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Old 03-03-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
antony
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Default yeast cake--how many times can you pitch on the same one?

Just out of curiosity, how many times have you pitched on the same yeast cake? About to pull my maibock off the cake for secondary/lagering & I was going to give a steam beer a try with the cake. Got me to thinking about how many times I could do this without any repercussions. Is once enough? two conceivable?

Curious about experiences others may have had. Thanks for your time!


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Old 03-03-2013, 12:14 PM   #2
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Never pitched directly on a yeast cake as I always clean my gear when I'm finished -- I do save and reuse yeast though. Never had a problem after I made a starter this way.

Too bad you are 3 hours from me!


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Old 03-03-2013, 12:18 PM   #3
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I generally reuse the same cake 4 or 5 times before noticing any ill effects. At that point I would wash the yeast, split the washed yeast across 2 different buckets and get another 2 or 3 from each. Then I would usually ditch the old yeast and start with a new packet next time. No reason you couldn't reuse indefinitely as long as you wash it every so often and it is still producing good beer.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:19 PM   #4
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The whole cake is a serious over-pitch. It can be done but you should have a blow-off tube attached, fermentation will go crazy. You might notice some off flavors, especially if you are moving to a different style.

I usually scoop out about 16oz of the trub with a sanitized jar, then wash it once. For an average beer you only need around 100ml of yeast.

Yeast washing: http://billybrew.com/yeast-washing
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:22 PM   #5
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I usually do about three or four times on a yeast cake. More than that and I will split it up because it just gets to be too much volume in the bottom of the carboy and robs me of precious beer.

Many people will talk about pitching on a yeast cake being WAY over pitching. I've never had any repercussions or off flavours from that scenario. I like the VERY short lag time and the rapid fermentation from pitching on a yeast cake. Totally worth it for me.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antony View Post
Just out of curiosity, how many times have you pitched on the same yeast cake? About to pull my maibock off the cake for secondary/lagering & I was going to give a steam beer a try with the cake. Got me to thinking about how many times I could do this without any repercussions. Is once enough? two conceivable?

Curious about experiences others may have had. Thanks for your time!

You opened it up to a serious argument between those who follow standard industry pitching rates, and those who use a more RDWHAHB approach.

Here's the deal-

Theoretically you can keep repitching over and over and make beer as long as your sanitation is good. But, eventually you will have too much bacterial load and too many dead or dying yeast cells that will cause off flavors and poor fermentation.

Realistically, if you are happy with the fermentation prior, you should be ok to throw some more wort on top of it. I would think if you were brewing every week or two, you could probably run it out 4-5 times without serious problems. As long as you are happy with those results, then I would say go for it.

Others will say that you are overpitching. This is true and it WILL change the flavor of the beer. Whether that change is still within the range of what is acceptable to you, that is for you to decide.

I tend to use standard pitching rates myself. There are times I will pitch onto a yeast cake though. When making a barleywine, I will brew a blonde ale or pale ale. Dopplebock onto a helles cake, etc...
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:04 PM   #7
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I just pitched a batch of stout on the cake from a ESB batch a couple days ago. I first removed about 2/3 of the old cake using a sanitized spoon since the stout OG was 1.057.

I also rigged it up straightaway with a blow-off tube just in case.
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:41 PM   #8
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I've pitched on a cake once before w/a blow-off tube & fermentation was nuts. I was thinking I could have a house blonde always in a bucket if I just kept pitching on the cake. I've washed yeast (got a mini fridge of it that I should really use soon) & just tried my hand at harvesting from a bottle (wish me luck).

Thanks for all the replies!


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