Dangerous High ABV Pitching

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shotgunsteve

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In 55 hours (Friday evening) I'm brewing a Westy Clone with 1.091 target OG and will be using Wyeast 1762 (Belgian Abbey II) yeast (4 packs at about 60%). Will be brewing 11 gallons and fermenting in two standard buckets (will transfer for secondary carboy in about 2 weeks).

Considering creating two 1-gallon starters tonight, but not sure if I'd have enough time to cold crash and decant all that oxygenated wort. If that's the case then maybe I should wait until tomorrow to create a starter and just dump it all in after brewing.

I'm totally overwhelmed by different options for yeast pitching, especially given my time constraints and high gravity beer.


Help! Thanks for your wisdom :)
 
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shotgunsteve

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I could also buy another 2 packs at about 90%, but I'll still be short cells and damn this is getting expensive..
 

Azura

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How are you making your starters? Shake and bake or two stir plates?
 

mirthfuldragon

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Here's what I did: pack of 3787 (actually Omega Belgian W, but same thing) + 5.5 gallons of blonde ale. Then pitched Westy XII on that yeast cake. So I used the little beer as a starter for the big beer. Fermentation finished in like 9 days for the XII at 1.008.

Side note: whenever I get overwhelmed (like I am/was with my current lambic), I kick my brew day a week or two in the future. Sometimes it is better to re-assess and relax, instead of rushing forward with a partial plan, especially when you have 10 gallons of high gravity (and expensive) beer to brew.

Seriously though: pitch 1-2 packs of yeast at a small beligan blonde and reschedule Westy XII in 2 weeks.
 

Azura

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Rescheduling for next week is always a good idea, but making a smaller beer to make bigger beer with the cake only makes sense if you want to drink 5 gallons of the smaller beer. Then there is the racking on a cake conundrum that might make a good big Belgian with some luck. Pitch rate matters. The best Belgians aren't over pitched.
 
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shotgunsteve

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Azura, I don't have a stir plate, so shake and bake sounds right - unfortunately haha.

Good advice mirthfuldragon, I would really like to delay two weeks, but will be out of town then. We may have to go this Friday unfortunately, but will consider with co brewers as I like what you are saying.

Otherwise, we might give 24 hours shake n bake yeast starter, 24 hours cold crash.
 
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shotgunsteve

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Westy underpitches by half. Pitch 4 packs! Ramp that temp up!
Oh really? I like the sound of this haha, how high of temp? This was our planned ferm schedule:

Allow yeast to self-rise to 75/80F (~36 hours @ 21C ambient)
Ferment 4-5 more days @ 75/80F (until <1.015)
Rack for 3-9 more days @ >65F (until <1.012)
Rack to tertiary and chill @ 50F for 40-50 days
 

Azura

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Westy underpitches by half. Pitch 4 packs! Ramp that temp up!
The benefit of under pitching Belgians is under appreciated. You want to make the lamest Belgian homebrew? Go ahead and over pitch. Might as well rack on a cake!
 
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shotgunsteve

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The benefit of under pitching Belgians is under appreciated. You want to make the lamest Belgian homebrew? Go ahead and over pitch. Might as well rack on a cake!
How far do we want to underpitch? as it stands, without any starter we are looking at a pitch rate of 0.28M cells/mL/°P - which seems severly underpitched.
 

SirSpectre

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Oh really? I like the sound of this haha, how high of temp? This was our planned ferm schedule:

Allow yeast to self-rise to 75/80F (~36 hours @ 21C ambient)
Ferment 4-5 more days @ 75/80F (until <1.015)
Rack for 3-9 more days @ >65F (until <1.012)
Rack to tertiary and chill @ 50F for 40-50 days
Looks good to me! I'd skip tertiary and just crash it to 50 for a week then bottle. Let it condition in the bottle for 12 months.

How far do we want to underpitch? as it stands, without any starter we are looking at a pitch rate of 0.28M cells/mL/°P - which seems severly underpitched.
for 11 gallons at 1.091 I'd pitch 350-400b cells. 4 packs, assuming 30 days old is about 320b. Make a 1L starter with one, and pitch the other 3 right out.

Edit: also remember to oxygenate the S*** out of it. Use pure o2 or you'll never get it right.
 

Azura

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How far do we want to underpitch? as it stands, without any starter we are looking at a pitch rate of 0.28M cells/mL/°P - which seems severly underpitched.
Well, he was planning on making two VERY large 1 gallon starters, so your worst possible scenario is not directly applicable. To answer your question, a 30-40% under pitch rate can produce very good results. Other factors include how much O2 to deliver, wort composition, fermentation temperature curve, yeast strain, head pressure and FAN.
 
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shotgunsteve

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Azura and SirSpectre, you both mention the importance of oxygenating - which just lead me down a rabbit hole.... I've always shaken. Looks like I'll be investing in an oxygen stone and disposable O2 cannister for this run....

Sir Spectre, thanks for some specifics - we'll aim for about 400 billion cells for the 11 gallons. I'll let the starter run for the next 24 hours, then cold crash for 24 hours before decanting. Hopefully this is a good process...
 

Azura

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At your presumed 60% viability, 1.091 OG and 11 gal of wort, Mr Malty says you 'need' 678B cells. 400B healthy cells is how many very good Belgian beers get made. You absolutely need to cold crash 2 gallons of starters for 4-7 days to capture more than 80% of the 1762 yeast you made because it's a slow floc yeast. Don't rush this beer. Waiting a week to sort out your yeast can make a big difference with a big beer.
 
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shotgunsteve

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hmmm, suppose you are right.

Although, I just plugged the numbers into Mr Malty. It's recommending about 1.5G. Could I let the starter ride for 48 hours and then just add without a cold crash?
 

element533

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Depending on the yeast you might be able to decant without cold crashing. I typically start the yeast on a stir plate 24 hrs before pitch. It’s usually beginning to flocculate at about 12-20 hours, so I take it off the plate at 4 hours before pitch and just let it settle at room temp. Even medium-flocculating yeasts settle enough to decant off the starter beer. Saves a ton of time, and the less handling of the yeast the better, I think.
 
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