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Old 11-13-2010, 07:30 PM   #1
andrew300
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Default Yeast in suspension and yeast cake

I have been trying to figure out why people say the beer has to be on the yeast cake for them to do there job. Things like you transferred to early or it did not have time to condition properly. When the yeast fall out of suspension, arent they not active anymore? When you transfer to a keg or secondary and leave it at room temperature, the yeast are still working. I can see if you filter, use finings, or cold temperature that this would not be the case, but I have wondered if the yeast cake on the bottom is still active. Please discuss.

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Old 11-13-2010, 07:37 PM   #2
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.... Please discuss.
Actually. This is the MOST discussed topics on here, already. There are literally THOUSANDS of threads discussing, debating, arguing, and explaining. There's nothing we can discuss that will be any different than has already been discussed on here.

My suggestion, rather than re-invent the wheel is to read what's on here already.

May I suggest that you read this thread which pretty much is the most up to date discussion of the topic on here.

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In.

I don't want to come off rude...but really there's no need to beat this already dead horse any more. Just really spend some time reading that thread, and you will find all you need, to make up your own mind about this topic. Read it in it's entirity and you'll know everything you need to and more.

My real suggestion is to stop thinking about it or reading about it, just try each way on your next two batches of beer, Secondary one, primary another for a month. And come to your own conclusions.

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Old 11-13-2010, 08:13 PM   #3
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My question wasn't about to secondary or not. I have read every one of those threads and read how to brew and the new yeast book numerous times. I was just trying to figure out if the yeast at the bottom have anything to do with the yeast in suspension in the beer. My thought is if I transfer it to a keg and store it in the closet for conditioning, I could have more room in my freezer to do fermentations. Instead of having to wait 4 weeks on the primary yeast cake. Not anything to do about secondaries as I don't even own one and have no intention to.

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Old 11-13-2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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My question wasn't about to secondary or not. I have read every one of those threads and read how to brew and the new yeast book numerous times. I was just trying to figure out if the yeast at the bottom have anything to do with the yeast in suspension in the beer. My thought is if I transfer it to a keg and store it in the closet for conditioning, I could have more room in my freezer to do fermentations. Instead of having to wait 4 weeks on the primary yeast cake. Not anything to do about secondaries as I don't even own one and have no intention to.
But what you asked about yeast contact IS in there. That's the whole point of the discussion. Maximum or minimum amount of yeast contact.
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Old 11-13-2010, 08:26 PM   #5
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Am I wrong to say that the yeast that are in suspension are the ones that are reducing and creating compounds? Not the ones that have flocculated and are inactive? So if I understand correctly, there should be the same amount of yeast contact on the yeast cake versus not? I understand if you rouse or change the temperature of the beer on the yeast cake that they could go back into suspension.

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Old 11-13-2010, 09:01 PM   #6
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Am I wrong to say that the yeast that are in suspension are the ones that are reducing and creating compounds? Not the ones that have flocculated and are inactive? So if I understand correctly, there should be the same amount of yeast contact on the yeast cake versus not? I understand if you rouse or change the temperature of the beer on the yeast cake that they could go back into suspension.
I agree with your theory- that it's the active yeast that do most of the "work" and not the flocculated yeast at the bottom. However, I think it would vary from strain to strain. Some strains are notorious for being early flocculators, and will flocculate out before they are finished fermenting. Rousing the yeast helps, but those yeast are not dormant, just flocculated early. Some yeast strains are pretty non-flocculating and I am guessing that those are the ones that can be racked earlier without detrimental effect.

Keep in mind one thing, though. That once fermentable sugars are gone, the yeast go back and "clean up" some of their own by-products. Like diacetyl- they actually produce diacetyl early in fermentation, and then go back and digest it after the fermentable sugars are gone. In order for that to be fully effective, you need to have a) the fermentable sugars gone (by the yeast) and b) enough active yeast to do the job. By racking early, you could set back that process, because even if if there are still yeast in suspension you might get the "laziest", least flocculant yeast.

I haven't read any research on this, so it would be awesome if there were some studies about this. All I know is anecdotal evidence, that my beers are clearer and cleaner tasting after a long primary.
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:12 PM   #7
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I don't want to come off rude...

Secondary one, primary another for a month. And come to your own conclusions.
? Rev, you got so lost in your reply you forgot his question.

Anyhoo, to the point, it seems that the flavor of the beer can change dramatically over time when left on the yeast. Not only are many of the "off" flavors fixed, but the overall quality of the beer improves.

I agree, this seems odd, since the yeast seems to fall hard, inactive, after a week of active fermentation. I can't resolve this obvious contradiction except to say to trust the yeast, it'll get the job done.
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:25 PM   #8
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Yeah it would be interesting to know what type of impact, if any that you would get from staying on the yeast cake versus transferring and keeping the temperature the same for conditioning. I would think it is the ones in suspension that are doing most of the clean up. If this were the case, I could transfer the beer to the numerous amount of kegs I have and free up my primary fermenter, which I only have 1 of. I guess this would act as a secondary, but it could go straight to the kegerator after conditioning instead of being exposed to more oxygen in another transfer like a secondary carboy would.

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Old 11-13-2010, 09:27 PM   #9
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Also, am I correct in saying that once I add finings like gelatin, that the beer will no longer improve over time because the yeast are not in suspension?

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Old 11-13-2010, 09:33 PM   #10
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My guess would be that the yeast cake is apart of things during the beginning of fermentation, kinda being in equilibrium with the suspended yeast during the respiration and beginning fermentation stages. So, I don't think you could transfer a beer every day (off the cake) to a diff. container during fermentation and expect to get full attenuation. Purely my opinion (plus it would at lot of work to do that!)

I personally think that once fermentation is complete (which can take a wide range of days depending on many factors, temp., yeast strain, OG, etc.) then the yeast that is still in suspension is capable of cleaning up what the flocculated yeast has produced (the by-products).

Leaving the beer in the primary longer is more of a safety net approach. A "lets just leave it alone" approach. Siphoning off the yeast cake post-fermentation to a secondary/keg will bring a ton of yeast with it (this is why you can bottle condition beers). That suspended yeast is plenty capable of cleaning up the beer.

There, I discussed.

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