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Old 11-15-2009, 12:09 PM   #11
Bob
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No, no no! [brandishes rolled-up newspaper]

Bad brewers! BAD!

Let me give the positive thing first, before the thwapping commences.

The Evil Gnome is right: It's really painfully simple to harvest yeast. You've got everything you need in your kitchen already.

You need:

Several Mason jars or glass jam jars
A stainless-steel scoop or measuring cup
Sanitizer

After racking, use the sanitized scoop to scoop yeast out of the bucket into sanitized jars. Cover. Refrigerate.

Done.

The procedure is slightly different for carboys and conicals, respectively. But it's still easy, and lets you measure the appropriate amount of yeast to pitch.

Now for the thwapping.

Knocking out onto an old yeast cake is unbelievably lazy, just plain bad brewing practice. It will never cease to amaze me that the same brewers who will agonize over how much impact one ounce of grain will have on five gallons of beer will blithely ignore the impact of one of the four main beer ingredients. I can't believe otherwise responsible brewers still advocate such practices. You might as well just buy Cooper's kits and fortify them with dextrose.

In the first place, it's overpitching by massive amounts. Pitching yeast is not about cramming as much yeast as you can into a fermenter. It's about pitching the right volume of yeast to meet a variety of goals: Short lag-time, ester production, suppression of negative flavor precursors, etc. The only goal overpitching meets is reducing lag-time, and if you pitch the proper amount of yeast, lag-time still isn't an issue. Look up the effects of overpitching, and tell me if you want those effects in your beer. I don't. No respectable brewer does.

In the second place, you're putting fresh wort in a horrible, filthy vessel. It will also never cease to amaze me that brewers who will agonize over ingredients and other procedures will just dump their lovingly prepared wort into a disgusting wallow. It's all I can do not to ask, "If you're too lazy to take ten minutes to clean a freaking five-gallon fermenter, what other corners are you cutting?" Any brewer worth the name should default to this: If you can see a bit of soil on a piece of brewing equipment, it's not just that spot that's dirty - it's the whole damn piece. If there's a spot of soil on the outside of the fermenter, how do you know the inside is clean? You might have missed something. Clean it again. Now you're going to tell me it's perfectly acceptable to put fresh wort in something with rings of hardened krauesen and trub soil and other gunge? Nope. The sooner you realize that brewing is 80% janitorial and reconcile yourself to that fact, the better brewer you'll be.

It's unconscionable. It's terrible brewing practice. I wish I could meet the brewer who came up with this lazy, horrible shortcut and slap him in his face.

Grrrr...

Note: None of the above is intended to be personal. The vast majoity of brewers engage in this practice not knowing how awful it is. It's irresponsible to evangelize in favor of it, so I come down on it rather forcefully. Consider it an 'intervention'.

Bob

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Old 11-15-2009, 01:09 PM   #12
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<dodging the newspaper swing>

I love a good intervention! And Yes, I am lazy!

I really like the method you advocate: stainless measuring cup scoop full. How hard would it be for me to look up a proper pitch of slurry? Not very.

Here was my thinking: everything in the bucket is already in contact with my beer, so it should not introduce anything un beer like into the next process. And I must have been lucky, because it was successful. It is kind of that Belgian theory of brewing: house flavor. Unless all those cats in the brewhouse next to the open vats were sanitized...

I am reading about overpitching on your suggestion, but I do not find much that concerns me too much in that neighborhood. Wyeast cites the following:

Quote:
High pitch rates can lead to:

* Very low ester production
* Very fast fermentations
* Thin or lacking body/mouthfeel
* Autolysis (Yeasty flavors due to lysing of cells)
On this last run, I have not experienced the last three. Perhaps speed of ferment was controlled by cool temps? I use low 60s. I was doing all fall beers, so high mash temps may have covered the mouthfeel. The Octberfest was very estery (fruity, right?), but it was yeasty, for sure.

Do you have some better places to read about the overpitching? I would like to see what I can glean on that.

But consider me cured! I will now advocate using a cup to harvest (read dip into the old yeast cake) the amount of slurry needed for the next batch, which will be in a newly sanitized vessel.

Unless I get lazy.

But I won't talk about that!
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NQ3X View Post
No, no no! [brandishes rolled-up newspaper]

Bad brewers! BAD!

Let me give the positive thing first, before the thwapping commences.

The Evil Gnome is right: It's really painfully simple to harvest yeast. You've got everything you need in your kitchen already.

You need:

Several Mason jars or glass jam jars
A stainless-steel scoop or measuring cup
Sanitizer

After racking, use the sanitized scoop to scoop yeast out of the bucket into sanitized jars. Cover. Refrigerate.

Done.

The procedure is slightly different for carboys and conicals, respectively. But it's still easy, and lets you measure the appropriate amount of yeast to pitch.

Now for the thwapping.

Knocking out onto an old yeast cake is unbelievably lazy, just plain bad brewing practice. It will never cease to amaze me that the same brewers who will agonize over how much impact one ounce of grain will have on five gallons of beer will blithely ignore the impact of one of the four main beer ingredients. I can't believe otherwise responsible brewers still advocate such practices. You might as well just buy Cooper's kits and fortify them with dextrose.

In the first place, it's overpitching by massive amounts. Pitching yeast is not about cramming as much yeast as you can into a fermenter. It's about pitching the right volume of yeast to meet a variety of goals: Short lag-time, ester production, suppression of negative flavor precursors, etc. The only goal overpitching meets is reducing lag-time, and if you pitch the proper amount of yeast, lag-time still isn't an issue. Look up the effects of overpitching, and tell me if you want those effects in your beer. I don't. No respectable brewer does.

In the second place, you're putting fresh wort in a horrible, filthy vessel. It will also never cease to amaze me that brewers who will agonize over ingredients and other procedures will just dump their lovingly prepared wort into a disgusting wallow. It's all I can do not to ask, "If you're too lazy to take ten minutes to clean a freaking five-gallon fermenter, what other corners are you cutting?" Any brewer worth the name should default to this: If you can see a bit of soil on a piece of brewing equipment, it's not just that spot that's dirty - it's the whole damn piece. If there's a spot of soil on the outside of the fermenter, how do you know the inside is clean? You might have missed something. Clean it again. Now you're going to tell me it's perfectly acceptable to put fresh wort in something with rings of hardened krauesen and trub soil and other gunge? Nope. The sooner you realize that brewing is 80% janitorial and reconcile yourself to that fact, the better brewer you'll be.

It's unconscionable. It's terrible brewing practice. I wish I could meet the brewer who came up with this lazy, horrible shortcut and slap him in his face.

Grrrr...

Note: None of the above is intended to be personal. The vast majoity of brewers engage in this practice not knowing how awful it is. It's irresponsible to evangelize in favor of it, so I come down on it rather forcefully. Consider it an 'intervention'.

Bob
You know Bob, I was wondering about "pitching on the cake" for that very reason.

My first try at this will be a dunkelweiss, an 8 gallon batch in a 6 gallon and 5 gallon better bottle. I want to pitch a batch of hefe on top of one, and wash and save the other cake.

I read in another thread about doing a quick wash with distilled water to reuse yeast that or the next day. I will probably go with that method for one cake.
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:17 PM   #14
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Bob-

I also wanted to clarify: you are saying you harvest straight out of the cake without any washing process, correct? Cake to sanitized jar to refrigerator, done. right?

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Old 11-15-2009, 03:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefmike View Post
I really like the method you advocate: stainless measuring cup scoop full. How hard would it be for me to look up a proper pitch of slurry? Not very.
Nope. Don't really even need to think!

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

Plug in some numbers, get other numbers back. Simplicity itself.

Quote:
Here was my thinking: everything in the bucket is already in contact with my beer, so it should not introduce anything un beer like into the next process. And I must have been lucky, because it was successful. It is kind of that Belgian theory of brewing: house flavor. Unless all those cats in the brewhouse next to the open vats were sanitized...
Ah, but that's apples and oranges. The breweries you're talking about are breweries that depend on non-Saccaromyces inoculation to impart that "house flavor". In that instance, you really can't change a thing, because you don't really know where the funk is coming from. Apple.

In a modern brewery, house flavor instead tends to come from a combination of factors, mainly specific water chemistry (if you don't fool with it) and mutation of a "house" yeast strain over decades. Orange.

In neither example is the brewer exempt from cleaning his fermenters; even lambic breweries clean their barrels after use.

Simply put: Dirty vessel = fail. Clean vessel = win and kittens.

Kidding and drama aside, pitching the correct amount of yeast and keeping your brewery equipment scrupulously clean is simply good brewing practice. There's no reason not to do so except laziness, plain and simple.

Quote:
On this last run, I have not experienced the last three.
You may not have ended up with bad beer, but I submit that it was mediocre compared to using proper practices. One can make acceptable beer with mediocre and even downright bad practices, certainly. But I've always been under the impression that if a thing is worth doing at all, it's worth doing to the best of one's ability. Eschew mediocrity.

Quote:
Do you have some better places to read about the overpitching? I would like to see what I can glean on that.
To start, have a crack at http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php - it's a good overview of the proper technique.

In fact, I simplify that to an even simpler rule of thumb: 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato, regardless of ale or lager. It hasn't failed me yet.

Quote:
But consider me cured! I will now advocate using a cup to harvest (read dip into the old yeast cake) the amount of slurry needed for the next batch, which will be in a newly sanitized vessel.
Good egg.

Quote:
Unless I get lazy.

But I won't talk about that!
Cheeky monkey! [swings again]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpt_Kirks
My first try at this will be a dunkelweiss, an 8 gallon batch in a 6 gallon and 5 gallon better bottle. I want to pitch a batch of hefe on top of one, and wash and save the other cake.
Now there's a situation where you definitely don't want to overpitch. Remember that overpitching suppresses ester production. Weissbier is a style where yeast esters define the beer. A wheat beer without those banana/clove esters isn't Weissbier. Period.

Quote:
I read in another thread about doing a quick wash with distilled water to reuse yeast that or the next day. I will probably go with that method for one cake.
You really don't need to wash it for quick turnaround. You lose ~25% viability for every 7 days you store the slurry. You can use the Mr Malty calculator to account for that loss. If you're brewing the day after harvesting, don't worry about washing the slurry; just calculate how much you need and pitch that amount.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefmike
I also wanted to clarify: you are saying you harvest straight out of the cake without any washing process, correct? Cake to sanitized jar to refrigerator, done. right?
For quick turnaround, yes. Harvest considerably more than you think you'll need, so you have some extra slurry on hand at pitching time.

Washing is really only necessary if you want to store the slant long-term (more than a few weeks).

Cheers!

Bob
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Last edited by Bob; 11-15-2009 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-15-2009, 03:36 PM   #16
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I have yet to pitch on a cake of yeast for some of the reasons cited by NQ3X. Especially the desire to clean the fermenter before pouring my fresh wort in.

HOWEVER . . . if brewers are doing this and enjoying the beer they produce while saving a few bucks and some time - who cares?

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Old 11-15-2009, 05:52 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by samc View Post

HOWEVER . . . if brewers are doing this and enjoying the beer they produce while saving a few bucks and some time - who cares?

I think the point would be that I do not advocate the process. I did point out in my original answer that it is not the best practice.

I just choose to learn from an experienced brewer what I could... instead of being huffy that someone would dare criticize my process. It stands to reason that I could have been really wrong. I just have heard "pitch on a cake" and I applied it in my brewery. I assumed a lot. It does work. No denying that... but like Bob says... what if a few extra minutes gets me a little better?

I am lazy and cheap, I will admit that. But I am striving to keep a quality product stocked with my resources. Personally, I will likely always pitch on a cake from time to time (dodging the rolled up newspaper again! ). But I am more likely to take the 10 extra minutes and calc the proper pitch and use that amount. Current process is rack, dump new batch. New process is star san a bucket, rack, scoop out proper amount of yeast into new bucket, dump in new batch.

And really, that is why I am here... to learn from other folks.
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:12 PM   #18
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For one thing, that dirty fermenter just minutes ago held great beer. Don't tell me all of a sudden the fermenter is filthy.
Don't get me wrong, I agree that the trub isn't wanted in another brew. I don't practice dumping fresh beer into a used fermenter, but rather dump the yeast out and let it settle so I could decant the spent beer on top. I then pitch this into a new sanitized fermenter filled with fresh wort.
It's just not the end all end all of things that would all of a sudden cause you to make horrible beer.

Cheers

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Old 11-15-2009, 11:01 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by NQ3X View Post
I wish I could meet the brewer who came up with this lazy, horrible shortcut and slap him in his face.
I learned it from Charlie Papazian who claims the big breweries do it. Then he told me everything will be fine and to relax and have a homebrew.
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:12 AM   #20
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How long can the fermenter sit before you reuse the yeast cake?

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