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Old 05-05-2011, 02:46 PM   #1
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Default Yet another long primary vs. secondary question: Underpitching?

Here is where I make Revvy's head explode.

Okay, I mostly just want to hear from proponents of very long (>4 weeks) primaries here, because the point is moot otherwise -- I have already read all the pros and cons from both sides and I realize I have to make my own decision.

I happened to be perusing one of the endless LP vs. secondary threads, and I saw one of the LP proponents say something to the effect of "as long as your yeast is healthy and your pitching rate is high enough..."

My question is, is the reason for that caveat more because racking onto another yeast cake, etc., can restart a stuck fermentation -- or is there a concern even among VLP proponents that yeast that has been stressed due to underpitching could be more prone to autolysis?

Context: I have a high gravity Grand Cru with Wyeast 3394 that I now believe I significantly underpitched, and to add to that I didn't realize you are supposed to leave a lot of headspace with top-cropping yeasts, so a lot of the yeast went spewing out my blowoff hose on the first day of fermentation. I had planned to leave it in the primary for 6-8 weeks, then bottle age it. The comment I read in that other thread now makes me wonder if even LP proponents would be concerned that my screwups with the yeast might make autolysis more of a significant danger.

Of course, I don't know yet if I will get a stuck fermentation anyway, so this all might be a moot point... It's been really active for the past four days, so that seems like a good sign, but then again there's a lot of fermentable sugars in there for the yeasties to work on.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:00 PM   #2
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I would wait and see, it is too early to tell. If you are worried about autolysis, just transfer to secondary once fermentation is complete.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
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Yeah, I know it's too early to tell. My question was sort of whether VLP proponents like Revvy et al. would be worried about autolysis in this case. I'd sort of rather not secondary it for a number of different reasons that aren't relevant to this thread. But if even VLP proponents would be concerned about stressed yeast from underpitching, then I'll probably do 3 weeks primary and 3-5 weeks secondary or something (obviously depending on how long the initial fermentation lasts and whether it gets close to my target FG, of course)

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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i wouldnt worry about autolysis. at this point, i would personally just leave it alone and keep it in the a long primary. deal with possibly secondarying when the time comes but it seems a non-issue to me.

how do you like the crotchester brewscene?

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:06 PM   #5
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Cool, pwndabear, that's sort of what I wanted to hear.

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Originally Posted by pwndabear View Post
how do you like the crotchester brewscene?
Well, I only know two other Rochester homebrewers, and one of them just moved to Boston, so I suppose I can't really say As far as beer in general though, we are lucky to have some great places around here though... Custom Brewcrafters, Tap and Mallet... and of course MacGregors, even though the owners make, eh, some "questionable" decisions from time to time, shall we say.

And I live literally <5 minutes from the Winton Place BotW, so that's awesome. I saw in some other thread somebody saying their LHBS was a 75 minute drive. Ouch. For me, on the other hand, the first time I went to bottle, an hour beforehand I said, "You know, I think a bottle washer would really be worth it," and I had one in my hands in 15 minutes.
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:28 PM   #6
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too bad BotW is mostly horrible when it comes to homebrewing stuff--supply as well as customer service. The only way i go there not is to get actual beer. if i need anything last minute i always go to sunset, otherwise i get all my stuff online now.

i think i got fed up when i went to BotW once and they were out of pale LME. I asked a guy if they had any in the back and he walked over to the homebrew cooler and started rifling through yeast packets...

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:29 PM   #7
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Well, for autolysis to occur something has to weaken the yeast cell - whether that's time, pressure, temperature swings, or a lousy bunch of yeast to begin with. I think the idea the poster you paraphrased was getting at is that you could stress the yeast by underpitching, which could increase the risk of the cells rupturing because they will be weakened after over-exerting themselves in the high gravity environment. In your case, I would do frequest taste tests to make sure you aren't picking up any of the autolysis flavors in your samples. At the first hint of a meaty or rubbery taste, I would get it off the cake ASAP. I would be surprised, however, if you would pick up those flavors in just 6-8 weeks, but I've never gone above a month so I can't claim to have much authority for that statement.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:31 PM   #8
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Is there a well-established "threshold" for "very long primary"? If so, is it four weeks?

Started a Belgian Dubbel three weeks ago this Sat that is looking like it will get 4 weeks in the primary. Guess I'll go straight to bottling with no secondary. Give the yeast (Wyeast 3739) a quick wash then re-pitch into my Belgian Strong Golden Ale.

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Old 05-05-2011, 03:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwndabear View Post
i think i got fed up when i went to BotW once and they were out of pale LME. I asked a guy if they had any in the back and he walked over to the homebrew cooler and started rifling through yeast packets...
Heh, I was there the other day, and I said I needed a blowoff hose, and the employee looked at me like I was speaking another language They didn't have wide enough hose anyway, I just want to Home Depot. I also noticed they did seem to be a bit out of stock on a lot of stuff a lot of the time, but I figured that was just bad luck on my part... Guess not.

Sunset is that hydroponics and homebrew place out by Eastview mall, right? They are that much better? Maybe worth the drive then, unless I am just picking up something quick...
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Is there a well-established "threshold" for "very long primary"? If so, is it four weeks?
I was sort of picking that arbitrarily, because it seems universally agreed upon by the most vocal proponents of both long primaries and secondaries that 3-4 weeks in primary will not hurt your beer. A few people have claimed they have had bad results longer than that, and some will claim that it's "better" to do a 1-2-3 or something like that, but I've never seen anyone say that your beer will develop meaty/rubbery flavors after only 3-4 weeks in primary. So that's sort of why I arbitrarily chose that as a threshold. But damned if I know
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