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Can I throw a new beer right on a yeast pad after transfering to a secondary?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by geneseohawk, Mar 4, 2013.

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  1. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2008 Illinois

    I just brewed a green flash IPA using California yeast. I was going to brew a blonde ale this weekend. My question was- can I transfer the ipa to a secondary to dry hop and then throw on my new beer to the same yeast pad at the bottom? Or do I need to use a new container of yeast?
  2. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina

    That's what a lot of folks do. I ferment in buckets so I tend to siphon into a secondary then stir up the remaining trub and beer yeast and use 2 or 3 cups for the next batch. Actually, there's usually enough of the trub/yeast mix to save 2 or 3 more cups for an extra batch. (BTW — how are things in Geneseo? I grew up in Kewanee, a long time ago, haven't been back in 1/2 century or more, but thought it was a great place as a kid.)
  3. harpdog7

    harpdog7 Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2012 Illinois

    Yes, you can. Have a blow off tube ready in case it takes off fast.There are some guidelines out there advising what type of beer should come before another, and some people will tell you to only use part of the yeast cake.
    I have done several batches and poured cooled wort right onto a previous yeast cake, with very good results.
  4. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,091) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    You can, but the whole yeast cake is probably too much yeast for the Blonde, and the yeast cake will also have quite a bit of hop oils and alpha acids in it which may come through in the final flavor/finish of a subtle style like a Blonde.
    ericj551 and mattsander like this.
  5. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Yea, generally you brew a 'small' og beer to build a yeast cake to throw a monster beer onto.
  6. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I do it frequently, but only for big, full flavored (hoppy, bitter) monsters. I'd be disinclined to pitch a Blonde on a cake from an IPA. You run the risk of adding flavors that may be out of place in a Blonde. Not unpleasant, necessarily, just maybe a touch different than what you were hoping for.

    Then again, it may be wonderful!
  7. mattsander

    mattsander Zealot (555) Feb 3, 2010 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    You can do this, but in almost every case you will be overpitching. Use a pitching rate calculator to determine how much of that yeast cake / slurry is ideal: http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    That's a good point. The fact that you have a whopping big yeast cake doesn't mean you have to use the whole thing.
  9. brewsader

    brewsader Initiate (0) Dec 7, 2012 New York
    Beer Trader

  10. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Regarding over pitching, I don't worry about that when doing a big DIPA or a Barleywine. I use it all! MrMalty says it's too much, but it works fine. (Many will argue the point, but I take MrMalty's recommendations with a grain of salt). A smaller beer, on the other hand, might actually show symptoms of over pitching. I use the technique strictly for big beers, so I can't comment on that.
  11. harsley

    harsley Zealot (569) Jun 16, 2005 Massachusetts


    Plus, I've put a Cream Ale on an IPA yeast and no noticeable hop presence came through, though I was expecting some. I also put an IPA on a Brown Ale cake and there was no noticeable color or other attribute from that either. In my experience, the previous beer has very little effect on the current one.
  12. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    That's pretty much what I would expect, though I would still be disinclined to use the cake from an intensely flavorful or colorful beer for a lighter, more nuanced beer. No sense tempting fate.
  13. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    You can do it. It will make beer, but it's a massive over pitch. If you do it and and are happy with the result, then fine.

    Alternatively, harvest some of the yeast in an amount according to the MrMalty calculator. Make a starter and pitch the starter when it hits high krausen about 12-18 hours later.
  14. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    What's the point in making a starter with the partial yeast cake?
    mikehartigan likes this.
  15. joshrosborne

    joshrosborne Initiate (0) Jun 14, 2010 Michigan

    I'll be racking a 1.08'ish tripel onto a 3522 cake from a Belgian pale this weekend. I'll try to remember to report back, but I'm sure it will be fine.
  16. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I've always been amazed that I somehow managed to make good beer before mrmalty.com showed up to tell me I wasn't doing anything right.
  17. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    After primary fermentation the yeast is stressed out and some of it is dead. Making a starter improves the overall yeast health and enables you to pitch the yeast at high krausen which will lead to a faster starting fermentation and a more complete fermentation.
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I agree some of the yeast is dead. I believe Mr. Malty takes that into account. Or even if not, with a partial cake, you can control how much of it you use, to use whatever estimated live cell count you want, without a starter.

    How does a starter improve overall yeast health (as opposed to cell count) in any way that adding the same cells to beer wort would not? Also, I've never seen any evidence that pitching at high krausen results in a more complete fermentation. Why do you believe this? (Would love to read any studies if they exist.)

    I agree that you'll get a faster starting fermentation pitching at high krausen, but I don't think that will necessarily translate to better beer. Personally, I crash and decant all of my starters, rather than adding abused starter beer (non temp controlled, possibly oxidized, not part of my carefully crafted recipe) to my real beer.
  19. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    I emailed White Labs and followed their recommendations which I stated previously.

    I've made beer with a slurry without a starter and the same beer a month later with a slurry starter using the same fermentation temperature and old yeast. The beer that didn't use the starter took longer to start (24hours), produced some mild bandaid off flavor and finished at 1.010. The beer that used the same slurry with a starter took off in 8 hours and finished at 1.004 with no off flavor.

    This is all the information I'm providing you. Take it or leave it.
  20. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Not exactly a controlled experiment here. Many things could be responsible for the off flavor including water (Chlorophenols) or bad sanitation.

    Also, without knowing cell counts, you could have underpitched the first beer lacking the starter, then with the starter, over pitched or pitched the right amount the second using the starter. Making the same beer a month apart with a yeast cake that sat in the fridge for a month isn't exactly a well controlled experiment to assess the affects of a yeast starter.

    According to Chris White (http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/Yeast_Life_Cycle.pdf), appropriate lag time for fermentation is 3-15 hours, which suggests that you may have underpitched your beer solely utilizing the cake.
  21. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    The first beer was slightly over pitched according to MrMalty and I'm pretty careful about my water and sanitation.
  22. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    The mild bandaid flavor is, in no way, endemic to pitching a slurry without a starter. Something else happened to that beer. I agree with VikeMan that there's nothing to be gained by making a starter from the cake. It kind of defeats the purpose.
  23. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Well, call White Labs and tell them they made the wrong recommendation.
  24. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I'm not saying they gave you a wrong recommendation (you didn't say what their recommendation was, so how can I disagree with it?). I'm saying that the bandaid flavor is likely an infection, unrelated to the fact that you didn't make a starter. You said that you're careful about water and sanitation, and I have no reason to doubt that. Unfortunately, it seems that something got past you on that batch and you're interpreting that as a downside to pitching on a yeast cake without making a starter.

    FWIW, when I pitch a big beer onto a cake, lag time is typically less than 4 hours.
  25. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    I said what their recommendation was in my first post. FWIW, I don't think it's "wrong" to pitch on cake, if you don't mind over pitching by 200%-300%. This seems like it would be less of a potential problem using a neutral tasting yeast and could produce more yeast flavor than desired with a flavorful yeast.

    If you pitch the recommended amount, you can harvest the rest of the yeast and use it later. If you do that, a starter is definitely recommended for the slurry because the viability of the yeast decreases with time. However, I'm not saying you have to make a starter with a fresh slurry, but it definitely isn't wrong to do it.

    I recognize there is more than one valid way to make beer. However, there is no shortage of home brewers who think their method is the only valid method. This generally makes it a royal PITA to chat with some home brewers.

    I use buckets for fermentation, so my barometer for active fermentation is airlock activity which takes longer to happen. You most likely use glass and can see when the yeast rises much earlier than I can observe airlock activity.
  26. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Reading this all together now, it sounds like you're saying White Labs said to take a portion of a fresh yeast cake and make a starter with it. That seems pretty strange to me. Is it possible you took their response out of context? Or could you post the emails here (with names redacted of course)?
  27. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    No and no. The email was made with an account I no longer use. There is nothing strange about pitching the quantity of yeast recommended by people who make yeast.
  28. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    No, but it is strange for someone (White Labs apparently) to recommend making a starter out of a portion of a fresh yeast cake. It's unfortunate you no longer have the email.
  29. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    It doesn't hurt anything, so why does it sound so strange to you?
  30. Mattreinitz

    Mattreinitz Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2012 New York

    Same here, I brewed a normal gravity oatmeal stout, then pitched a big imperial stout right onto the cake. Airlock activity in just a few hours, krausen foaming into the airlock in about 5 hours, clogged blow off tube and popped the lid off the bucket in about 7 hours. When pitching onto a fresh yeast cake there is almost no delay.
  31. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Because I don't see how it would help either. So why would White Labs recommend it? That's why it sounds strange to me.
  32. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    It increases the viability of the yeast you pitch.
  33. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    That would imply that taking the yeast through additional propagation increases viability vs. just pitching more cells from the fresh yeast cake. I wonder why that would be true.
  34. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Because you don't know the actual viability of the yeast cake. Best case scenario is 90%, but it could be less depending on multiple variables. You don't know the actual slurry viability, unless you can count yeast cells. Making a starter will get you closer to 100% viability regardless of what you started with. I don't see how this could be a bad thing.
  35. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,175) May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    Fair enough, though I am sure that people knew about professional pitching rates in your day. It's merely a question of minimizing problems I guess. Some people are overly anal about pitching rates, others about sanitation, others about hitting target gravities, etc...

    BTW nice new pic, now we know what you really look like.
    NiceFly likes this.
  36. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,344) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yes, if you increase the cell count, you have made a larger number of healthy cells than you would have had than if you had not made a starter (and used the same portion of the yeast cake). My point was that you could get the same number of vital/viable cells by taking a larger portion of the fresh yeast cake. I think the goal is 'number of healthy cells' and not 'percentage of healthy cells.' But if that's your goal, sure, a starter will almost always do that.
  37. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    I understand what your point was and my point is both methods are valid.
  38. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Here is one of the reasons I prefer to pitch at high Krausen. Another is convenience.

    This gives me another reason to make a starter for the slurry.
  39. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Spinning around three times while reciting 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' doesn't hurt anything either, but, since it doesn't help, I don't do it. :wink:
    Danielbt, NiceFly and rocdoc1 like this.
  40. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    To be completely transparent, he also does go on in the same article to mention that for large starters its better to cold crash and decant.
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