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Yeast Questions

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by alysmith4, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Today's only my send time brewing, and I have a couple of questions regarding yeast. I'm using a Wyeast 3711 (French Saison), liquid yeast with activator packet.

    First, I didn't realize I needed to let it sit at room temp for at least three hours before using. Is three hours really long enough? I would think once the package swells it's usable, but I wasn't sure. And how long is too long to let it sit out? (Like if I wasn't able to use it today.)

    Second, I figured out that it would be logistically better (for me) to pitch the yeast and then aerate the wort, but the instructions are telling me to do it the other way around. If I aerate immediately after pitching, is this still okay? I'm guessing that it's not standard practice to do this as one could aerate too late in the process and over-oxygenate the beer, but again I wasn't sure.
  2. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (380) California Jul 31, 2010

    Three hours is usually long enough to bring the yeast from fridge temps to a range where it's more functional. Longer than that probably won't hurt, unless you out for days.

    After it's swollen, you want to use within a couple hours, but again, it's not super critical, unless you did something like smack it and then wait for week. That wouldn't be wise.

    I don't think it makes much difference whether you aerate then pitch or pitch then aerate.
    alysmith4 and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    As long as the yeast was stored properly after smacking, there should be no issues with waiting a week. Smack Pack internal pouches break once in a while. Doesn't hurt a thing.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  4. Assuming you did an extract brew here. When you pour from the boil pot into the fermenter make sure you let the wort splash. Then top off with water vigorously. Dump the trub from the pot and pour some back into the pot then back again into the fermenter. Pitch your yeast, put on the lid and shake for 45 seconds or so.
    Done.

    Palmer says....
    http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter9-1.html
    alysmith4 likes this.
  5. Vikeman. I accidentaly grabbed the wrong yeast pack from the fridge last week. Smacked it. Realized my mistake about 20 minutes later then put it back into the fridge.

    Good for 3 weeks in the fridge? Should I create a starter to be sure? Wont be a high gravity beer BTW...
  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    It will be good in the fridge for as long as it would have been if you had never smacked it. Whether you'll need a starter or not depends on the gravity of the wort, the number of viable cells in the pack (which is partially a function of age), and the desired pitch rate. I use Mr. Malty rates...

    http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html
  7. Thanks for all the feedback.

    I do have one more question. I didn't realize it until it was too late, that I only pitched 100 mL of the 125 mL packet of yeast. I'm guessing this is still plenty, but wondering what the consequences might be from not using enough yeast in general. My first thought (besides the beer won't ferment quickly or enough), is that it won't be as flavorful. The aroma from the packet was so wonderful, and I'm worried I didn't put enough of it into the beer.

    I know, I know, RDWHAHB, but these are the things swirling around in my head!
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Without knowing your wort gravity or the age of the yeast, it's impossible to say if your partial smackpack will be 'plenty.' Or rather, it's probably enough to make beer, but may not be ideal. Possible consequences of underpitching include...

    - high esters
    - high fusel alcohols
    - under-attenuation
    - high diacetyl
    - high sulfur compounds (particularly in lagers)
    - high acetaldehyde

    I really recommend checking out the Mr. Malty site, both for the pitching calculator, and for the yeast articles there.

    Relaxing and thinking are both good.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  9. With 3711 I'm partially convinced you could drop one cell into the beer and it would be fermented out dry in 24 hours. I wouldn't worry too much with that beer unless you were trying to make a saison well into the single digits in ABV or higher.
    NiceFly and alysmith4 like this.
  10. GregoryVII

    GregoryVII Savant (335) Michigan Jan 30, 2006

    The big thing is not to freak out on the second beer. More often than not the beer turns out pretty good despite our best efforts to the contrary. What you get wrong this time you can learn from for the next time. As VikeMan pretty much already said, you are still going to make beer, but even if you had pitched the whole packet it still probably would have been underpitching. That doesn't mean your beer won't come out alright. But that next step from pretty good to great comes from learning about starters, temp control, yeast health a host of other related factors and most importantly from repetition.
  11. Why's that?
  12. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (380) California Jul 31, 2010

    Are you familiar with the Mr Malty calculator? http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

    A lot of us use that because it saves us the trouble of doing the math to calculate the optimum pitch rate and the starter size needed to achieve it.

    Note that this provides what we might call a ballpark figure. People pitch less (or more) and still get good, even excellent, beer. But Mr Malty's a good tool for knowing about what the pitch rate should be and how to get it.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  13. Yes, I tried to use it (and the one on Wyeast's site), but it didn't make as much sense to me (probably because I'm just not all that familiar yet with the concept).

    I ended up calling Northern Brewer and asking if pitching 3/4 of the packet was enough. He said it was fine.
  14. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (380) California Jul 31, 2010

    It's pretty simple. Just make sure you use the drop down tabs (or whatever you call 'em) to select for the type of fermentation you're doing (probably ale for the time being), the OG, and the yeast production date. You can then see how much dry yeast or liquid you'll need with a simple starter (ie, just putting the yeast and starter wort in a container and leaving it alone) or intermittent shaking or a stir plate, which require less wort.

    And, like they say, relax, don't worry, have a homebrew. Beer is a pretty tolerant product. You can make some mistakes and still have it turn out pretty good. Over time, most of us get to be kind of perfectionistic about really nailing OG, pitch rate, fermentation temp, etc. But you can still make good beer that first time out even if these things are all less than perfect.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  15. I tried using Mr. Malty for the IPA I did last week. OG 1.06

    It says 2L of starter. Seems like a lot of liquid to add to my ferementer.
  16. If you plan ahead you can cold crash the yeast and decant the liquid off.
  17. I've noticed that too, that the tool suggests almost double the amounts I would expect to use.
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    On what are you basing your expectation?
  19. Are you guys choosing simple starter or intermittent shaking? The latter option is easy, just swirl it vigorously every hour or so to degas it and put the yeast back in suspension.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  20. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (705) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Before cutting open the smack pack and adding its contents, give it a good shake. I have forgotten to do this a couple times only to notice, as the package leaves my hands to enter the trash can, that I left globs of yeast clumps in the bottom corners.:oops:
    alysmith4 likes this.

  21. What was the original gravity of your wort?

    Cheers!
  22. The recipe kits and what they suggest, versus the calculator.
  23. 1.045

    (Target 1.041)
  24. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Ah. The instructions that come with a lot of kits are poor. Sometimes they are just outdated. Sometimes, they were already bad when written.

    The recommendations on the Mr. Malty site were developed by Jamil Z. He was (arguably) the most successful competition homebrewer ever, and literally wrote the book on Yeast. It's called "Yeast." Even so, I don't take everything Jamil says at face value. But my beers improved a lot when I started making starters using his suggested pitch rates.
  25. You pitched more than enough yeast for a 1.045 gravity beer.

    You are ‘golden’!:)

    Cheers!
    alysmith4 likes this.
  26. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    This is true if you subscribe to Wyeast's advice that a single pack, regardless of age (or at least up to four months old, which will have less viable cells than a fresh pack), is good for 5 gallons of wort with a gravity up to 1.060. Many do not. I do agree that all other things being equal, OP almost certainly pitched enough yeast to ensure complete attenuation, even pitching just 3/4ths of the pack, unless it was very old or improperly stored.
  27. “This is true if you subscribe to Wyeast's advice that a single pack”

    I do certainly subscribe to yeast vendor’s advice; Wyeast, White Labs and others. The yeast manufacturer’s best know their products. I have consistently stated that yeast calculators such as the one on the Mr. Malty website are conservative estimators starting with the assumption they make with respect to the needed number of yeast cells per ml (the George Fix assumption) to the estimate of number of viable yeast cells after a given period of time.

    I find it fascinating (is that the proper word?) that even on the Mr. Malty website’s FAQ section they explicitly state:

    “Q: How much yeast or how big a starter do I need?

    You should always know how much yeast you need to pitch for a given batch of beer.

    According to both White Labs and Wyeast, a White Labs Pitchable Yeast vial and a Wyeast ACTIVATORTM 125 XL Smack Pack both contain an average of 100 billion cells and are enough to pitch directly into 5 US gallons (18.9 liters) of an ale wort at 1.048 SG (12°P). This is a pitching rate of 5.3 million cells per milliliter, which is close to the pitching rate many professional breweries begin with when starting a new pitch of ale yeast. This rate works well because the health and vitality of fresh laboratory cultured yeast are superior to yeast harvested from normal fermentation. Both companies also concur that higher gravity worts, especially once they exceed a specific gravity of 1.060 (15°P), larger wort volumes, and lager fermentations all require higher pitching rates (or a starter) for optimum results.”

    Cheers!
  28. While I generally agree that Mr Malty is overly conservative, I dare say that Wyeast et al are too liberal. Your rationale is weak.

    Does Coopers best know their products? Then why do they advocate adding simple sugars to their malt cans?
    Does Mr. Beer best know their products? Then why do they advocate using bad yeast and topping up with sugars?
    Does Brewers' Best best know their products? Then they do they ship products without suggesting refrigeration for their hops & yeast? Why do they suggest a secondary after X days, regardless of gravity?

    These suggested processes make adequate (depending on your definition) beer, but not the best beer. Why? Because it costs money to buy more extract, better yeast or make starters.

    There are infinite examples of companies not suggesting best practices because ti makes things simpler and cheaper throughout all industries...
  29. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    [quote="JackHorzempa, post: 950298, member: 55094
    I find it fascinating (is that the proper word?) that even on the Mr. Malty website’s FAQ section they explicitly state:

    “Q: How much yeast or how big a starter do I need?

    You should always know how much yeast you need to pitch for a given batch of beer.

    According to both White Labs and Wyeast, a White Labs Pitchable Yeast vial and a Wyeast ACTIVATORTM 125 XL Smack Pack both contain an average of 100 billion cells and are enough to pitch directly into 5 US gallons (18.9 liters) of an ale wort at 1.048 SG (12°P). This is a pitching rate of 5.3 million cells per milliliter, which is close to the pitching rate many professional breweries begin with when starting a new pitch of ale yeast. This rate works well because the health and vitality of fresh laboratory cultured yeast are superior to yeast harvested from normal fermentation. Both companies also concur that higher gravity worts, especially once they exceed a specific gravity of 1.060 (15°P), larger wort volumes, and lager fermentations all require higher pitching rates (or a starter) for optimum results.”[/quote]

    So is it 1.048? Or is is 1.060? My objection to any starter advice that says 'below this OG you don't need a starter and above it you do' is that it totally ignores the innoculation rate. A four month old package of yeast does not equal a fresh package. If someone wants to believe, perhaps with good reason, that a rate lower than the Mr. Malty recommendation is best, that's fine. But it would still be a rate. Not a binary starter/no starter decision.

    I would ask you to answer this question without quoting a manufacturer: Does it make sense to you that one package of yeast of would be contain the ideal amount of cells for every possible amount of sugars (i.e. OGs of 1.030, 1.040, 1.050, 1.060), regardless of the number of cells that are actually still alive in the package?
  30. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    ^^^
    Wow. I really butchered the english language in that post. I stand by the content though.
  31. There aren't too many styles that would benefit from under-pitching...when it comes to yeast...more usually is better.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  32. “There aren't too many styles that would benefit from under-pitching” I agree that it is not a best practice to under-pitch. I am of the opinion that if you follow the recommendations provided by the yeast manufacturers (e.g., Wyeast, White Labs, etc.) that you are pitching at the proper rate.

    Cheers!
    alysmith4 likes this.
  33. I have never brewed a Coopers kit beer. I have never utilized Mr. Beer to make a homebrewed beer. I don’t even know who Brewers’ Best is.

    I have used liquid yeasts (Wyeast. White Labs, and others) to make hundreds of batches of beer. I follow the recommendations they provide to good effect.

    Cheers!
  34. There's a clear distinction between Coopers/Brewers Best/Mr. Beer and two professional labs that do little other than develop yeast for brewing.
  35. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Even though the number of living cells will be different for every batch (due to age of yeast)? And even though the different gravities of your batches will mean a different number of cells per volume of wort per degree plato? My point is that these manufacturer recommendations are not rates at all.
  36. The only way to know how many viable cells you are pitching is to count them with a microscope and hemocytometer. I have never done that, but there are those that do.
  37. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    And yet the yeast manufacturing recommendations do not actually reflect any real recommended pitch rate. To put the overly simple 'single pack into 5 gallons of wort up to 1.060' recommendation into a rate computation, it would look something like...

    Unkown number of cells per 5 gallons of wort at unknown gravity. Not a rate at all. It's simply a dumbed down recommendation for consumers.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  38. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    I agree. I also think an estimate is better than ignoring the variable.
  39. That was my unsaid point, if you don't count the yeast, an estimate is the best way to go.
  40. Wh
    What is the distinction? We had a Coopers rep on here a while ago and he adamantly defended their products. Coopers in an LME producer. In the end they are companies trying to please consumers and make money. Simple and decent is easier to sell than complex an (sometimes) better (and sometimes MUCH better)

    And if you'd rather I can pick on "good" homebrewing companies like Northern Brewer and Midwest that suggest secondaries when unnecessary, steep unalterable grains & adjuncts, etc...

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