Re-pitching on primary yeast cake??

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sleepystevenson

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Hello All,

Typically I have always done the ole' standby: 1 wk primary, 2 weeks secondary. However, after reading some of the recent discussions on here (about the benefits of a longer primary), I am attempting to go that route.

I usually brew on Sundays and am considering brewing this next Sunday (2/24/08). I have a cream ale that will have been in the bucket primary for 2 weeks at that point. (Using White Labs Cali Ale yeast, pretty std. cream ale w/ flaked corn, OG in 1.053 +/- area)

My question is kinda two-fold.
#1) For you guys who re-pitch on the primary yeast cake: can you give me the pros and cons? Do you like the results? Is this the right time to do so?

#2) For you guys who like the longer primary: Is two weeks enough time in the primary, or am I better off waiting one more week for a total of 3 in the primary? or 4? etc?

I still plan on using a glass secondary for conditioning and clarifying. Probably for a shorter period of time (maybe less than one week.)
I also plan on reclaiming some of the yeast from the primary to save for future batches.

Thanks!!
 

Rhoobarb

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What Orfy said.

The only thing to watch for when pitching onto a previous yeast cake is the potential for blow-off. You'll most likely get a quick, vigorous fermentation and may want to have a blow off tube at the ready.
 

srm775

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You know, you might want to split that primary yeast. There's no harm in pitching on the entire yeast cake. However, some believe that you want the yeast to reproduce (propogate) which adds to the flavor. Without that, beers sometimes are missing a certain something. Pitching onto half a yeast cake will still provide ample yeast for a quick and thorough fermentation.
 

ohiobrewtus

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Anytime I can use a cake from a previous brew, I do so. Just be aware that any special flavorings (orange peel, etc) that existed in your first brew may have impart thenselves on the brew you pitch on the cake. It certainly won't be a strong flavor, but after pitching on a WLP300 cake 4 times I can tell you that it does happen.

Oh, and make sure that you attach a blowoff anytime that you're pitching on a cake.
 

TheCrane

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I seem to get better, or at least faster flocculation when using a primary yeast cake. Even big beers are often sparkling clear by the end of primary. My conjecture is that this process selects for more flocculant cells. Also, I haven't noticed any reduction in attenuation, which was initially a concern that I had. Not sure if anyone can confirm this, just a thought.
 

houndhome1

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I washed my last batch of yeast two weeks ago. I followed the instructions found on this site( very well done). On monday I let one of the mason jars come to room temp, then added 1/3 of a cup of DME and water comb. to a growler and started a starter. I had very nice activity. On tues I brewed using the starter. I have yet to see activity in my primary.

Do u think it may take a day longer because of repitching?
 

slnies

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I will agree with srm775, I don't like adding wort to a yeast cake. I have a couple of reasons,

1. Dependent on the beer style there may be too much yeast in the cake.
2. Instead of using the yeast cake for one fermentation, you could wash the yeast and have enough for the next five.
3. If your not a clean freak, an infection that may not have showed up yet in the previous beer will contaminate this one as well.

But most importantly, why? In most beer styles yeast propagation is required to get the required number of yeast anyway. When yeast propagate to this number, they hit a perfect equilibrium for their enviroment. This is less stressful than competing with to many. The White brothers of White labs suggest that the safest way to reuse a yeast cake, is to have a microscope on hand so that you can asses the health of the yeast that you are going to reuse. This allows you to do a few things, one is check for contamination or infection, you will see it. The next is so you can see how healthy the yeast are. If they are stressed your beer will show it. Propagating new yeast also ensures there are plenty healthy yeast to ferment the beer. With a yeast cake, no propagation has to take place, so if the yeast isn't in good health, you beer will show it. That said, as long as you understand what is involved, experiment away. You might make a great beer. S.
 

mrk305

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"beers are often sparkling clear by the end of primary"

I think you are right. I have re-used some of the trub instead of pitching over the entire yeast cake, and have ended up with very clear beer. Until I read your post I wasn't sure how I acheived such clear beer.
 
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sleepystevenson

sleepystevenson

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Well, like somebody said somewhere on this site: Ask 10 homebrewers a question and get 15 different answers!

Lots of good points here, thanks all.

Good point on the overpitching when using the whole yeast cake. I didn't really think about that. Has gotten me thinking maybe I should just wash it and use a starter.

I guess this is one of those topics that could be up for perpetual debate, eh?
 
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