Reusing lager yeast cake

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gxm

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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.
 

MadisonBrewer

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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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gxm

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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.
 

MadisonBrewer

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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.
 

DeathBrewer

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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.
 

Yooper

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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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gxm

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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?
 

Yooper

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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!
 

Pete08

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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.
 

Mutilated1

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I'd use the yeast from the primary and split it so you can make two beers. There should be plenty. Either wash it and save it, or just split it into two buckets and pitch right on top of it.
 
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Raising the dead. I'm finishing up a 1 month primary of a german pils right now and want to dump a vienna lager onto the yeast cake. I try to keep most of the hops particles out of the primary but some inevitably make it into the fermentor. I've washed yeast before but it's a pain in the ass and since this is a lager I figure I don't need to worry about over pitching. will I be ok just dumping the new wort into the caked fermentors or should I take the pains of washing the yeast, making a new starter and resanitizing the fermentors?
 

wildwest450

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I wouldn't necessarily wash the cake, I would however just measure the proper slurry amount and pitch that. For example for a 1.070 lager (5.25 gallons) you would pitch 248ml of slurry or a tad over 8 ozs, according to MM.
 
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Thanks Wildwest, that sounds easy enough. This Vienna lager should have an OG of about 1.050 but I doubt adding 8oz of slurry will have a negative effect on it.
 
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So in order to save time on brew day, I put my pilsner into secondary and scooped up 16oz of yeast slurry into two 8oz mason jars. Anyone have any idea if these will last about 24 hours til tomorrow when I need to pitch them? If so, should I store them in the fridge or at room temp? I tried to get all the air out of the jars, and sanitized the jars by boiling them in water for 10 minutes then cooling them before loading them with the slurry. If this is a horrible idea I'll just buy some Safllager S-23 tomorrow.
 

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So in order to save time on brew day, I put my pilsner into secondary and scooped up 16oz of yeast slurry into two 8oz mason jars. Anyone have any idea if these will last about 24 hours til tomorrow when I need to pitch them? If so, should I store them in the fridge or at room temp? I tried to get all the air out of the jars, and sanitized the jars by boiling them in water for 10 minutes then cooling them before loading them with the slurry. If this is a horrible idea I'll just buy some Safllager S-23 tomorrow.
i would do the jar thing and if i was brewing in 24 hrs i would leave them out in the garage which is in the 40-50 degree range.
 
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has anyone kept yeast slurry for a week before brewing? We got snow here last night and I'd rather go snowboarding than brew in the cold and snow. Should I wash it? Refrigerate it? Or just leave it in the jars at 50 degrees F?
 

eastoak

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has anyone kept yeast slurry for a week before brewing? We got snow here last night and I'd rather go snowboarding than brew in the cold and snow. Should I wash it? Refrigerate it? Or just leave it in the jars at 50 degrees F?
i have a bunch of slurry in my garage right now, been there for nearly a week. it has always held up well for me sitting under a few inches of beer.
 

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I've been reusing a slurry of Wy2308 for about a year. About 10 brews. Sometimes I wash it sometimes I dump the next on the cake. My last batch has taken a long time to clear. I'm afraid It's about time for some new yeast. Then again I may have just screwed it up some how.
 
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So my two mason jars of Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils yeast slurry have been sitting at 55F for a week. I just looked at them today and they have expanded and bent the metal lids of the mason jars and started to leak out onto the floor. I took them to the sink and opened them up a bit and the yeast basically exploded out of the jars. Gas came first, followed by the little bit of liquid that was in the jar and then the thick yeast slurry. I released the pressure in the jars, recapped them and washed them off. Hopefully all is well for tomorrows brew. I really didn't think they'd do that, but I guess it makes sense, since I kept them at a temp that the yeast thrives in.
 

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If you don't pitch directly onto a yeast cake, you should wash the yeast. When ready, decant and make a starter the day before.
If you don't want to wash, pour cake into a flask, add a bit of food and put an airlock on it. You should only put a lid on yeast after it is washed...
 
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