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Old 11-11-2008, 01:33 AM   #1
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Default Reusing lager yeast cake

I wanted to brew a big doppelbock, so I decided to brew a Helles as a starter & pitch onto the yeast cake. I used a 1 gallon starter with the Helles, using just the slurry.
When I brewed the Helles, I put all the break into the fermenter, which I have since learned isn't so great for lagers.

1 - Should I go ahead & pitch onto the yeast cake?

2 - If not, and I wash the yeast, do I need to make a starter with the washed yeast, or just pitch the slurry? Here I'm imagining that I would follow the steps in the yeast washing wiki, except instead of pouring into four pint jars, just pour into a single 2 qt jar, let that settle out, then pitch the slurry.


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Old 11-11-2008, 07:16 PM   #2
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Are you pitching onto the yeast cake from the primary or secondary? If it's from the secondary, then hopefully you've gotten rid of most of the trub in siphoning process, so it shouldn't be a problem to pitch right on the yeast cake. If it's the cake from the primary, then I'm not sure, because you've got all the trub plus all the dead yeast at the bottom. I'm not sure how that would affect your fermentation.


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Old 11-11-2008, 07:35 PM   #3
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I hadn't even though about racking onto the secondary cake.
I was planning on racking onto the primary cake, which seems to be a fairly common practice here, but is new to me.

Reason: pitching -> racking
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:46 PM   #4
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Either one should work, but, like I said, I'm not sure how all the trub from your last batch will affect the fermentation. I like to pitch onto the secondary yeast cake simply because there is less junk in it (trub, hop particles, dead-autolyzed yeast etc), but I know it will work to pitch it onto the primary cake. The procedure is just as straightforward as it sounds.
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:49 PM   #5
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no worries at all. the yeast will eat up all those dead yeast cells and eat up all the oxygen. you don't have to worry about autolysis, either.

it's actually better to use the primary. the yeast in secondary have been stressed, they're not near as healthy, plus there are much fewer of them.
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:51 PM   #6
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did not know that, very nice to know
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:51 PM   #7
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no worries at all. the yeast will eat up all those dead yeast cells and eat up all the oxygen. you don't have to worry about autolysis, either.

it's actually better to use the primary. the yeast in secondary have been stressed, they're not near as healthy, plus there are much fewer of them.
I agree- I would never use the yeast from the secondary, especially in a lager. Sure, it looks "cleaner", but it's the least flocculant and most stressed of the yeast. I'd use the primary- either pitch on the cake, or wash it and make a starter. (I'd just pitch on the cake in this case). I usually put all the break in the fermenter, and have not had a problem.
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:06 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll just pitch onto the primary cake then.

Just curious, will I be pitching or racking onto the yeast cake? Seems like we typically use rack to describe moving beer between containers, and pitching describes adding yeast. So are both correct?
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:51 PM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll just pitch onto the primary cake then.

Just curious, will I be pitching or racking onto the yeast cake? Seems like we typically use rack to describe moving beer between containers, and pitching describes adding yeast. So are both correct?
"Racking" means siphoning via tubing. Pitching means putting yeast into wort. So, in this case you're pitching on the cake. You're putting your wort and yeast together.

I never rack into primary. You want the cooled wort to be exposed to oxygen and to aerate, so I just dump it in while splashing. Well, that's not entirely true- I'm a weakling and just can't lift 5.25 gallons of wort easily, so sometimes I rack about 1/2 of it, then lift the pot and pour it in. I don't have a ballvalve on my brewpot (yet). It seems like there's always just one more item that I have to have!
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Old 11-12-2008, 03:07 AM   #10
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Not to highjack the thread, but Yooper, did you see my question below about my yeast cake with the hops, trub etc? I plan to use this yeast, WLP001, for a big barleywine after it has fermented my 1.066 APA. I've gotten one opinion, from a poster I respect, about washing it first. I was/am hoping to just pitch the bw right on in, but don't want to risk off-flavors, etc with a leaf-hoppy cake.


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