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Proper Yeast Pitching - Why It's Important
  • jlwjlw
    Posts: 16,417
    The intent of this thread is not be an end all, be all yeast dissertation but rather a primer with a few useful links and some information to help you understand the importance of pitching the proper amount of yeast. I also hope others will add additional information to this thread.

    A friend of mine is getting ready to start brewing and he asked what is the one piece of advice outside of the normal "RDWHAB" and "Have good sanitation". After I thought about it for a few minutes I decided that proper yeast pitching is one critical piece of brewing technique no one told me about and I had to discover on my own through reading.

    There are many benefits to pitching a proper amount of yeast and I suggest you read up using the books and articles available on the internet. The most useful for me being Mr. Malty's article on "Proper Yeast Pitching Rates" found here: http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php There is also a useful calculator and a yeast strain chart found here on Mr. Malty: http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast-tools.php

    A few of the obvious benefits to proper yeast pitching include:
    1. Faster start to fermentation. This is important because your young beer is most at risk during that period of time from when you bring your beer off of the boil and when fermentation begins. Before I pitched a properly sized starter I would sometimes have a lag in the start of fermentation of 24 hours or more. When I started pitching a proper starter I usually see the beginnings of fermentation start in about 6 hours.
    2. In higher gravity beers if too little yeast is pitched the yeast can become stressed and put off undesirable esters giving your beer an off-flavor. I will say there are beers where this may be a desired trait such as Saison’s which are known for a funky taste.
    3. Full Attenuation may not be achieved without the proper amount of yeast cells. If the yeast becomes to stressed they may stop eating the sugars and stop fermenting.
    4. Cost reduction. Very simply, if you are using liquid yeast then you know the cost of liquid yeast. Higher gravity beers may require 2, 3 or 4 vials of yeast. With a starter you can reduce the # of vials you need to purchase usually by ½

    I know there are more benefits that I am not thinking of so please feel free to add your advice.
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    well said. the only thing i would add is two fold.
    1: you can overpitch yeast, especially when you are just starting to figure this stuff out, i overpitched once and it wasn't good.
    2: many times when you toss in a large starter, you will need a blowoff tube, don't rely on the airlock if you are using a large starting becuase the krausen will multiply rapidly, airlock will clog, and you will be mopping your ceiling.
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    What is your best advice on determining how much to pitch? I have used mostly kits, so just pitch what they give me. Starting from receipe now, i am into the unknown now. I hear BeerSmith is a good route, any others anyone is using with good yeast suggestions?
  • djsethalldjsethall
    Posts: 4,022
    I usually add 136 grams of corn sugar to 1000 ml for a nice starter. Boil for 10 minutes and let chill. Add your yeast and let her rip for 24-48 hours before a brew. For 15 gallons I would pitch about half of this. Then I put it in the fridge until I brew another batch. Usually every other weekend or so. I pull it out and put it on the stir plate at room temperature right after filling kegs with water for heat up.
  • jlwjlw
    Posts: 16,417
    Benvarine said:

    What is your best advice on determining how much to pitch? I have used mostly kits, so just pitch what they give me. Starting from receipe now, i am into the unknown now. I hear BeerSmith is a good route, any others anyone is using with good yeast suggestions?



    @Benvarine

    I highly recommend using the Mr. Malty calculator. It really does take all of the guess work out of it.

    http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html