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Double yeast pitch for lager recipe?

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snarf7

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I've seen this a couple times now with some different lager recipes I've been reading up on. It calls for pitching 2 packs of yeast instead of the normal 1. Is the rationale that the lower temps require more yeast? Or is it a time thing, pitching more will finish up fermentation faster?

The lagers I've brewed so far I've only pitched the single package just like I do for my ales. I typically start them out a little warmer (around 60F) for 2 days to give em a kickstart, then drop to 50 for primary fermentation. Then bring it back up to 65F for 2-3 days for DR and then incrementally drop it down to my final lagering temp. They've turned out fantastic and I prefer not to pay double for my yeast unless I have to but I might be missing something?

Note: I use WLP840 in my lagers...but some of these other recipes I've looked at call for Saflager 3470 which I've not yet used. Maybe that's the difference? Also some of these recipes are from old posts on different sites...as I understand it the quality of yeast has improved quite a bit since the old days?
 

friarsmith

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The short answer, is yes, the lower temps require higher pitching rates, for a variety of reasons.

https://www.wyeastlab.com/lager-brewing/
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2012/11/07/yeast-pitch-rates-explained/
https://byo.com/article/pitching-rates-yeast-techniques/

If you're pitching and fermenting technique is producing beers that you like, then stick with it.

Personally, I've been happiest with lagers (20-25 per yr for >10 yrs) when:

* 300-400B cells are pitched for a 5-6 gallon 1.045 to 1.055 OG beer
* I pitch at 48-50* and let the beer free rise to the mid range of the yeast's recommended temp range (less estery, cleaner crisper beer)
* They're kegged around Day 5-7 upon reaching FG (or 1-2 points above) along with a liter of saved wort (aka speise, "Spy-shuh"). Then a 4 day D-Rest before ramping back down to low 30's over 8-10 days or so. Reduces/eliminates oxidation before cold storage, saves some aromatics, and the natural carbonation is... well... awesome
* Drink a few pints of keller beer around the 4 week mark. Enjoy the amazing head and aromatics. Lager in the low-30's until beer is clear and tasty or all other beer is gone.

You'll turn beers around a lot quicker this way, and not tie up your fermenters very long.

WLP840 and 34/70 are both fine, non-fussy yeasts. IMO, WLP840 produces a softer/maltier mouthfeel and 34/70 is more spritzy and Euro. FWIW, a Saflager rep told me off the record a few years ago at HomebrewCon that the average cell count in 34/70 is north of 150B cells after a year in refrigeration, so two packs of well-handled yeast should get you ~ 300B cells. 34/70 works best when rehydrated, in my experience.

Cheers!
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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Wow, thanks for the detailed reply, that helps illuminate some things for me
If you're pitching and fermenting technique is producing beers that you like, then stick with it.
To be honest it's probably been luck more than anything. I only just got a proper temp controlled fermntation environment setup in the last couple weeks. Prior to that I was using the fact that our old drafty house has many different temperature ranges...in particular, the basement and attic are great for this in the winter because you can get a different temp on each individual stair going up or down. :D It's been cold here so I've been fermenting on the low end of the range and for a little longer than what you noted. Maybe the extra time + lower temp gave the smaller amount of yeast more time to work it's magic?
* 300-400B cells are pitched for a 5-6 gallon 1.045 to 1.055 OG beer
* I pitch at 48-50* and let the beer free rise to the mid range of the yeast's recommended temp range (less estery, cleaner crisper beer)
* They're kegged around Day 5-7 upon reaching FG (or 1-2 points above) along with a liter of saved wort (aka speise, "Spy-shuh"). Then a 4 day D-Rest before ramping back down to low 30's over 8-10 days or so. Reduces/eliminates oxidation before cold storage, saves some aromatics, and the natural carbonation is... well... awesome
* Drink a few pints of keller beer around the 4 week mark. Enjoy the amazing head and aromatics. Lager in the low-30's until beer is clear and tasty or all other beer is gone.
I'm going to give your method a shot with a Pilsner I'm planning, I want it to be very crisp and clean so this sounds like a promising technique. I've typically been pitching at the mid temp range, then letting it warm up a bit (i.e. pitch 55, warm to 60) to get fermentation kicked off, once I notice good activity I drop it down to around 50 (though again, my attic is not a stable temp...might be 51 today, and 54 tomorrow -lol) I like the fast turn around too, more drinking, less waiting

Question for you, when you keg and add your speise, do you carb at that point too?
 

Soulshine2

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I've seen this a couple times now with some different lager recipes I've been reading up on. It calls for pitching 2 packs of yeast instead of the normal 1. Is the rationale that the lower temps require more yeast? Or is it a time thing, pitching more will finish up fermentation faster?

The lagers I've brewed so far I've only pitched the single package just like I do for my ales. I typically start them out a little warmer (around 60F) for 2 days to give em a kickstart, then drop to 50 for primary fermentation. Then bring it back up to 65F for 2-3 days for DR and then incrementally drop it down to my final lagering temp. They've turned out fantastic and I prefer not to pay double for my yeast unless I have to but I might be missing something?

Note: I use WLP840 in my lagers...but some of these other recipes I've looked at call for Saflager 3470 which I've not yet used. Maybe that's the difference? Also some of these recipes are from old posts on different sites...as I understand it the quality of yeast has improved quite a bit since the old days?
lager yeasts work in lower temperatures so I wouldnt say to pitch more because of that. Most people will tell you to overpitch for heightened yeast population at the start . Depending on your batch size and style yeast , just research the manufacturers yeast packets cell count and shoot for above the optimal pitch rate. I do 5 and 6 gallon batches , usually a 11.5 g packet (dry) is enough .
 

friarsmith

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Wow, thanks for the detailed reply, that helps illuminate some things for me

To be honest it's probably been luck more than anything. I only just got a proper temp controlled fermntation environment setup in the last couple weeks. Prior to that I was using the fact that our old drafty house has many different temperature ranges...in particular, the basement and attic are great for this in the winter because you can get a different temp on each individual stair going up or down. :D It's been cold here so I've been fermenting on the low end of the range and for a little longer than what you noted. Maybe the extra time + lower temp gave the smaller amount of yeast more time to work it's magic?

I'm going to give your method a shot with a Pilsner I'm planning, I want it to be very crisp and clean so this sounds like a promising technique. I've typically been pitching at the mid temp range, then letting it warm up a bit (i.e. pitch 55, warm to 60) to get fermentation kicked off, once I notice good activity I drop it down to around 50 (though again, my attic is not a stable temp...might be 51 today, and 54 tomorrow -lol) I like the fast turn around too, more drinking, less waiting

Question for you, when you keg and add your speise, do you carb at that point too?
The 1) speise (think of it as bottling sugar in the keg) 2) CO2 produced by the last point or two of fermentation and 3) residual/absorbed CO2 already present in the beer all combine to carbonate the beer.

Beer fermenting at 50* contains around 1.1 to 1.2 volumes CO2
~One volume of CO2 is produced for every 2 points of fermentation (eg from 1.018 to 1.016)

That gets you in the mid-2's which is good for most lagers. External CO2 is really only needed to maintain head pressure as the keg empties.
 

STMF

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lager yeasts work in lower temperatures so I wouldnt say to pitch more because of that. Most people will tell you to overpitch for heightened yeast population at the start . Depending on your batch size and style yeast , just research the manufacturers yeast packets cell count and shoot for above the optimal pitch rate. I do 5 and 6 gallon batches , usually a 11.5 g packet (dry) is enough .
Fermentis recommends 20g (16-24) for 5 gallon for their lager yeast. So if you pitch just one packet your way lower than they recommened.
 
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