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Purposely underpitching...hefe yeasts

So I am planning a roggenbier, partially because I want to try one, but largely to grow up a cake to make 15 gallons of weizenbock.

Hefe’s are ok in my mind, but my palette basically just wants more malt character. Voila rye instead of wheat.

I am going to keep the roggenbier on the low end of the style guidelines, probably around 1.050. Mr. M. Malty indicates that one vial into 5 gallons is underpitching by about half (need either 2 vials or small starter).

I have heard that the hefe yeasts from any lab are the masochists of the beer world. Pitch warm: no problem. Underpitch: no problem either. I actually do want a good bit of banana and clove to come through in this beer to balance the earth/grit of the rye, however I was planning on fermenting relatively low, around 62-63*.

aaaaand now my question: do I need to do a simple starter (MM calls for 1 vial in 1 liter), or would I be better off getting some good phenolics by stressing this yeast a little (a lot?)? The last thing I want in this beer is fusels, but some good esters and weizen phenols would be great…oh and one final requirement: I’m trying to grow enough yeast for the weizenbock, MM says about a liter of slurry with 80% viability.

If you’re using WLP300/WY3068 then I would pitch a normal amount of yeast, this strain produces plenty of clove and banana. My wife likes her hefes with this yeast. I prefer the more restrained WLP380, with it you could theoretically underpitch.

I’ll just paste in the answer I gave you on Stack Exchange…

Adjusting pitching rate is a very iffy way to control a flavor profile. How much do you underpitch to get the effect you want? How do you know your underpitching enough, assuming it even works? Yeast selection and fermentation temp are much more controllable. Also, a number of yeast specialists, such as Dr. Clayton Cone of Lallemand (http://www.danstaryeast.com/articles/yeast-growth) http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/p … inars/2012) and Neva Parker of White Labs (, have cited underpitching as producing fewer, rather than more, esters. That said, if it’s a 1.050 beer you could probably get away without a starter, although if it was me I’d use one. In short, don’t try to control esters with pitching rate…use more reliable methods.

I plan to underpitch my next hef. If using Wyeast, I’ll smack the pack and pitch before it’s fully swollen. If using White Labs, I’ll still make a starter to confirm viability but I’ll pitch at the early signs of life rather than letting it ferment all the way through. If using dry yeast, I’ll use half the usual amount (e.g., half a pack for 5 gallons).

If nothing else, this makes for a fun little experiment. I really don’t think it will ruin the beer at all as long as you confirm that it’s alive before pitching. If it’s super sluggish, then maybe you’d give it more time to get going. You know… be reasonable about it… don’t be an idiot and expect 1 ounce of dead or dying yeast to ferment 5 gallons of wort.

Read at least the first post of this thread: viewtopic.php?t=40751

It has been edited to summarize a 50-page thread exploring weizen.

Thanks! I found this section to be of particular interest:

[quote=“selair”]Well it sounds like you have a pretty good grasp of it all. One thing, you said you had a starter going with WP300. With the white labs vials especially (as opposed to the wyeast smack packs) you do not need a starter for hefes. In fact it is better to stress the yeast a little. Underpitching Hefe is best; I cannot think of any other beer that follows the same rule. This is especially true for a 2 gal test batch. One vial of WL300 is more than enough for a 5 gallon batch, and in fact could probably be used for a 10 gallon one.

One egotistical note…the recipe at the beginning of this post was used by Karl750 to win his medal. It was, however, put together by me through the imput of all contributers to this post.

Prost![/quote]

This is all too appropriate right now as i’m brewing a Hefe today. Made a starter with WY3068 and had a pretty good blowoff in the 2 liter flask. I probably lost about a 1/2 cup all over the floor. Anyway, i was a little concerned that the cell count may be low, and i don’t have more yeast on hand. There is a pretty decent amount of yeast after decanting, so hopefully it’ll be fine. Time will tell! :?

My SOP for weizens is to pitch one smack pack (I use Wyeast 3638 for my weizens) without a starter for 5 gallons. I haven’t done a side-by-side with a batch that uses a starter, but I do think it gives me a bit more phenolics which is what I’m shooting for in my weizens.

[quote=“Old_Dawg”]Read at least the first post of this thread: viewtopic.php?t=40751

It has been edited to summarize a 50-page thread exploring weizen.[/quote]
I’ve brewed the exact recipe as shown on the first page, only subbing for ingredients I couldn’t get here. It makes a fantastic hefe. The protein rest is important, as it bumps up the clove esters, and the 63F fermentation temp keeps the banana in check. The one time I underpitched (using an old 3056 smack pack) I think I got less flavor. But a proper amount of 3056 or a single package of WB-06 sprinkled on the top of the wort have both worked well for me.

Early in the fermentation of my version of the same recipe (using one packet of rehydrated 06 in three gallons of beer) I detected a solid clove note and zero banana. After four weeks there is still no banana, but the clove has faded and the maltiness has increased. I also fermented at 60 - 63 F. At about the three-week point (two weeks in primary and one week in the keezer at 40 F) it dropped clear.

Apparently this beer continuously changes character as it ages, so it’ll be interesting to work my way through the keg. The continuous changes make me wonder how nearly the German weizens we get here resemble the real thing available in Bavaria.

[quote=“Old_Dawg”]Early in the fermentation of my version of the same recipe (using one packet of rehydrated 06 in three gallons of beer) I detected a solid clove note and zero banana. After four weeks there is still no banana, but the clove has faded and the maltiness has increased. I also fermented at 60 - 63 F. At about the three-week point (two weeks in primary and one week in the keezer at 40 F) it dropped clear.

Apparently this beer continuously changes character as it ages, so it’ll be interesting to work my way through the keg. The continuous changes make me wonder how nearly the German weizens we get here resemble the real thing available in Bavaria.[/quote]
The real thing in Bavaria tastes like this beer about a month after fermentation is complete. They drink it fresh there.

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