Reusing Yeast Cakes

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by treyrab, Apr 8, 2012.

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  1. treyrab

    treyrab Champion (827) Aug 26, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    I just brewed a light saison with a farmhouse yeast strain. I also have the ingredients to brew a dark saison and am contemplating just reusing the yeast cake from the light saison. Should I A) Siphon the light saison into secondary and pour the dark saison into that carboy over the yeast cake, or B) Siphon the yeast cake out of the light saison's carboy and into a fresh one that will ferment the dark saison? Also, do you have to worry about the dead yeast cells?

  2. Hogie

    Hogie Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2008 Michigan

    Siphon beer to secondary, pour new onto cake.
  3. treyrab

    treyrab Champion (827) Aug 26, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    Easy enough. Just brewed the saison. So I will wait a week or so to do that.

    Do you find it is beneficial to reusing yeast cakes, as opposed to pitching fresh yeast?
  4. stoutfiend27

    stoutfiend27 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    our situation is a little different as we ferment in conicals but we do harvest and repitch yeast 4-5 times before getting fresh yeast. im not sure what size batches you are doing or how often but if you are brewing as often as we do it helps alot especially with quantity of yeast needed to do 20-23 gallon batches like we are doing. also it seems to me the fermentation starts quicker and seems more healthy. just out of curiosity what temp did you ferment your saison at and what strain did you use??
  5. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Fermentation starts quicker and seems more healthy because you have a bigger yeast colony and because the yeast doesn't need to spend time replicating prior to fermenting. I've also read that for those reasons, one doesn't need to oxygenate the wort of the beer being poured onto the existing cake. After all the oxygen is intended to help the initial replication.
  6. stoutfiend27

    stoutfiend27 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    i can vouch for the not needing oxygenation of the wort..we simply pump through the chiller into the conicals and pitch yeast.
  7. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I always take a couple of scoops of yeast out of the primary before pitching another beer on top. It's easy to overpitch when you have that much yeast present.
  8. ororke5000

    ororke5000 Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2008 Ohio

    i've done it both ways, pouring onto a yeast cake, and rinsing a yeast cake and re pitching. it maybe an unpopular option here, but i have to say pouring right onto the yeast cake is the way to go. yes it maybe less exact, and you have to make sure you are careful not to get any crud in your bucket. but the lag time is next to nothing, and you are sure to have a ton of happy yeast.

    if you are stepping it up from a ~1.060 ale to a ~1.100 imperial, i think it is the way to go. i have done a 3 gallon batch of a small beer (1.050) as a "stater" if you will with a vial of US-001, racked and bottled the small beer and have dumped full batches of stouts or barley wine on the cakes with great success. i have found doing it like this is a great way to make small test batches, with different hops or what have you without committing to something larger.

    also might want to give the beer more than a week in primary. depending on what sasion yeast you are using some extra time will most likely be in your favor.
  9. beer272

    beer272 Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2009 New Jersey

    Yeast cakes are great. You should also keep in mind colors of the two beers. Going from light to a dark stout ok, no probably the other way.
  10. treyrab

    treyrab Champion (827) Aug 26, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the tip. It sounds like the way to go is just siphon directly onto the yeast cake once I transfer the light saison. I brew 5 gallon batches in glass carboys. For this saison I am fermenting at about 85F, using WLP Saison II strain and some funky Brett from prior homebrew batches.
  11. jmich24

    jmich24 Zealot (553) Jan 28, 2010 Michigan

    Would it be okay to repitching on a Saison and Brett Strain?
  12. stoutfiend27

    stoutfiend27 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    repitching on combo of saison and brett is acceptable if thats the beer u are trying to create..theoretically it will get more funky from the brett with multiple repitches but with brett its all up in the air...thats the fun with brett
  13. stoutfiend27

    stoutfiend27 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    sweet..i have found that anything around 85 and up really gets funky even without brett...just really earthy and funky and the higher the temp the better for us...we typically ferment our saisons in the conicals in july in the back of the garage with no temp control...ive seen our temps around 95 +or- a few degrees and u can tell a difference.. we once fermented at normal ale temps and i thought we made a completely different beer..thats the beauty of brewing at home...the experimentation is where its at
  14. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2011 New York

    i just tried this last week. we did an amber ale with california ale yeast from white labs, then pitched a iipa onto it. within an hour the airlock was going nuts, but by the end of day two it was pretty much done. is this unusual?
  15. walows

    walows Initiate (0) Aug 9, 2008 California

    I repitch onto yeast cakes all the time, mostly for high gravity beers. I've had great success with it. There are many pros to repitching like a better, cleaner fermentation, and you can get appropriate pitching rates for high gravity beers.
    However, repitching is not a technique to take lightly. First of all, you have to make sure that your yeast is clean and free from infection. So, good sanitation is paramount. There is also the risk of overpitching which can lead to stability issues in beers that you want to age for an extended period of time. Lastly, the main problem with pitching on a yeast cake is the flavor contributed by the yeast. Most of the yeast profile flavors get produced during the growth stage of fermentation. If you pitch a lot of yeast and get little growth, then you can have too "clean" of a beer. Especially if you are making a saison that needs the flavors contributed from the yeast, repitching on the yeast cake may not result in the ester production one is looking for in a saison.
  16. ajaxivan

    ajaxivan Initiate (0) Jul 3, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Would there be a problem going from 1.060 to 1.100 then back down to 1.050?
  17. Thorpe429

    Thorpe429 Poo-Bah (5,333) Aug 18, 2008 Illinois
    Industry Beer Trader

    The yeast will likely be stressed after doing something 1.100. Most wouldn't recommend repitching on yeast that had fermented something at 1.100; normally the progression is from lowest gravity to highest for this reason.
  18. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I brew big beers and rack directly onto yeas cakes all the time-I brew an oatmeal stout at 1.060 and then use the yeast cake to make my Imperial stout. I've also done a 3 beer series-ESB first, then a rye pale, finally a porter without ever opening the fermenter.
    The one thing you have to watch is fermentation temp. When you rack onto that yeast cake the temps will skyrocket if you are not very careful. I pitch my wort at a very low temp, usually around 58-60F max. I let the temp rise slowly but it can be really tough to keep the temp down once it starts rockin' and rollin'. My imperial stout got up to 85F for a day once but I left it over a month in primary and it cleaned the fusels up really nicely.
  19. fleetwood619

    fleetwood619 Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2012 California

    I had some Trappist yeast in a jar in my fridge for about two months, I pitched it into a starter and it acted so sluggish I didn't trust it. I'd say if you're going to re-use yeast you should probably do it within a few weeks of prior use.
  20. ororke5000

    ororke5000 Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2008 Ohio

    i have tried to so the same, with mixed results... the one thing i have decide on is that i would rather drop the 7 bucks for yeast that i am sure will be active and ready then to take a chance with a sluggish or dead yeast. the one exception to this seems to be wyeast American ale 2. this yeast is a champ, and i have grown up starters from small portions of yeast cakes with out much problems. im now maybe 4 or 5 generations deep on this one.

    as someone mentioned earlier there are some styles that will benefit from "under-pitching" or rather the production of esters. the Trappist yeast is one that im sure the ester production would be important.
  21. fleetwood619

    fleetwood619 Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2012 California

    I was making a blonde with an OG of 1.040 so in retrospect I probably could have just rolled the dice with the yeast I had and if it didn't crank over run out and get a fresh vile. I've heard a lot of talk of over pitching, can anyone explain what harm can come from it?
  22. jmich24

    jmich24 Zealot (553) Jan 28, 2010 Michigan

    In theory, could I have a funky Saison in around a months time? Assuming it gets more funky faster?
  23. stoutfiend27

    stoutfiend27 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    normal fermentation time for us with a saison fermented at high temps is 2-2 1/2 weeks at most...then conditioning and bottling...i would say a month is pushing it but wouldnt be unheard of .....i would say 6 weeks from brew to drinking i would be happy with.. and in my opinion the higher the ferm temps the more you get from the yeast although im sure some will disagree
  24. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Repitched onto a yeast cake for the first time yesterday. Original beer fermenting on it was a DIPA (yeast directly oxygenated) that had a starting gravity of 1.072 and newly pitched beer was an Imperial Stout (no oxygenation done to wort) with starting gravity of 1.098. At first I was a little leery about not oxygenating such a big beer but the cake should have enough yeast built up from the previous brew and I didn't want any unnecessary fermentation lag time. Airlock bubbles started within 30 minutes of pitching! I'm excited to see how fast and complete the fermentation goes.
  25. Mattreinitz

    Mattreinitz Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2012 New York

    I have kind of a side thought. I'm planning on making a strong barley wine for my dad for christmas next year. Currently I don't have an oxygen tank or bubbler that most people recommend for these high gravity worts (1.1+). If I pitch the barley wine onto a yeast cake do I still need to oxygenate it first?
  26. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,081) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I repitched too much of the Farmhouse Ale (WY 3726) into a rebrew of the first Saison and the esters and phenols were very restrained. I would advise putting all the yeast into a sanitized mason jar and pitching the proper amount of yeast into the Saison from there. I would only use the whole yeast cake if the first Saison was about 1.040 OG and the dark Saison is going to be around 1.080+.
  27. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Yes you can. The first beer should build up the yeast cell count enough that you really don't need to add additional oxygen to the next beer.
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