Vienna Lager - Rack To Yeast Cake - Yes/No?

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quaboagbrewing

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Brewed a Marzen/Oktoberfest this past weekend that is fermenting at 48 degrees. When it comes time to transfer this I'm thinking about rolling right into another Lager and brewing a Vienna. Debating whether or not to just rack the Vienna right onto the yeast cake from the Marzen (used Bohemian Lager Yeast) or just harvest the yeast from primary and get another big starter going. I have never racked directly onto the yeast cake from another batch so somewhat curious to try this just to see how it works out. Just not sure if after 4 weeks in primary there will be enough viable yeast to brew another lager. One thing to note is the Marzen is a 5 gallon batch.......the Vienna will be a 3 gallon BIAB so shouldn't need quite the same volume of yeast cells.
 

EoinMag

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When you say rack onto the cake, you mean to move to a new fermenter, transfer the cake and then rack onto it?

Because you can't be talking about racking into a dirty fermenter?

I'd say personally, take a pint of the yeast if a five gallon batch and just pitch the pint into the new fermenter.

A pint should be a good balance of enough lager yeast yet not too much to cause overpitching issues, that said, a lager is hard to overpitch as the characteristics of overpitching are desirable in a lager....
 

CadillacAndy

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I would use Mr. Malty's yeast calculator to determine the amount of slurry that you need. I would do this for a couple reasons, but the main one would be that you don't want the new beer sitting on cold break, proteins, etc from the old beer. You want some yeast growth to make sure you're not relying on tired, old, battle fatigued yeast to do your fermenting.

To help make the process of repitching/reusing lager yeast easier I usually go from my kettle to a 6 gallon carboy and allow it to sit for an hour or so, then use an auto siphon to rack from on top the layer that settles. It helps to keep the yeast cleaner meaning that you don't need to "wash" or "rinse" it.
 

EoinMag

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You want some yeast growth to make sure you're not relying on tired, old, battle fatigued yeast to do your fermenting.
Aren't you better to skip the growth phase in lager to minimise off-flavours?
Seems a little melodramatic with the war imagery :)
 

CadillacAndy

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Aren't you better to skip the growth phase in lager to minimise off-flavours?

Seems a little melodramatic with the war imagery :)

Growth doesn't mean off flavors. If you're too warm you may get some off flavors during this phase, but generally you always want some growth. If the yeast are unhealthy from sitting for a long time and you pitch directly on top, you risk having then conk out before they clean up their mess (diacetyl, acetaldehyde, etc)

If new yeast are required to grow that helps to ensure you have healthy cells to hopefully finish their job before they drop out.
 

fearwig

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You can rack into the "dirty" fermenter, the kreusen scum is essentially an aesthetic problem, not a sanitary one.

5 gal on the cake of a 3 gal batch should be a modest overpitch, assuming similar gravity. If you are set on guesstimating, I would ditch or save about a third of it. (Edit: sorry, thinking ale--that may be about right for a lager.)
 

EoinMag

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You can rack into the "dirty" fermenter, the kreusen scum is essentially an aesthetic problem, not a sanitary one.

5 gal on the cake of a 3 gal batch should be a modest overpitch, assuming similar gravity. If you are set on guesstimating, I would ditch or save about a third of it. (Edit: sorry, thinking ale--that may be about right for a lager.)
You can do a lot of things that are a bad idea.....but it's best not to support silly ideas when people are asking for advice.
 

fearwig

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Or you could read, look around, and realize that it's not whatsoever silly and it's common practice with hundreds or thousands of homebrewers who don't experience infections. If something made that fermenter "dirty", it was yeast. I don't do it because the krausen ring is full of edible proteins and carbohydrates and that makes it seem like less than best practice, but it's going straight from
one medium of live yeast to another, so the risk is remote.

Sometimes the best advice is "stop worrying and make beer", unless your primary concern is covering your ass as an advice-giver (as it is in published literature).
 

EoinMag

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Or you could read, look around, and realize that it's not whatsoever silly and it's common practice with hundreds or thousands of homebrewers who don't experience infections. If something made that fermenter "dirty", it was yeast. I don't do it because the krausen ring is full of edible proteins and carbohydrates and that makes it seem like less than best practice, but it's going straight from
one medium of live yeast to another, so the risk is remote.

Sometimes the best advice is "stop worrying and make beer", unless your primary concern is covering your ass as an advice-giver (as it is in published literature).

or unless you just like giving good accurate advice...when you can.

You keep doing your thing with your recycled fermenters, I'll keep telling people to clean them between brews...I'm funny like that.
 

fearwig

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Or you can tell them to do a rain dance and throw salt over their shoulder before every brew, rather than assess risks as they actually are. Where did I sign up for a pissing contest?
 

EoinMag

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Or you can tell them to do a rain dance and throw salt over their shoulder before every brew, rather than assess risks as they actually are. Where did I sign up for a pissing contest?
When you seemed to think that common practice somehow is equal to "good practise" or "best practise" and decided to take someone on who recommends doing it right...maybe?

As said, keep doing your thing, I'll keep doing mine.
 

bottlebomber

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Guys, you don't want to rack a 3 gallon batch of vienna lager into a dirty 6 gallon carboy that had Marzenlager in it.. Sanitary concerns aside, you will definitely pick up flavors from doing that and not necessarily ones that you want. Will you make bad beer? Likely not. But homebrewing is about making the best beer possible, and I don't think it's worth the time savings (5 minutes) to dump into a cruddy fermenter. Another issue to think about is the amount of headspace you'll have with that small of a batch.
 

fearwig

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When you seemed to think that common practice somehow is equal to "good practise" or "best practise" and decided to take someone on who recommends doing it right...maybe?

As said, keep doing your thing, I'll keep doing mine.
My response to this was (perhaps justifiably) deleted, but don't talk trash (not the word I used last time) about "taking people on" in a thread about beer, I don't know you or care to "take you on" in any possible sense of the phrase. Presumably you're at least 21, so it's unbecoming. It's not about you, I don't know you, so chat nice about beer and keep the snotty macho stuff out.

Guys, you don't want to rack a 3 gallon batch of vienna lager into a dirty 6 gallon carboy that had Marzenlager in it.. Sanitary concerns aside, you will definitely pick up flavors from doing that and not necessarily ones that you want. Will you make bad beer? Likely not. But homebrewing is about making the best beer possible, and I don't think it's worth the time savings (5 minutes) to dump into a cruddy fermenter. Another issue to think about is the amount of headspace you'll have with that small of a batch.
I don't think there's a strong reason to avoid repitching yeast from a marzen into a vienna lager, if that's what you're saying. He didn't say it's a carboy, but a 5-gallon batch can certainly be brewed in a 6.5 carboy, or a similar bucket. I don't see where there's a headspace concern. You don't leave a bunch of beer in the bottom of the fermenter when you do this, you rack as usual and then pour off the excess.

Some people buy new yeast for every batch. Professionals don't, and people who care at all about costs don't. You can do lots of unnecessary things to "make your beer perfect" that don't actually make the beer better, they just make you feel better about how you're doing it. That's fine too. People have been making beer a long time, and I guarantee you they did not always scrub their fermenter down in between two batches.
 

bottlebomber

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I don't think there's a strong reason to avoid repitching yeast from a marzen into a vienna lager, if that's what you're saying.
It isn't.
He didn't say it's a carboy, but a 5-gallon batch can certainly be brewed in a 6.5 carboy, or a similar bucket.
It's not a 5 gallon batch, read his post again.
Some people buy new yeast for every batch. Professionals don't, and people who care at all about costs don't. You can do lots of unnecessary things to "make your beer perfect" that don't actually make the beer better, they just make you feel better about how you're doing it. That's fine too. People have been making beer a long time, and I guarantee you they did not always scrub their fermenter down in between two batches.
Right, but professionals use conical fermenters, which by design allow you to pull very clean yeast off of them. Also, they are brewing a crapload of one kind of beer, which allows them to keep using the same yeast on the same beer. As far as the beer of ye olden day, I'm guessing that a lot of it sucked by todays standards, and had to be drunk within a short time frame before it soured so I don't think it's really relevent to compare their brewing practices to ours.
 

fearwig

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OK, his post actually says the vienna is 3 gal and the marzen was 5 gal, so I had that backwards. Which means:

A) that's overpitch, don't do that without ditching more than half the cake. MrMalty will help you estimate (which is really as much as it can do).
B) you're saying he has too much headspace, which is a bulk aging concern, not ever a primary fermentation concern.

There is no substantial sanitary difference between pulling a cake from a conical and pitching a cake. People have ideas about what part is "trub" and what part is "yeast" but there's a significant amount of both in either. As long as you are not looking at a lot of hop and grain material, you are not looking at "dirty" anything, except the rim of the fermenter, which again is a negligible concern with yeast in active fermentation.

As for flavor, that's obviously a matter open to interpretation, but I would be absolutely floored if someone could tell the difference between a Vienna brewed on yeast from a Marzen and a Vienna brewed on a yeast from a Vienna in a double-blind. Totally blown away. The volume of yeast at work is minimal and does not contain much flavor (other than the flavor of yeast).

Last, ye olde beers were not drunk quickly before souring because of the kind of container they fermented in, but because they were often casked and there was no CO2 to flush the headspace once it was open. Even some modern breweries use completely open fermenters. Oxidation is not a risk in primary.
 

bottlebomber

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As for flavor, that's obviously a matter open to interpretation, but I would be absolutely floored if someone could tell the difference between a Vienna brewed on yeast from a Marzen and a Vienna brewed on a yeast from a Vienna in a double-blind. Totally blown away. The volume of yeast at work is minimal and does not contain much flavor (other than the flavor of yeast).
I wasn't referring to the use of the yeast imparting marzen-like flavors but rather the protein, hop material, and residual beer left over in the trub that would definitely be present if he just racked one out and the other in. I would be surprised if someone wouldn't pick that up.
Last, ye olde beers were not drunk quickly before souring because of the kind of container they fermented in, but because they were often casked and there was no CO2 to flush the headspace once it was open. Even some modern breweries use completely open fermenters. Oxidation is not a risk in primary.
Fair enough point
 
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quaboagbrewing

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Interesting thread that I spawned here :) First chance I've had to climb back in.....I was not planning on adding the Vienna into the same fermenter as the Marzen.......would just collect the slurry from the primary and transfer into a smaller vessel for my Vienna. My concern was not having enough viable yeast but the commentary suggests that I may have too much.......I'll check out mrmalty and see what numbers it suggests. Thanks.
 

EoinMag

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Interesting thread that I spawned here :) First chance I've had to climb back in.....I was not planning on adding the Vienna into the same fermenter as the Marzen.......would just collect the slurry from the primary and transfer into a smaller vessel for my Vienna. My concern was not having enough viable yeast but the commentary suggests that I may have too much.......I'll check out mrmalty and see what numbers it suggests. Thanks.

Good man, dirty fermenters are for washing, not for putting subtle lagers in to pick up gunk and crap from older beers that were in there previously. If it was a stout......maybe, if you were really lazy.
 
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