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Old 05-12-2008, 04:19 AM   #1
Jaeger48
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Default Using a Yeast Cake

This is the first time I've used an existing yeast cake (saving time and money rather than buying a new vial of WLP-001 for each batch)

So I had a wonderful yeast cake left over from my last American Ale and decided to use it in this batch. The beer tasted fine as I racked out of the primary so I left about 1/2-1" of beer on the cake.

Today I brewed up an another American Ale with a very similar profile (less caramel malt, more victory malt), poured my cold water in, poured my cooled wort, and topped off to 5 gallons. I've seen in other posts that I should have rinsed the wort into a new primary. I left the old cake and detritus from the previous batch to avoid contamination. There was still a krausen ring in the primary but with the majority being hop resin I'm not too worried.

So- the question is... Will my beer be ok, (I know, RDWHAHB), and also- How many times do you re-use your yeast cake before pitching fresh yeast?

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Old 05-12-2008, 12:48 PM   #2
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You'll be fine. I have only ever re-used twice because I don't normally have too many things back to back using the same yeast. One pointer, you should rack rather than pour so as to not introduce more O2.

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Old 05-12-2008, 01:48 PM   #3
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I reuse my yeast cake all the time. It's no big deal. I usually try to have the second brew be a bit darker than the first though. For example, 2 weeks ago I brewed a Blonde Ale. When I racked out of my primary, I put an American Pale Ale right on top of it.

As far as how many times you reuse the cake...I personally have a 3 time rule. There is no real science there, just a personal thing. Although you can always pull out the yeast cake and wash it, and then there really is no limit as far as I know.

And by the way, I have never worried about siphoning or pouring at this stage of brewing. Cooled wort, prior to the start of fermentation is the ONLY time that O2 can safely be introduced to your wort. Besides, when I'm reusing a cake, I always make sure that I agitate the cake just to make sure that it is broken up and mixed well. I've never had any off flavors working this way.

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Old 05-12-2008, 02:43 PM   #4
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I've also done it many times with no problems. Three was my max, but I have a Belgian Blend cake from whitelabs currently with two beers on it, and I'm gonna push it as far as possible with various session recipes(belgian of course) for as long as I can.

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Old 05-12-2008, 03:00 PM   #5
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You should be fine. I've got a WLP007 cake that I just pitched my porter on, and I'm going to pitch an IPA on it next. I don't do it very often, but when I do I try to get 3 or 4 uses out of it. The only thing that I would suggest is that you save the hoppy beers for last because there will be flavors that carry over from batch to batch.

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Old 05-12-2008, 08:23 PM   #6
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I will go 3 batches (2 yeast cakes) without cleaning the fermenting vessel. I usually will pull some of the yeast off each time to re-use at a later time. You can go a LONG TIME without having to buy the same yeast strain if you plan correctly.

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Old 05-13-2008, 12:28 AM   #7
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Thank you all, it's good to hear the feedback. I'm a bit nervous to use the yeast that often just because a new vial is cheaper than realizing I have to dump a whole batch just because I wanted to save $7. I'll use the same yeast for my next 2 batches of English mild. It's starting to warm up and an English with more esters is sounding good.

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Old 05-13-2008, 01:00 AM   #8
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I'm going to put a pale ale on a cake of 1056 that I have an American wheat on Wednesday night. This will be my first time at this as well. I initially wanted to wash the yeast and bank some, but I don't have the jars right now to do that or a flask for making a starter from the washed yeast.

Would I be safe washing the yeast after the pale ale is done or should I wait until I do a fresh batch with 1056?

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Old 05-13-2008, 01:33 AM   #9
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I used a White Labs Pacific Ale cake for a mild stout after pitching it (the vial) to a pale ale for my first and second batch (respectively) in four years. This was the first time I've ever re-used yeast and everyone that has tried both beers liked the stout better. This suprised me as most of the people I hang out with are BMC drinkers.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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Old 05-13-2008, 05:48 AM   #10
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I'm debating building up the yeast from the bottom of a 1/2 gallon growler that I currently have in the closet or going with a new vial. The nice thing about the growler is that I can fill it with some cool wort and let it ferment up as a starter.

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