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Pitched on yeast cake but long lag

I don’t need a lecture on how I shouldn’t pitch on top of a yeast cake. I did it already. I had some extra ingredients so I made another Dubbel to pitch on top of the cake from the dubbel I was bottling. Everything I’ve read has suggested this massive pitch should start fermenting almost immediately with little to no lag. It’s been about 12 hours and I’ve seen no activity. I’ve never had a lag this long even when I originally pitched this yeast (Safbrew BE-256). I’m thinking it might have been a failed pitch but I suppose I’ll wait at least a day to find out. I will reply with more details for the sake of not writing a novel here.

No lectures here, I hope. Lag time isn’t always a function of the amount of yeast pitched. Temperature and aeration level would be more closely related to when the first signs of an active fermentation are noticeable.


Yes how did you aerate?

Thanks for the info. My brew day hit a snag and I’m worried I messed up the yeast. You know what they say about the best laid plans… I had planned on bottling and then brewing and pitching yesterday afternoon so I could use the yeast from the previous batch (same style of beer) I was called into work after I started bottling and didn’t have time to brew the next batch until I got home from work. So the cake slurry sat for over 8 hours in the bucket before being pitched. I also had left this batch in primary for over 3 weeks so is it possible the yeast is all dormant? This batch had an OG of 1.052.

Just rocked the bucket a bit. Not as much as I normally do. I ended up rushing as my brew day turned into a late night because of circumstances I hadn’t planned for.

That might be it. You need to shake the bye jesus out of it.

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It should still be alright though

As long as the yeast in the bucket had some beer covering it, no problem at all with vitality. Three weeks in the primary is not a problem either. Cold temperatures will make the yeast go dormant but they will wake up as soon as temperatures rise and more sugars are available.

Is there a krausen forming in the bucket? Seal the bucket if there is absolutely no sign of a krausen forming and aerate if you did not aerate after pouring the wort on top of the yeast cake.

Otherwise just give it more time.


I had a long lag on one recently. It was 5 days before I saw krauesen. I just racked that beer to a keg 2 days ago. It smelled and tasted fantastic.

I agree with the other guys. Give it a few days.

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Thanks that eases my worries. I’m starting to see some slow airlock activity now. It’s been about 24 hours so I was worried for nothing I suppose. It just threw me because I’d seen this same yeast go crazy almost immediately on almost the same beer on the last batch.

You really can’t judge fermentation by airlock activity. Especially in buckets. Lids leak and gas will find the path of least resistance to escape. Crack a small section of the lid open and peak in if you need reassurance. Once fermentation starts you’ll have CO2 rushing out so nothing bad should get in. Just don’t breath too deeply with your face close to the crack.




You do a few more and you’ll get the hang of it. I will even dump the yeast cake into a sanitized 1 gallon jug, make sure you have a beer cap on it, Saran Wrap for a lid and store it in the fridge for, months! Sneezles61

I appreciate all the replies gents thank you

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I just pitched on top of a yeast cake today… and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing so! Sometimes it isn’t the best practice, and sometimes it’s exactly what you should do. Regardless, there are worse things you can do.

I’m in a bit of a quandary about using a yeast cake right now. I just racked a vienna lager off a cake of wy2001 urquell lager yeast. Some of you may remember it from this thread Yeast fail?

Thing is the vienna tasted really good flat, right out of the fermenter… Looking back through my notes on the brew day I can’t think of anything unusual about my process. One possibility is the wort maybe didn’t have enough oxygen. I seldom add O2 other than what it gets from being pumped and splashing into the fermenter. There’s usually a pretty good foam cap on it so I figure it’s well aerated. I’ve played with oxygen bottles and don’t much like dealing with them. I’ve got a mixstir that I’ll use occasionally but didn’t do it that day.

So would you guys use the cake or no? I think I’d be confident pitching 5 gals to the whole cake but what I’d really like to do is split if for 10.

I don’t actually pitch on the cake per say but what I do is shake up the cake to get it mixed up and pour it into two jars so I can see how much I’m pitching then I dump it into the two fermenters. And shake shake shake.

Done both ways, and it depends when you are brewing is my only factor. I have a hard time allowing yeast to sit in a carboy waiting… If I can figure when I will brew and need a fairly fresh yeastie, rack out the afternoon before, leave some what of a beer cap, then when I brew the next day, I do pull out a quart of sweet wort, chill for a bit, then add to the carboy and swirl as often as you can. OR, just put in a one gallon jug and again, a beer cap… fridgerate and pull out a couple of days before you brew and start waking it up… Sneezles61

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I never had a problem using a yeast cake. I have always added the fresh wort immediately after racking the fermented beer off and leaving some over the top. Have done it with carboys and a conical.

It does make for a busy day if you are trying to bottle the last batch and brew a new one to put on the cake. In my case I was usually either racking to secondary or into kegs.

Normally you would get a quick and explosive start but don’t worry about it. +1 to not trusting the bucket lid to seal. Take a peek at it just to verify. It’s unlikely the yeast won’t do it’s job.

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The above mentioned 2001 cake has about a half inch of beer over it but it’s been four days now. I was planning to brew today but I’m still debating whether to trust the yeast or not. I was just looking at it a few minutes ago and considering splitting it to a couple mason jars and chilling it. That would give me a few more days to taste the Vienna as it carbs up and see if I notice anything off about it.

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