pitching rate and volume of yeast

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by mrskittle, Oct 11, 2020.

  1. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    This is one topic that has been much too mysterious to me since starting to brew 10 months ago. I understand that different commercial packages have estimated numbers of yeast cells and that you can closely estimate how a starter increases that number. I've also come to find that buying a new yeast for every batch gets expensive. To that end, I've been either harvesting yeast form my favorite commercial brew or making a stepped started from a commercial packet and splitting it and keeping enough for my next batch.

    Because I'm not dealing with commercial packets, I'm really at a loss at how to estimate how many billions of cells I'm actually pitching. When I have a little yeast cake at the bottom of a pint jar, how in the world do figure out how to get to the right pitching rate?
     
  2. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    The good thing is that yeast as an ingredient does not need to be as precise as other ingredients. Given that, you generally don’t want to under pitch.

    Is the amount of slurry around the same as if you had made a successful starter? If so, you are probably good to go. You can always add a bit of sterile wort to the yeast and check the viability prior to pitching.
     
  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Mr. Malty calculator is very useful in understanding yeast count in slurry. By changing the values for density and age you can see how different factors affect dell count.
    http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html
     
  4. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I don't even try. I just grab a bunch and eyeball it.
     
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  5. Josh Hughes

    Josh Hughes Well-Known Member

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    The recipe editor has a good calculator for it. I’ve had no yeast related issues using it for pitching slurry
     
  6. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    Here's a crude picture of the amount of yeast I start with. It's in a pint jar. I'd say it's pretty close to the amount that comes in a packet. I made a 1 L starter and it was very active after about 12 hours. I threw the starter in the fridge to settle out the yeast in order to pitch it about 18 hours after making the starter. I'll attach a pic of the yeast cake in the starter when it's ready.
     

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  7. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    This is essentially the approach I've been taking but my last batch, which is still fermenter, has some awful boozy/alcohol smell and since the brew day seemed to go fine, I was wondering if pitching too much yeast could lead to such off-odors and tastes. The IPA in question was supposed to be kegged by now but I'm just letting it sit in the fermenter. The odor has diminished slightly over time so I'm hoping it will continue...
     
  8. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    It would be difficult to pitch to much yeast at our levels. Are we talking 5g or so batches? Cause I would pitch that much in one without hesitation, I'd also pitch twice that much. How is your temperature control? I find I have the worst issue with boozy type flavours when I let it get to hot to fast.
     
  9. mrskittle

    mrskittle Member

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    We are talking 5 gallon batches.

    As far as temp control, I have a very precise method of either on the basement floor or 3 ft off the floor. Temps hovered around 63F for the entire time. I did have a batch this summer that got too warm and resulted in the same issue, but this batch definitely didn't get too hot. However it did actively bubble for probably close to a week. Much longer than usual. That's why I'm fishing for answers in places like the yeast.
     
  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Brewing is more art than science so it's hard to say with certainty why anything specifically happened. I've reused a yeast for easily 8 generations before without side effect so I doubt it will be a yeast problem unless you're really hard on it.
     
  11. CausticWolf

    CausticWolf Member

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    So, I'm gonna go completely off from everyone here, and say, I don't do a yeast starter, I don't worry about pitch rate, and I've asked quite a few brewers that I know, that UNLESS YOU ARE GOING FOR COMMERCIAL GRADE, don't stress about pitch rates.

    For me, I use pretty much only safale 05 and 04, they're very resilient and easy to use.

    I brew for consumption, craft beer costs in Australia can be well over 100 dollars a case from a Commercial Brewer, so I'm looking for turn around, with great taste as well. Lucky for me, IPA is literally the easiest beer to make, and is also my favorite.

    If you're looking to PERFECT a beer, by all means, go for broke, and get your math right. But if you're in my camp, which is the camp of "All beer is pretty much delicious regardless, is this going to be a MAJOR factor in taste?" Than no, I wouldn't worry about pitch rate

    For me, I worry about having very healthy wort, that hits AT LEAST 70% efficiency, making sure my recipe has enough Diastolic Power, and aerating THE SHIT out of it when I pitch. My yeast start up times are ALWAYS less than 8 hours now, and the yeast cakes are glorious!

    Pitch rate keeps yeast competitive, that's where it affects taste.
     
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  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you have your method figured out. I agree that most of the absolutes in homebrewing aren't but since we're posting on the beginner's forum, I'll throw my accumulated knowledge, none of it backed up by science, out there for consideration:

    1. Ales: One packet/tube/smack pack for worts under 1.060. No oxygenation/aeration if dried yeast used. If over 1.060, use two packets of dried yeast or spin up a starter. If over 1.080, make a small batch of low-IBU beer and use the yeast cake. If you're recycling yeast, eyeball it, a half-cup of slurry should work for low gravity beers, a cup for higher gravity beers and two cups for the really big ones.

    2. Lagers: Always use at least two packets/vials/smack packs. If over 1.060, use three. If you're going for a tactical nuclear lager, do the small beer procedure listed above. Double the amounts of slurry.

    There are no absolutes and I've read multiple lines of guidance when it comes to yeast pitch rate. I'm not imagining a lot of beginners saving yeast, I don't, so I'll simply say use my guidelines to get started and modify them to your system and taste once you have a few brews under your belt.
     
  13. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    To be that guy, I had 2 packs of S-23 in my fridge with a best before date of 2017. Tossed em both in a 1.052 batch at 10C and while it took around 36 hours to start they're chugging away happily in my fridge right now.
     
  14. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Yup, 2 packs (A lot of yeast) and 1.052 (not a super high gravity) even a few years old, works. Not ideal - I would ask beginners to shy away from old yeast - but yeast is hardy stuff, and expiration dates are more for legal reasons than viability.
     
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  15. CausticWolf

    CausticWolf Member

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    That's a very good point. You want a Lager to be crystal clear, so having a good pitch rate would be important. I've never made a lager, so I'm not sure of the flocculation either for Lager yeasts.

    That being said, if I do a Diacetyl rest at a warm temp, it cleans up really well for my IPA's

    I suppose my underlying point, is that a lot of these guys stress when they don't need to. You're not a Commercial Brewery, you're not in a competition, HAVE FUN! :) Beer was found on accident!
     
  16. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    No argument with that! In fact, I'm thinking of writing an article on beer lore and the difference between homebrewing and commercial brewing. Basic starting point is most of our knowledge came from people researching large breweries where an extra half-percent extract equates to millions of dollars, no one is paying anyone to research at homebrew scale and some of the things we've taken as truth just aren't. The dogma is true but may not be applicable at our scale.
     
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  17. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Yeah the longer I've been doing this the more I notice what amounts to Cargo Cultism around a lot of our brewing practices. Being willing to risk a 5 gallon dumper to advance brewing science is the new gentleperson scientist!
     
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  18. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    But one thing I have noticed, the absolutists don't tend to stay around long...
     
  19. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Not here at least.
     
  20. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Absolutely!

    ;-)
     

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