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Harvesting yeast - how to measure next pitch?

Hi All,

I saved my first yeast cake recently (Wyeast 1056) and have it patiently waiting in the fridge to be pitched on some more glorious nectar. My confusion is this: I’ve always started off with vials or smack packs of yeast that tell me an estimated cell count and packaging date, which I then plug into yeastcalc.com to find out how big my starter should be. Now I just have 3 sanitized mason jars with who knows how many yeast cells per jar. How should I go about calculating my next pitch? :?

I have had lots of success using yeast cakes and I use one third of a washed yeast cake. you will lose some yeast when washing and this is all a vary varied process . everyone will do it a little different so its hard to say the yeast count in the end. one thing I know is that you do not need all of a cake. did that one time and had a mess.
used a turkey baster full of yeast slurry once, did a starter from that, and 8 hr later pitched it in 4.5 gals. made great beer
as you can tell I don’t try to figure the count. 25 to 35 % of the cake is what I do.

To each his own. I divide the yeast cake into thirds and think I have 3 Vials or Smackpaks.
If the yeast is very fresh I’ll just pitch it, if not I’ll make a starter. Healthy yeast is the key.
Use a good yeast calculater and have some fun.

1/3 of a yeast cake works well for a similar strength beer. You might want to go with 1/2 to 2/3s of a yeast cake for a significantly stronger beer, and I’ve used entire yeast cakes from “normal” 1.050 OG beers to pitch into barley wines, RIS and other similar 1.090+ OG beers.

If the yeast has been in the fridge for less than a month, it is basically fresh, active and can be pitched directly without worry. Longer than that and you should pitch more or make a starter.

No need to wash the yeast, the trub that you will pitch along with it won’t hurt anything unless you harvested from a very dark or strongly flavored beer and you are pitching into a light or delicate beer.

One note: always smell the yeast before you pitch it. If it smells like something is rotting (autolysed), you may want to reconsider using it.

Awesome! Thanks for the replies everyone. This is all great info. I’ll use 1/3 of the yeast cake like a fresh vial/smackpack for now and go from there based on my results. And I was actually planning on making my first RIS in the not-too-distant future, looking at about 1.093 for it, so I’ll try pitching an entire cake on that one and see what happens.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]1/3 of a yeast cake works well for a similar strength beer. You might want to go with 1/2 to 2/3s of a yeast cake for a significantly stronger beer, and I’ve used entire yeast cakes from “normal” 1.050 OG beers to pitch into barley wines, RIS and other similar 1.090+ OG beers.

If the yeast has been in the fridge for less than a month, it is basically fresh, active and can be pitched directly without worry. Longer than that and you should pitch more or make a starter.

No need to wash the yeast, the trub that you will pitch along with it won’t hurt anything unless you harvested from a very dark or strongly flavored beer and you are pitching into a light or delicate beer.

One note: always smell the yeast before you pitch it. If it smells like something is rotting (autolysed), you may want to reconsider using it.[/quote]

This ^^^! I use to rinse yeast religiously, but have no accepted this practice. I’ve been doing this for 6-8 months now and am still very happy with the results.

[quote=“dobe12”][quote=“rebuiltcellars”][size=80]1/3 of a yeast cake works well for a similar strength beer. You might want to go with 1/2 to 2/3s of a yeast cake for a significantly stronger beer, and I’ve used entire yeast cakes from “normal” 1.050 OG beers to pitch into barley wines, RIS and other similar 1.090+ OG beers.

If the yeast has been in the fridge for less than a month, it is basically fresh, active and can be pitched directly without worry. Longer than that and you should pitch more or make a starter.

No need to wash the yeast, the trub that you will pitch along with it won’t hurt anything unless you harvested from a very dark or strongly flavored beer and you are pitching into a light or delicate beer.

One note: always smell the yeast before you pitch it. If it smells like something is rotting (autolysed), you may want to reconsider using it.[/size][/quote]

[size=80]This ^^^! I use to rinse yeast religiously, but have no accepted this practice. I’ve been doing this for 6-8 months now and am still very happy with the results.[/size][/quote]

+1 to all of the above.
No need whatsoever to wash/rinse the yeast. And if you’re careful, you can keep repitching the resulting yeast cakes (or more usually, portions of them) through 5 or more generations.

I pour my yeast cake into a mason jar marked in ml. Use Mr Malty’s Slurry tab to calc how much to pitch.

+1. This is what I’ve been doing lately. If it’s more than 2 weeks old I make a starter.

I was just eyeballing my pitch amount before but last weekend, I followed the slurry pitch rates from Mr. Malty and it didn’t seem like much (about 1/2 cup of unwashed slurry). While it didn’t start in 3 hours like most times I repitch slurry, it was going good by the next morning and the fermentation seemed pretty healthy.

Awesome! Thanks for the info. I’ll definitely start familiarizing myself with Mr. Malty so I can use the “repitching from slurry” option to calculate. I knew about the Mr. Malty site but had never seen that tab there.

Plus, you can start to time your brewing by when you are ready to rack and harvest!

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