Author Topic: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable  (Read 1787 times)

Offline Lager

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UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« on: June 24, 2011, 08:16:29 AM »
I am going to brew a session strength Saison with O.G. of 1.045. I am using a French Saison yeast strain (3711) that is known to be a workhorse. It was shipped Tuesday and arrived today (Friday). I am sure that the ride in the delivery truck, especially to here in the south will do some damage. So I ordered two smack packs and 3 ice packs. I have ordered this way plenty times before and the pack always swells so I know there is some good yeast, just not 100%. My question is: I have heard that sometimes it is better to under pitch, especially with certain Belgian or German strains if you are really trying to make the yeast works harder which will help to develop their signature characteristic(s) even more. Is this true?
If it is true, considering the style I am brewing, the O.G., & the yeast strain what would you do to get the profile correct? Pitch one or two packs? Or a starter (with one pack)? I would really prefer not doing a starter, but is that the better option in terms of profile and flavor characteristic development?
Also the recommended temp for the yeast is 65-77 F. Would using a temp on or above the higher/lower range help to enhance the profile?
Thanks

Offline dbeechum

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2011, 08:18:19 AM »
I wouldn't underpitch with the Saison strains. I feel like you'd be asking for trouble that way.

In the case of fermentation, my typical routine is to cool my wort to 63-65. Pitch and let it free rise in a water bath. With the French Saison strain I probably wouldn't go above 75F
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2011, 08:41:30 AM »
With a 1.045 OG wouldn't one packet be more or less enough yeast? not really even under pitching at that point it is?
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Offline denny

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2011, 08:57:44 AM »
Underpitching may or may not be a way of developing flavors.  There are conflicting opinions and no hard evidence that I'm aware of.  In any case, it's a difficult way to try to develop flavor.  Yeast strain, recipe and fermentation temp are much better ways to approach it.
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Offline beersk

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2011, 10:45:56 AM »
It's funny people talk about modern fermentation temperatures with saisons...this style was originally to be fermented WARM, like in the 80's.  
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 10:47:37 AM by beersk »
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Offline denny

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 11:01:08 AM »
It's funny people talk about modern fermentation temperatures with saisons...this style was originally to be fermented WARM, like in the 80's.  

In general, that's true.  But 3711 likes it cooler.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2011, 11:04:04 AM »
And my experiments bear this out.

Remember in Belgium, it's not that hot during the early spring!

ETA: And we're dealing with modern yeasts selected for thier performance in a commercial brewery, not a farmhouse.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2011, 11:08:54 AM »
Underpitching is an important factor when brewing Weizens.  It accentuates ester formation.  For Belgian strains, its debatable if it would be desirable.  Wit, maybe.  Others might be over the top. 

Given that the OP is creating a Session gravity and the potential for excessive fermentation byproducts is reduced, then I think it might be a feasible experiment. 
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2011, 11:09:10 AM »
Underpitching may or may not be a way of developing flavors.  There are conflicting opinions and no hard evidence that I'm aware of.
One of the talks I went to at NHC said that basically there is strain dependency in this, so one strain may develop more yeast character when underpitched, and another when overpitched.  Sounds like testing and personal experience are the way to go.
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Offline nateo

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Re: UNDERPITCHING, Could it be desirable
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2011, 06:34:30 AM »
Underpitching may or may not be a way of developing flavors.  There are conflicting opinions and no hard evidence that I'm aware of.
One of the talks I went to at NHC said that basically there is strain dependency in this, so one strain may develop more yeast character when underpitched, and another when overpitched.  Sounds like testing and personal experience are the way to go.

"Standard" pitching rates seem like such a WAG to me that there's no way they're the "best" pitching rate for every yeast and every style. Wyeast says <1.060 and you need 6m cells/ml, while over 1.061 you need 12m/ml. If you go by the (0.75m)x(degrees plato)x(ml), then a 1.061 beer would need 11.25m/ml. I doubt Wyeast would publish that pitching rate for their products if it didn't give acceptable results most of the time for most brewers.

A lot of people talk about "overpitching" and "underpitching" and some people claim success and others failure with either. I suspect there are a dozen reasons for the differing outcomes, like the brewer's fermentation controls, yeast health, oxygenation levels, brew process, etc. I'd say any amount of yeast you pitch to get the flavors you want is the "correct" amount to pitch, and any rule-of-thumb on pitching rates is just that, a rule-of-thumb.
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