Interesting topic. I've never experimented with side by side small batches. Just occasional reading. Had found this abstract. Seems there may be an effect increasing diacetyl levels. Never bought the full paper.
The volumetric productivity of the beer fermentation process can be increased by using a higher pitching rate (i.e. higher inoculum size). However, the impact of the pitching rate on crucial fermentation and beer quality parameters has never been assessed systematically. In this study, five pitching rates were applied to lab-scale fermentations to investigate its impact on the yeast physiology and beer quality. The fermentation rate increased significantly and the net yeast growth was lowered with increasing pitching rate, without affecting significantly the viability and the vitality of the yeast population. The build-up of unsaturated fatty acids in the initial phase of the fermentation was repressed when higher yeast concentrations were pitched. The expression levels of the genes HSP104 and HSP12 and the concentration of trehalose were higher with increased pitching rates, suggesting a moderate exposure to stress in case of higher cell concentrations. The influence of pitching rate on aroma compound production was rather limited, with the exception of total diacetyl levels, which strongly increased with the pitching rate. These results demonstrate that most aspects of the yeast physiology and flavour balance are not significantly or negatively affected when the pitching rate is changed. However, further research is needed to fully optimise the conditions for brewing beer with high cell density populations.
The aim of the study was to determine the effect of the initial number of yeast cells in the wort on the process of fermentation, maturation and the content of the volatile components of beer, as well as the viability and vitality of the yeast biomass. The experiments were performed on an industrial scale, with fermentation and maturation in cylindro‐conical fermentation tanks with a capacity of 3800 hL. Yeast for pitching was collected after secondary fermentation (third passage) and wort pitching levels were 5 × 106, 7 × 106 and 9 × 106 cells/mL. During fermentation and maturation, the changes in the content of the extract, yeast growth, yeast vitality and selected volatile components were investigated. Experiments showed that the yeast inoculum had a significant impact on the course of the fermentation and metabolic changes. With increasing numbers of cells introduced into the wort, the content of the esters and fusel alcohols increased, while the acetaldehyde concentration decreased. These changes affected the final quality of the beer. Copyright © 2015 The Institute of Brewing & Distilling
The effect of pitching rate on fermentation, maturation and.... Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280394776_The_effect_of_pitching_rate_on_fermentation_maturation_and_flavour_compounds_of_beer_produced_on_an_industrial_scale [accessed Apr 14 2018].
Home brewing and commercial brewing may not be the same but in some aspects they may be the same.