Don't believe the yeast calculator!

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by J A, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Here's the scenario: 5.5 gallon batch, 1.055 gravity, WLP810 yeast. Yeast calculator settings: Pro Brewer 1.5 (Lager), 3 (THREE!!) vials of fairly fresh (30-day) yeast.... Calculator says still need a 2-liter starter?
    Really?!!
    I just refuse to believe that 3 times the manufacturer's recommendation (5 gallons of less than 1.060 gravity wort per 1 vial before best-by date) is not enough.
    Need to nail the fermentation because A) ...competition brew and B)...relatively schedule, so don't want to take any chances.
    Thoughts?
     
  2. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    The yeast calculator ALWAYS tells me I need a TON of yeast. I've made great ales with only one vial of liquid yeast (hefe) at 1.054. - I started using the calculator and making starters (2L) and my hefeweizen got all the wrong notes! - Consistently. Went back to my old ways.

    That's just my two cents. I honestly believe for most my beers - even lagers - I can get away with being under. I doubt you need a 2L starter - See what some others say.
     
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  3. Group W

    Group W Well-Known Member

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    #3 Group W, Jun 24, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
    So the calculator says you need about 425B cells. On a stir plate two vials should get you enough in a 2 liter starter, or one vial in a 3 liter starter.

    I under pitched a lager last year with one pac of Wyeast (100B cells) and months later we tried it - yuck diacetyl. Better to over pitch.
     
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  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    5 gallons of beer is 18,927 ml. I did the math: Using the Pro Lager rate of 1.5 million cells/ml/degree Plato, I get 357 billion cells required. The math checks; however, I believe the calculator is based on repitching slurry, not using fresh yeast. I'm doing a Helles tomorrow, two packets of dry yeast, rehydrated, pitched into a 2-liter starter. I don't remember the factor for using fresh yeast right off hand but I believe you can get by with quite a bit less than the calculator says.
     
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  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I did a quick search - for fresh yeast, about half the pro brewer rate is generally good enough - but better safe than sorry IMHO. If I'm using dry yeast, I always rehydrate it, if I'm using liquid yeast, I make a starter 1-2.5 liters, depending on whether it's an ale, a lager, a high gravity beer. And for the helles, I did a 2 liter starter and two packets of rehydrated dry yeast. It's an excess of caution but I like very clean beers.
     
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  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Stuck using liquid, hence the low count. Much, much rather use dry, starter or not, because the count is nearly exponentially better. ;)
    Given that it's a Cream Ale using a Steam Lager yeast, I'll under pitch a little and it'll be fine. I'm just surprised in general that MFR's recommendations should vary from the real world by that much.
    This will be a hybrid type of fermentation so I want to treat it like a lager to keep it fairly clean and then ramp it up fairly quickly to avoid low attenuation. Usually, I'd use a single vial to do a 2-3 gallon batch of table beer to get to a good pitch for a 5.5 gallon batch of .050 and then pitch on that to get 10-11 gallons of a 1.060 or thereabouts. This one just needs to happen quickly and cleanly. :)
     
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  7. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Another good reason to use dry yeast if available for the style.
     
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  8. wobdee

    wobdee Member

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    I dont bother with starters anymore for my Lagers. I pitch 1 vial (Wyeast2124) per gal of wort and have activity within a few hours then on subsequent batches i reuse slurry at the pro 2.0 Lager rate on the yeast calculator for up to 12 generations before i buy new yeast so the overall cost of yeast is pretty small.

    I also ferment my Lagers pretty cold at 45-48° so more yeast is better at lower temps. You can probably get away with less yeast at higher temps but you may need a D rest later on. I've probably have done a 100 or so lagers with this routine and never had the need for a D rest, always very clean and crisp, I ramp my temps down instead of up.
     
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  9. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Manufacturer recommendations for pitch rates have traditionally been too low. I brew mostly lagers and often for competitions, I pitch at 2.0 per ml/degree plato for lagers. I always over pitch lagers with fresh healthy yeast and that means a starter. The advantage of a starter is you will have a very fresh and young yeast pitch that has a lot vitality. Just because you have a large number of yeast doesn't always mean a good fermentation, they need to be young to give you a great fermentation. The beers are very clean, no fruitiness so common in home brewed lagers.

    I just brewed an American lager with this method, pitched wlp840 at 44F and slowly brought the temp up to 46F and had a 18 hour lag. White Labs also says the optimum temperature is 50-55F, I like it better at 46-47F. So take the manufacturer's recommendations with a grain of salt, treat them as guidelines.
     
  10. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Given the time constraints of my brewing partner in this competition, we pitched as much yeast as we could get and we'll hope for the best. ;)
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to go wrong in that direction. Good luck with it!
     
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  13. Group W

    Group W Well-Known Member

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    It will be a winner fore sure.:cool:
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    According to recommendations on the site and on the vial of WLP810, 5 gallons of 1.048 wort would be fine for 1 vial. The calculator calls for 4 vials to avoid having to make a starter using those specs.
     
  15. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    They didn't have as much as I would have preferred...could only get 3 fresh vials. :)
    We ended up brewing a double and pitching one 5-gallon batch with 2 vials to get a reasonable chance at lower-temp fermentation and the other 5-gallon batch with 1 vial to run as an ale at mid-60s temp range.
    Could have just pitched all 3 on one 5-gallon batch and saved the other wort for a different purpose but this seemed like a good way to see what the yeast would do and have 2 beers as potential entries.
     
  16. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to hearing about the results!
     
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  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Should be an interesting beer. The conceit of the competition is that the ingredients are chosen in a Fantasy-League-style draft....Base malt, yeast, hops, specialty grains and you have to brew using exactly those ingredients. We chose good stuff to work with - Pilsner, Corn, Aromatic malt plus Cluster, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. We could have chosen from some various ale yeasts but the WLP810 yeast offered more versatility. We brewed a Cream Ale/Pilsner Blonde with a craft-beer kick of hops in the whirlpool. It'll be fun to see how it turns out, especially with the different pitch rates and different fermentation temp/schedules.
     
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  18. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    No- look at what they recommend for lagers and cold pitching.
     
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  19. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that^^^. :)
     
  20. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    What a kick ass idea! I hope you do well! Fill us in on the results and how the beers compare.
     
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