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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Pro brewery pitch rates vs. homebrew "overpitching"?
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:26 AM   #11
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Well, I'm of the impression that keeping a beer around for 5 weeks before you package it is completely unnecessary. Lots of people have started thinking that you need to condition your beer for these great lengths of time for it to be any good. I think these people aren't fermenting their beers correctly (which goes back to the topic of this thread) in the first place.

There's this huge thought that beers are "green" post-fermentation - but I'm of the camp that believes this "greenness" shouldn't occur in the first place. I'm not saying all my beers turn out absolutely spectacular, but I take great strides to pitch the correct amount of healthy yeast and ferment on the cooler side. Nine times out of ten, my fermentations are complete within 4-7 days. I don't taste diacetyl or acetaldehyde, even when using English strains. There's nothing wrong here, so I see no point in "conditioning." Many English strains (or derivations thereof) drop clear extremely quick (002/1968, 007/1098, 028/1728) and can be kegged/bottled after about a week. Yes, other yeast strains will take longer to drop out of solution.

Now I can't speak with much experience on bottle conditioning as the last time I did that was over 3 years ago, but Sierra Nevada has SN Pale Ale fully carbed in 7 days. Why then, is there this big issue or prevalence that homebrew bottle conditioning takes so long?

And I've yet to see any definitive evidence that breweries (Belgian or otherwise) underpitch to get these esters. I have two Dubbels (1.070) chugging along right now that both got 3 litres of starter yeast (per Mr. Malty) - I sampled yesterday and I must say that both (1762 and 3787) have significant esters present, as per style. Again, these yeasts have evolved to produce these characteristics, and I'd rather pitch a healthy dose to ensure complete fermentation than to underpitch, drive yeast stress up (possibly producing other off flavors) and risk under-attenuation.

All just my $0.02, of course.

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Old 11-20-2011, 06:06 AM   #12
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Anyone here use BeerSmith and checked the suggested start size (w/stir plate) vs. MrMalty? MrMalty suggests a larger start size. There is a thread about this on the BeerSmith site.

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Old 11-20-2011, 06:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PseudoChef
Well, I'm of the impression that keeping a beer around for 5 weeks before you package it is completely unnecessary. Lots of people have started thinking that you need to condition your beer for these great lengths of time for it to be any good. I think these people aren't fermenting their beers correctly (which goes back to the topic of this thread) in the first place.

There's this huge thought that beers are "green" post-fermentation - but I'm of the camp that believes this "greenness" shouldn't occur in the first place. I'm not saying all my beers turn out absolutely spectacular, but I take great strides to pitch the correct amount of healthy yeast and ferment on the cooler side. Nine times out of ten, my fermentations are complete within 4-7 days. I don't taste diacetyl or acetaldehyde, even when using English strains. There's nothing wrong here, so I see no point in "conditioning." Many English strains (or derivations thereof) drop clear extremely quick (002/1968, 007/1098, 028/1728) and can be kegged/bottled after about a week. Yes, other yeast strains will take longer to drop out of solution.

Now I can't speak with much experience on bottle conditioning as the last time I did that was over 3 years ago, but Sierra Nevada has SN Pale Ale fully carbed in 7 days. Why then, is there this big issue or prevalence that homebrew bottle conditioning takes so long?

And I've yet to see any definitive evidence that breweries (Belgian or otherwise) underpitch to get these esters. I have two Dubbels (1.070) chugging along right now that both got 3 litres of starter yeast (per Mr. Malty) - I sampled yesterday and I must say that both (1762 and 3787) have significant esters present, as per style. Again, these yeasts have evolved to produce these characteristics, and I'd rather pitch a healthy dose to ensure complete fermentation than to underpitch, drive yeast stress up (possibly producing other off flavors) and risk under-attenuation.

All just my $0.02, of course.
If agree that home brew doesn't "need" this time but I feel that a better quality product can be found in a beer that has been left to age for a while. Can you make changes or adjustments to make a younger beer similar to one that has aged... Sure. Either way can make good beer. But, there is a reason master brewers hold vertical tastings. Often these beers are intended to be aged. Bottom line great beer can be made quickly or slowly, it completely depends on the brewers intension. I'd argue certain beers (big beers) need time to meld and mellow...
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:51 AM   #14
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Underpitching won't result in underattenuation unless you're doing it to an absurd degree. It might be a bit slower, sure, but terminal gravity should be pretty much the same.

I also take pitching rates seriously, and disagree with the huge amount of people who make the SAME 1.5L (or whatever size) starters for almost all their beers, regardless of viability and the beer's OG.

But still, I see no reason to ignore the ability to manipulate the final product with different pitching rates (or oxygenation, which I also take very seriously). It's just another tool in the brewer's toolbox. My saison is just so much better when underpitching, for example. And I'll even overpitch for certain beers as well.

Keep in mind that commercial brewers are restricted by the need to make money. And low turnover loses money. In most cases, commercial breweries will sacrifice a *bit* of quality in order to get it out the door faster - be it due to overpitching, lack of conditioining, or something else. Saison Dupont, for instance, is fermented at 95°, not because it results in the best beer, but because it shortens fermentation time.

As homebrewers, most of us have the ability to let our beer have as much time as it needs to ferment and condition. It takes a bit more space, but since I already have the space available, and don't put myself in a position where I have nothing to drink, I'd rather give it any extra time it needs. A brewery could not justify a 10% boost in quality (subjective, I know) for a 50% increase in grain-to-glass time, but I personally have no problem doing it. I want to brew the absolute best stuff I possibly can.

Underpitching can, admittedly, affect yeast health so that it doesn't perform as well in future generations. I'm okay with that, and people have to decide if they are too. The beers I underpitch aren't exactly using house yeasts anyways, and if it costs me $6-7 extra (for a new vial each time) to make a better beer, it's well worth it to me. Although if I plan to use the same yeast again reasonably soon, I'll often make a starter with plenty of extra yeast and set that extra aside for starters for future brews, rather than using the yeast from the beer.

Commercial brewers have many advantages over us when it comes to brewing better be. It just seems silly to give up the few advantages that homebrewers *definitely* have.

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Old 11-20-2011, 07:55 AM   #15
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yinzer2 View Post
Anyone here use BeerSmith and checked the suggested start size (w/stir plate) vs. MrMalty? MrMalty suggests a larger start size.
Jamil is absolutely obsessed with pitching tons of yeast. I have sometimes felt that Mr Malty's recommended pitching rates are somewhat excessive. I know that Jamil has probably forgotten more about brewing than I will ever know, but I have made many great beers with substantially lower pitching rates than Mr Malty suggests. Never really had any issues with under-attenuation, off flavors, etc. My beers have gotten consistently good scores in competitions, never been marked down for excessive fermentation by-products or anything. I mainly make starters to get the yeast active before pitching, not because I feel I need significantly more volume of yeast. I just figure, if it ain't broke.......well you know. But I also don't reuse a lot of yeast, and when I do it's usually only for 1 or 2 generations ( 6$ for a new WL vial is well worth it for me compared to the time and effort it takes me to wash and reuse yeast without having a conical). Someone who consistently uses and reuses the same strains for multiple generations may be a bit more concerned about higher pitching rates to avoid yeast stress.
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamWiz
I have made many great beers with substantially lower pitching rates than Mr Malty suggests. Never really had any issues with under-attenuation, off flavors, etc.
You can still make great beers by pitching less than MrMalty suggests, not even Jamil says you won't. The idea is to make them even greater (in addition to maximizing yeast health.) I noticed an improvement when I started using his those pitching rates as my baseline. They were really good to begin with, and they got even better... it's not as simple as just being either good or not good. Granted, the improvement wasn't nearly as drastic as what I experienced when I started controlling temperatures, but it was enough for me, and other people, to take notice.

And really, some beergas even improve from underpitching anyways. That's why I said I use Mr. Malty as my "baseline"... I increase or decrease the cell count by a given percentage, depending on what beer I'm brewing.
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:07 PM   #18
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My guess is that I'm misinterpreting something along the way, but I've been thinking about this a lot since I recently started rinsing/re-using yeast consistently.

Seems like part of the consensus explanation for the speed of pro brewery fermentation is "pitching rates" and this is always stated in such a way that (perhaps erroneously) I infer that their pitch rates are much higher than homebrewers'.

OTOH, I've read any number of warnings that OVERpitching yeast in one's homebrew is just as likely to produce bad results as UNDERpitching.

These two things don't seem to add up. Of course there are other factors (yeast health/viability being tops, I think), but can anyone shed some light on this apparent disparity?

Cheers!
In short the misgivings and worries about overpitching yeast when homebrewing are totally overblown if not complete BS. It is next to impossible for the typical homebrewing to overpitch yeast, at least to the point where any adverse problems might be expected.
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by AdamWiz View Post
Jamil is absolutely obsessed with pitching tons of yeast. I have sometimes felt that Mr Malty's recommended pitching rates are somewhat excessive.
<snip..>
I think that he and everyone else is agreed on "For an ale, you want to pitch around 0.75 million cells of viable yeast (0.75 million for an ale, 1.5 million for a lager), for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato.". I'm keying in on his growth factor for the stir plate.

sorry, i should of posted this link at the get go.

http://www.beersmith.com/forum/index.php?topic=5895.0
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:42 PM   #20
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In short the misgivings and worries about overpitching yeast when homebrewing are totally overblown if not complete BS. It is next to impossible for the typical homebrewing to overpitch yeast, at least to the point where any adverse problems might be expected.
I really don't think it would be easy to overpitch in a homebrew setting. You'd have to put a 1.040 beer on a yeast cake I'd think to come close to gross overpitching. Even then, I doubt you'd get many adverse effects; unlike underpitching one vial of yeast in a 1.080 beer in which I'd expect to see some effects of stressed yeast.

It's true that good beer can be made with less than perfect techiques. But I would submit that great beer can not be made with underpitching and temperature control.

My English beers are usually 7-10 days in the fermenter. 3-4 days to ferment, and then a couple of days to rest. That's assuming a flocculant yeast strain and a proper yeast pitch. My other beers, most often APAs, IPAs, and ambers, are in the fermenter about 10 days before dryhopped. They are typically packaged on day 13-20 depending on my work/home schedule.

Leaving the beers in the fermenter won't harm them, and I"m glad to see that many people are discarding the old-timer's advice of getting the beer off of the yeast cake right away. But going the other extreme and saying you need 4 weeks in the fermenter and even longer in the bottle isn't what I'd like to see either.

It's true that a poorly made beer may improve with some extra time. But a well-made relatively simple beer doesn't need it.
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