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06/03/11 11:30 AM  
Pitching on saison yeast cake
Hey everyone,

I've got a question about repitching a saison.

Typically I wouldn't be so hesitant to pitch on a previous beer's yeast cake, however I'm curious how higher fermentation temperatures might affect future uses. I used the ECY08 Saison Brasserie blend, and got it up to around 82 at its high point.

The beer has now been sitting for about a month on the cake, at a room temp of around 75. I'm not too interested in washing, etc., and hope to be able to pitch another saison wort onto this cake this weekend if possible. What does everyone think? Go ahead and pitch or toss it and pitch fresh yeast?

06/03/11 11:54 AM  
Re: Pitching on saison yeast cake
TO give more detail of the previous beer, the gravity was 1.060, and there was minimal hopping, so the yeast shouldn't be too stressed in terms of fermenting a high gravity wort, and there isn't a ton of hop material mixed in with the cake currently. There is the standard amount of other trub material, etc., however. Second question- :)

How do you guys feel in general about the practice of repitching directly onto a cake?

06/03/11 12:51 PM  
Re: Pitching on saison yeast cake
I would personally think it's a bad idea for 2 primary reasons:

1. Pitching directly on a "yeast cake" also includes pitching on top of dead yeast, trub, possible bacteria (depending on sanitation practices) and other junk.

Not the kind of stuff you want to add from beer to beer.

2. Yeast cellcount (warning: massive simplification to follow).

Beers with flavors/aromas derived from yeast (saison, wit, hefe, dubbel, tripel, etc) need a lower initial yeast cellcount than beers like pale ales, stouts, and lagers. The flavors you want come from the yeast population growth. By pitching on top of all the yeast from a previous batch, you're not getting any growth, so you won't get the flavors that you want in a saison.

Simple yeast rinsing would be a better choice to address both concerns. (Nice section on this in the book "Yeast" by Zainasheff and White). I've used this successfully in lagers where I'm trying to build a big cellcount. I'm not sure how you dependably add a more limited pitch for "yeasty" beers.

06/03/11 01:45 PM  
Re: Pitching on saison yeast cake
Last summer I brewed a 1.055 OG saison with WY 3724. The beer started out at 68 deg F and was ramped up to the mid 80's for about 5 wks time. During that time period the fermenter got up close to 100 deg and I thought I killed the yeast, but the gravity still kept dropping. Long story short, the saison finished at 1.008 gravity. Perfect...

On the same day I kegged the beer, I brewed a dark strong winter saison at 1.070 gravity. I DID NOT use the whole cake as I agree with the above posts. But I did simply pitch about 1-2 cups of the cake (trub and yeast) into the cooled batch. This beer only took 3 wks to ferment down to 1.013 where I kegged it and added some Brett B. to it to finish it up.

I think you would be safe to pitch just a couple cups of the slurry with no problem. I would not repitch onto the whole cake ever, unless you were brewing a HUGE barleywine or Belgian Dark Strong, etc....

06/03/11 02:36 PM  
Re: Pitching on saison yeast cake
Thanks sbe, and thanks brewinhard for this reply as well as yours in the other thread.

So it sounds like pitching a portion of the yeast into the beer would be OK, considering that some of the "typical" saison flavors (esters) are created during the reproductive phase. If I pitch onto the whole cake, this phase won't occur, or else in quantities limiting the flavors I'm looking for.

Thanks for all of the help again!



06/06/11 11:54 AM  
Re: Pitching on saison yeast cake
I just use the Mr. Malty Pitching Calculator. It has a tab for re-pitching from slurry. This will at least give you an idea of how much yeast you may want to pitch.

I just pitched 200 mL of Wyeast 3711 slurry into 5 gals of 1.053 wort. The beer finished in about a week being held in the mid 70s. The yeast performed just like it did out of the smack pack into a 1.040 wort. The ester profile is the same for the re-pitched beer, it might even be a bit more pronounced and the fermentation time was about the same.

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