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Pancoastbrewing

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Hello all.

Quick background info. I’ve been doing lots of ales (~1.050) lately (blondes and ambers) using the wyeastII American Ale strain. I’ve reused the yeast (washed) four times now. I salvage as much as I can from the previous batch, decant and just pitch everything I salvage into the new brews. My room temp is in the upper 60’s and I use a wet towel to keep it as cool as I can. Haven’t had any issues with fusels in the finished beer.

Anyway, I’m getting what I would consider crazy active fermentations. I’ve always used a blowoff tube and only rarely ever needed one. Maybe once or twice. The last 3 times I’ve used this yeast, I’ve gotten such a blowoff, I’ve needed to rinse out the tube and container of Star san. I’m now over 48 hours past pitching time, and I’ve had to clean everything out 3 times.

This yeast has been used 4 times in the past 2 months. I’ve basically been able to rack off one brew, wash the yeast, and pitch into a new brew within 24 hours of washing. Am I seeing such crazy activity because the yeast is just so fresh and active? Am I pitching too much (I know this is hard to do). Is this fast ferment something to be concerned about? I imagine I will reach FG within the next 24-48 hours. Like I said, no off flavors, but I also don’t want to stress the yeast by constantly pitching too high.

Thanks in advance!
 

danielthemaniel

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I would be more concerned with a lack of active fermentation. After a few generation of reuse, especially with your quick turn around, you will see a healthier, quicker acting yeast. There is really no cause for concern. Your yeast wont be stressed from a quick fermentation. The stress comes from too little yeast with too much work to do. I think you're fine!
 

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You are pitching too much. How much I am not certain. I have had experience that 2nd and 3rd etc, will ferment more vigorously. I don't think it is much of a concern, but you can use less yeast. I have read that 1/3 of a yeast cake is about right. I've only done this a couple of times, but with good results. Also just save the trub after decanting all the beer above and skip the yeast "washing" Just use a portion of the remaining cake.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

Pancoastbrewing

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You are pitching too much. How much I am not certain. I have had experience that 2nd and 3rd etc, will ferment more vigorously. I don't think it is much of a concern, but you can use less yeast. I have read that 1/3 of a yeast cake is about right. I've only done this a couple of times, but with good results. Also just save the trub after decanting all the beer above and skip the yeast "washing" Just use a portion of the remaining cake.

Hmm not sure what you mean by saving the trub and skipping the washing. Would you care to explain further? Also, it is probably overkill to pitch as much as I have been doing. I just hate dumping any out.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

Pancoastbrewing

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I would be more concerned with a lack of active fermentation. After a few generation of reuse, especially with your quick turn around, you will see a healthier, quicker acting yeast. There is really no cause for concern. Your yeast wont be stressed from a quick fermentation. The stress comes from too little yeast with too much work to do. I think you're fine!

I probably won’t be able to brew for a few months so this will probably be the end of the line for this particular yeast. I find that washing and quickly reusing the yeast is easier than making a starter. They’ve always been a PITA for me for some reason.
 

danielthemaniel

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I probably won’t be able to brew for a few months so this will probably be the end of the line for this particular yeast. I find that washing and quickly reusing the yeast is easier than making a starter. They’ve always been a PITA for me for some reason.
That's definitely true. I'm mostly convinced that DME stands for devils messy extract! I typically harvest my yeast and store for up to around 4 months then use a slurry calculator and estimate a proper starter just for the cost savings.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

Pancoastbrewing

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That's definitely true. I'm mostly convinced that DME stands for devils messy extract! I typically harvest my yeast and store for up to around 4 months then use a slurry calculator and estimate a proper starter just for the cost savings.
For me, it’s tough to plan a brew day several days in advance so I kind of miss the step where I can crash the starter long enough to decant. Something about pitching even a 1.5L starter that skeeves me out.
 

danielthemaniel

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For me, it’s tough to plan a brew day several days in advance so I kind of miss the step where I can crash the starter long enough to decant. Something about pitching even a 1.5L starter that skeeves me out.
It is definitely an extra step and from the sounds of your fermentation, an unnecessary one for you. It's a security blanket for me. I pitch about 1.5L that is decanted into a 40L batch. I've done the same batch with and without a starter and couldn't tell a difference in taste. I think the flavor it adds is very minor. On the other hand, it can only help to not adding that 1.5L of bland yeast mixture into the beer if you dont need it.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

Pancoastbrewing

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It is definitely an extra step and from the sounds of your fermentation, an unnecessary one for you. It's a security blanket for me. I pitch about 1.5L that is decanted into a 40L batch. I've done the same batch with and without a starter and couldn't tell a difference in taste. I think the flavor it adds is very minor. On the other hand, it can only help to not adding that 1.5L of bland yeast mixture into the beer if you dont need it.
I’ve just heard repeatedly how hard it is to overpitch as a homebrewer, so I figured I’d dump it all in for kicks.
 

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I’ve just heard repeatedly how hard it is to overpitch as a homebrewer, so I figured I’d dump it all in for kicks.
It's not that hard if you're using an entire yeast cake! About a pint or less of fresh yeast cake is plenty.

You can pour the entire yeast cake into several sanitized mason jars. I use 1/2 quart jar for 11 gallons, so if you continuously use an entire yeast cake you are definitely overpitching. You could have several issues, but especially watch the temperature because a very active fermentation can get really hot and explosive.
 

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Oh, and don't rinse the yeast. Just save it all, as you'll have healthier yeast in the long run. Check out our yeast stickies on the hows/whys if you're unsure. Water isn't a natural thing to save yeast in.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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It's not that hard if you're using an entire yeast cake! About a pint or less of fresh yeast cake is plenty.

You can pour the entire yeast cake into several sanitized mason jars. I use 1/2 quart jar for 11 gallons, so if you continuously use an entire yeast cake you are definitely overpitching. You could have several issues, but especially watch the temperature because a very active fermentation can get really hot and explosive.
I add about 3/4 gal water to the yeast cake after racking, pour everything into a 1 gal jug, let settle for a half hour and then decant off the trub into (3) 1 qt mason jars. I’ll leave the jars in the fridge overnight and decant again, leaving a little liquid for swirling purposes and about 1/2” settled yeast in each jar. After decanting/swirlingthe 3 jars, I might have a qt total. Didn’t seem like that much actual yeast to me. I guess I was wrong!
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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Oh, and don't rinse the yeast. Just save it all, as you'll have healthier yeast in the long run. Check out our yeast stickies on the hows/whys if you're unsure. Water isn't a natural thing to save yeast in.
I’m not real sure what you mean by saving all the yeast. Isn’t that sort of what I’m doing?
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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I think she means save the mixed yeast and trub, and don’t try to wash or separate the yeast.
But if I’m storing the yeast for a day or two, what would be the advantage of not washing? I get that trub is probably a better medium than water, but if I’m storing an Ale yeast at a refrigerator temp for <48 hours, would it matter much?
 

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But if I’m storing the yeast for a day or two, what would be the advantage of not washing? I get that trub is probably a better medium than water, but if I’m storing an Ale yeast at a refrigerator temp for <48 hours, would it matter much?
But look at it the other way- what's the advantage?

If you are using chlorine free non-mineralized water, it may not hurt. But what would it help?
 

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I pitched directly onto a yeast cake a couple of weeks ago, but it was a big 11% wee heavy onto the cake from a 3% ordinary bitter, so I just thought of it as a really big starter.

In general I prefer to overbuild starters (do a 1.5 quart starter when I only need 1 quart and save the extra pint for the next beer), rather than collect yeast from full batches (mostly I find it’s a lot easier to control sanitation on the starter end of things).
 
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Pancoastbrewing

Pancoastbrewing

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But look at it the other way- what's the advantage?

If you are using chlorine free non-mineralized water, it may not hurt. But what would it help?
I'm far from a microbiologist, but I assume this question is like everything else involving brewing procedures: 100 different ways to do something and everyone swears their way is better ;)

In all seriousness, being just your average homebrewer, I've always read about separating yeast from trub. I know some folks never rack into secondaries, but I would assume most do (am i wrong?). Wouldn't this be sort of along the same lines?

Again though, I'm talking about a very quick turnover when washing. If I went more than a few weeks and certainly more than a month storing it, I would just ditch the yeast. Aside from not having to go through the actual washing process, it's hard to imagine there would be an advantage of separating or not separating if you're storing for a day or two.

My issue seems to be moreso that I'm trying to save as much yeast as possible when I could probably save half or less and get a relatively quieter fermentation. Although, it's still bubbling away today (haven't take a gravity reading yet) and I pitched on saturday evening (72 hours ago), so I'm probably concerned over nothing.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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Yeast health is crucial to good beer. Lower esters, low phenols, little diacetyl, etc- all go to yeast health and the proper pitch rate.

Some food for thought:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/why-not-to-pitch-on-your-yeast-cake.166221/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/simple-yeast-storage-procedure-with-photos.579350/
Good posts, I will read more from those links later. I took a quick glance at the first post from the first link, and it seems like the poster is talking about pitching directly onto a yeast cake. I've never done that and I would assume it's a bit different than washing a cake and repitching? I dont save every drop of what I take from my carboy. In fact, I probably dumped a pint of mixed trub and yeast before I even did the washing procedure (and dumped another pint of watery wort/yeast. Anyway, thanks for your input! Always enjoy discussing and learning.
 

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Good posts, I will read more from those links later. I took a quick glance at the first post from the first link, and it seems like the poster is talking about pitching directly onto a yeast cake. I've never done that and I would assume it's a bit different than washing a cake and repitching? I dont save every drop of what I take from my carboy. In fact, I probably dumped a pint of mixed trub and yeast before I even did the washing procedure (and dumped another pint of watery wort/yeast. Anyway, thanks for your input! Always enjoy discussing and learning.
No, overpitching is overpitching whether it's from a jar or from the yeast cake- the cell count would be the same. Trub doesn't ferment of course, so it's the yeast cells that are the important part.
 

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The other thing to consider is simply $$$$ savings! I get enough for four batches of beer, or more, from one yeast cake. I buy yeast once or twice per year, in the early spring and in the fall if I need it. Each jar of yeast that I save makes four more batches, and so on. So from the first yeast package at $8, I may make 12 or more batches of beer.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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No, overpitching is overpitching whether it's from a jar or from the yeast cake- the cell count would be the same. Trub doesn't ferment of course, so it's the yeast cells that are the important part.
The cell count would presumably be the same if I were able to get every last cell out of my washing procedure. Like I said, I do dump a fair amount off. It’s definitely different than putting fresh wort on an entire cake. I probably still am overdoing it, but I feel like the error is more so in wasting yeast that I could possibly use later on.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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The other thing to consider is simply $$$$ savings! I get enough for four batches of beer, or more, from one yeast cake. I buy yeast once or twice per year, in the early spring and in the fall if I need it. Each jar of yeast that I save makes four more batches, and so on. So from the first yeast package at $8, I may make 12 or more batches of beer.
What is your general procedure for harvesting, if you don’t mind my asking?

Also, I just checked and I’m pretty much right on with my FG (after 72 hours). And of course I drank my sample (tastes good!).
 

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The cell count would presumably be the same if I were able to get every last cell out of my washing procedure. Like I said, I do dump a fair amount off. It’s definitely different than putting fresh wort on an entire cake. I probably still am overdoing it, but I feel like the error is more so in wasting yeast that I could possibly use later on.
I don't see the difference, I really don't. Rinsed from the trub, or pitched with the trub, it's going to be within a minor few billion cells. Without a hemacytometer, it's hard to say but you're definitely overpitching if you're using more than about 3 ounces of yeast in a 1.050 OG batch.

Washing yeast means acid washing under sterile conditions. In your case, you're rinsing yeast with water. Rinsed yeast and yeast stored with the trub do have different viability (rinsing with water would reduce the viability a tad) but not enough to make a real difference in the pitching rate.

If you want to keep doing what you're doing that's fine but at least consider using a yeast pitching calculator and throwing away about 3/4s of the yeast (or save it in another jar or three) first. Try this yeast pitching calculator: http://mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html for a free and easy one.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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I don't see the difference, I really don't. Rinsed from the trub, or pitched with the trub, it's going to be within a minor few billion cells. Without a hemacytometer, it's hard to say but you're definitely overpitching if you're using more than about 3 ounces of yeast in a 1.050 OG batch.

Washing yeast means acid washing under sterile conditions. In your case, you're rinsing yeast with water. Rinsed yeast and yeast stored with the trub do have different viability (rinsing with water would reduce the viability a tad) but not enough to make a real difference in the pitching rate.

If you want to keep doing what you're doing that's fine but at least consider using a yeast pitching calculator and throwing away about 3/4s of the yeast (or save it in another jar or three) first. Try this yeast pitching calculator: http://mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html for a free and easy one.
I always use washing and rinsing interchangeably and I know that’s incorrect but I still do it haha. Thanks for all your help and information.

One last thing, would you consider saving the yeast from this batch considering I’ve been overpitching? A new pack isn’t going to break my bank if I had to get one, but have I guess I’m just curious as to if I’ve overstressed the yeast too far to continue using them? I know they can mutate and do funky stuff if constantly put in stressful environments..
 

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I always use washing and rinsing interchangeably and I know that’s incorrect but I still do it haha. Thanks for all your help and information.

One last thing, would you consider saving the yeast from this batch considering I’ve been overpitching? A new pack isn’t going to break my bank if I had to get one, but have I guess I’m just curious as to if I’ve overstressed the yeast too far to continue using them? I know they can mutate and do funky stuff if constantly put in stressful environments..
Yes, I'd probably not use this yeast any more, but I generally only use a saved yeast three times or so, and then just use another jar. That's one of the reasons I love dividing it up. After fermentation, I pour the yeast into four mason jars and have four batches right there, and then only use one jar as needed. Then save again if I want, so I typically go 3 generations.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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After fermentation, I pour the yeast into four mason jars and have four batches right there, and then only use one jar as needed. Then save again if I want, so I typically go 3 generations.
Yeast or yeast+trub+wort? Are you using glass carboys or a conical?
 

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I always use washing and rinsing interchangeably and I know that’s incorrect but I still do it haha. Thanks for all your help and information.

One last thing, would you consider saving the yeast from this batch considering I’ve been overpitching? A new pack isn’t going to break my bank if I had to get one, but have I guess I’m just curious as to if I’ve overstressed the yeast too far to continue using them? I know they can mutate and do funky stuff if constantly put in stressful environments..
Has your attenuation varied from one batch to the next? If you are getting a lot higher attenuation, that's a sign they are morphing.
 

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Yeast or yeast+trub+wort? Are you using glass carboys or a conical?
Generally I use 8 gallon buckets, and from there go to a keg. I don't leave beer behind, or at least not very much, when I pour the yeast into the sanitized jars. I swirl around to mix, and then pour a thick goop into the jars.
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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Has your attenuation varied from one batch to the next? If you are getting a lot higher attenuation, that's a sign they are morphing.
nope I've been hitting my attenuation right on for every batch
 
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Pancoastbrewing

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Generally I use 8 gallon buckets, and from there go to a keg. I don't leave beer behind, or at least not very much, when I pour the yeast into the sanitized jars. I swirl around to mix, and then pour a thick goop into the jars.
Interesting. I may have to try that.
 

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