water in it and it's absolutely rocking today, about 26 hours after pitching.  When I reuse yeast, I harvest from primary on the same day I brew and I use MrMalty's calculator to determine what I need (usually around 170ml of slurry for an ale, 200ml for a lager).  On my lager starters, I did move to 1 liter starters with 7 ounces of DME to boost cell count but only because I had everything I needed for that.  So does this sound like underpitching?  Do people routinely just pitch a Wyeast pack of ale yeast into 1.050 wort?  I'd like to think that I'm bursting one of those homebrewing bubbles mentioned by Denny in his letter.  Cheers Beerheads.

EDIT:  I'm also curious to know who uses pure O2 in their wort and also in their starters.  I do this every time I brew or make a starter and I'm thinking it can make a difference.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 07:20:35 PM by Village Taphouse »

Offline 69franx

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2015, 07:23:24 PM »
I have been using O2 in my wort but just shaking the heck out of starters. Very happy with results from both
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Offline denny

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2015, 07:32:43 PM »
Ken, I'm doing something similar to what you do today as a test.  Rather than my usual 2-3 qt. starter on a stir plate, crashed and decanted, I made 1 qt. non stirred starter.  I'm pitching just past high krausen (bad timing) without decanting.  This is based on advice given here by S. Cerevisiae (AKA Mark Van Ditta). Results will be posted on my blog, along with the whole story.  I don't oxygenate the wort.  By the time I pump it from the kettle to the fermenter, the fermenter is full of foam and I call it goo.
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Online dmtaylor

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 08:00:57 PM »
I'm confident in the fact that any starter, no matter how small, is far better than no starter at all.

Fortunately, when my standard batch size is just 1.7 gallons, that's like a big starter by itself, and thus I usually skip the starter.  I only make starter for kolshes, alts and lagers.

Also, I try to use dry yeast whenever possible.  There are dozens of great dry yeasts these days, such that you often times don't need to use liquid yeast anyway, and of course you don't need to worry about making starters with dry.  Huge advantages to dry yeast.

So, yeah.  Even if you're "underpitching" according to MrMalty or whatever other expert out there..... if you're making a starter at all, you're miles ahead of the people who just throw in a vial of yeast unstarted and hope for the best.  Many of the worst beers I've ever made were done that latter way.  I don't do that anymore when I make a big 5 gallon batch (which I still do a couple times per year).

As for oxygen... when I make starters, they're shaken.  I do not own an aeration stone, stir plate, or oxygen tank.  Shake it up a couple times.  Works great.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 08:02:28 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 08:13:46 PM »
I'm confident in the fact that any starter, no matter how small, is far better than no starter at all.

Fortunately, when my standard batch size is just 1.7 gallons, that's like a big starter by itself, and thus I usually skip the starter.  I only make starter for kolshes, alts and lagers.

Also, I try to use dry yeast whenever possible.  There are dozens of great dry yeasts these days, such that you often times don't need to use liquid yeast anyway, and of course you don't need to worry about making starters with dry.  Huge advantages to dry yeast.

So, yeah.  Even if you're "underpitching" according to MrMalty or whatever other expert out there..... if you're making a starter at all, you're miles ahead of the people who just throw in a vial of yeast unstarted and hope for the best.  Many of the worst beers I've ever made were done that latter way.  I don't do that anymore when I make a big 5 gallon batch (which I still do a couple times per year).

As for oxygen... when I make starters, they're shaken.  I do not own an aeration stone, stir plate, or oxygen tank.  Shake it up a couple times.  Works great.

hmm i would argue that statement any starter is better than no starter as of recent experiments with pure pitch. i have used it with great results-no starter for ales. quality and state seems to trump quantity.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2015, 08:15:15 PM »
I've never followed the pitching calculators.  I know people have touted them as gospel for years, but I make my starters the same consistent way and the same consistent size and they work consistently for me.  Bigger beers will get a bigger starter. I've never stressed about cell counts since I don't know what I'm getting anyway.

I use O2 in my fermenters, but I don't use it in my starters.  I honestly can't tell you if it makes a difference, but I use it because I have it.  I believe it makes a difference in really big beers (1.08+) but I have not done any side by side tests so I can't say for sure.

Denny - I'm interested to see how your shake n' bake starter works out for you.  You and Mark have had a lively back and forth.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2015, 08:19:33 PM »
hmm i would argue that statement any starter is better than no starter as of recent experiments with pure pitch. i have used it with great results-no starter for ales. quality and state seems to trump quantity.

Ken - I have to admit, I didn't follow your pure pitch thread closely.  Did you do a side-by-side fermentation?  Or just the pure pitch compared to past fermentations?

I'm pretty much in line with Dave in that I think a starter is better than none.  But there are reasonable limits to that.  A 12 oz starter would be meaningless, if not detrimental.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2015, 08:23:38 PM »
hmm i would argue that statement any starter is better than no starter as of recent experiments with pure pitch. i have used it with great results-no starter for ales. quality and state seems to trump quantity.

Ken - I have to admit, I didn't follow your pure pitch thread closely.  Did you do a side-by-side fermentation?  Or just the pure pitch compared to past fermentations?

I'm pretty much in line with Dave in that I think a starter is better than none.  But there are reasonable limits to that.  A 12 oz starter would be meaningless, if not detrimental.

no side by side-just same recipe with starter, same recipe without with pure pitch. i can say for certain having both beers available for tasting and comparison, there was nothing at all that indicated any ill effects in the pure pitch non starter.  i'm not trying to convince anyone, just saying IME there is another path to great beer for me-and i have that proved out for myself after 2 different yeast strains and 4 batches with no starter pure pitch.
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Online dmtaylor

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2015, 08:33:17 PM »
no side by side-just same recipe with starter, same recipe without with pure pitch. i can say for certain having both beers available for tasting and comparison, there was nothing at all that indicated any ill effects in the pure pitch non starter.  i'm not trying to convince anyone, just saying IME there is another path to great beer for me-and i have that proved out for myself after 2 different yeast strains and 4 batches with no starter pure pitch.

Great.  Now try no starter with a 6-month old pack in 5.5 gallons of 1.080 doppelbock.

I'm not trying to be an ass.  I'm just making a point that there are exceptions to every rule of thumb.  If you've got reasonably fresh yeast and a gravity <1.060, then I'd say you're probably doing okay.  Just.... don't be surprised when a variable is off and you end up with 5 gallons of something you didn't really intend.

And then of course, if you're making a hefeweizen, then you really don't ever need a starter if the yeast is less than 6 months old.  It loves to be stressed out.  Exceptions to every rule.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2015, 08:36:29 PM »
Good stuff, guys.  Thanks for the replies.  I should add that my O2 is through a stone from an oxygen canister and I do have a stirplate for my starters.  I guess I'm thinking that some people do not use pure O2 which can make a difference and they also make bigger beers which would also make a difference but I also wonder if people just pitch "a metric buttload of yeast" because years of homebrewing doctrine has suggested that we must all pitch "a metric buttload of yeast".  I was with a new(er) brewer not long ago who lives a few streets from me.  He was making a 5% porter and had 3 Wyeast packs sitting on the table in the garage.  He said he didn't have time to make a starter so he was pitching more yeast.  That's $21 of yeast where one pack would probably have been okay as long as it was fresh and active and there was some O2 in solution. 

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2015, 08:37:47 PM »
no side by side-just same recipe with starter, same recipe without with pure pitch. i can say for certain having both beers available for tasting and comparison, there was nothing at all that indicated any ill effects in the pure pitch non starter.  i'm not trying to convince anyone, just saying IME there is another path to great beer for me-and i have that proved out for myself after 2 different yeast strains and 4 batches with no starter pure pitch.

Great.  Now try no starter with a 6-month old pack in 5.5 gallons of 1.080 doppelbock.

I'm not trying to be an ass.  I'm just making a point that there are exceptions to every rule of thumb.  If you've got reasonably fresh yeast and a gravity <1.060, then I'd say you're probably doing okay.  Just.... don't be surprised when a variable is off and you end up with 5 gallons of something you didn't really intend.

And then of course, if you're making a hefeweizen, then you really don't ever need a starter if the yeast is less than 6 months old.  It loves to be stressed out.  Exceptions to every rule.

Your point is fair and it's exactly what I outlined in my experiments. Conditions were fresh yeast, up to 1.065OG.

I don't know how high OG you would want to push a pack of pure pitch, but I do know 1.065 is just fine. Would I do that for a lager- nope.

Point is there has been a lot of people bucking the old ways lately regarding yeast and starters. I can tell you nearly everyone on this forum gave mark the business ( myself included) when he suggested making smaller starter without stir plate and pitching it at high krausen...and now many are reporting good results doing just that. Even Denny has decided to give it a shot and report his results.

Times are a changing fellas- and end of the day, if something you try fails, it's just beer.


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« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 08:39:44 PM by Wort-H.O.G. »
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
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Offline denny

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2015, 08:42:12 PM »
Denny - I'm interested to see how your shake n' bake starter works out for you.  You and Mark have had a lively back and forth.

We certainly have!  Even when I've disagreed with him based on my experience, I've had a lot of respect for his knowledge.  I decided that the open minded thing to do was to give it a try.  I regret that I didn't have time to do this as a real experiment, with a split batch of wort and starters made both ways.  But if this works (and I expect it to), a real experiment is in the offing.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2015, 08:50:14 PM »
I should have also framed this thread by saying that I realize how important yeast is and how touchy it can be if it's not handled right.  I also realize that I can't count cells or recreate lab-like conditions in my kitchen so I just try to do what works and turn my head and thank my lucky stars.  I make a lot of lagers and less-forgiving beers and I would think that I would have encountered a quality issue if I was not doing the right thing in terms of yeast.  I do not "save" yeast anymore, I make a starter for lagers or pitch a pack of ale Wyeast that is fresh and then I harvest that and repitch it on the same day.  I feel like under these conditions, using less yeast is okay even if that sounds like it goes against conventional wisdom.  Denny, I'd be interested to hear how your latest starter-beer goes.  Cheers.

Offline narcout

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2015, 08:50:59 PM »
The Mr. Malty yeast calculator uses the metric of (0.75 million cells) x (milliliters of wort) x (degree Plato) for ales and twice that for lagers.  Per www.mrmalty.com, this came from George Fix's book An Analysis of Brewing Techniques.

I'm not opining on whether that is a good metric, just pointing out how the calculator works. 

You can certainly pitch less. I think the result depends on a lot of different factors (strain, yeast health, oxygen levels, etc.) as well as personal preferences.

For some interesting info, use the search function on this site with the word "replication" or the phrase "replication periods"  and S. Cerevisiae as the user (this is the Mark referenced above).
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Offline denny

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Re: The way you use your yeast...
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2015, 08:53:17 PM »
Good stuff, guys.  Thanks for the replies.  I should add that my O2 is through a stone from an oxygen canister and I do have a stirplate for my starters.  I guess I'm thinking that some people do not use pure O2 which can make a difference and they also make bigger beers which would also make a difference but I also wonder if people just pitch "a metric buttload of yeast" because years of homebrewing doctrine has suggested that we must all pitch "a metric buttload of yeast".  I was with a new(er) brewer not long ago who lives a few streets from me.  He was making a 5% porter and had 3 Wyeast packs sitting on the table in the garage.  He said he didn't have time to make a starter so he was pitching more yeast.  That's $21 of yeast where one pack would probably have been okay as long as it was fresh and active and there was some O2 in solution.

Re: pitching rate...I am a believer in the Dr. Clayton Cone theory of overpitching leading to increased esters.  I know other people disagree, but I've found it to be true.  For the last several months I've been pitching slurries and certainly overpitching.  I noticed an increase in esters in my beer.  The impetus behind this trial was to see if I noticed a difference when I was pitching so much less yeast.  Although I'm not doing a split batch trial, I'm brewing a beer I've brewed dozens of times, so it will be interesting to see how it stacks up.
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