Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Overpitching = Unacceptable Beer

So far, over hundreds of batches of beer, I have never managed to over pitch yeast. In fact, I have mistakenly under-pitched and have had three stuck fermentations. These beers weren't under-pitched because of some experiment I was trying to conduct but because of unviable yeast cells in the dry yeast pack. At times, the yeast I had bought was old and unviable. At times, I had stored the yeast (in the beginning when I had just started brewing, I had stored the yeast in the deep freezer) inappropriately.

But I never over-pitched. I followed a simple rule of thumb: A gram of dry yeast per litre of beer. This falls in line with what is recommended by Fermentis and is a bit more than what you would calculate using Mr. Malty's yeast pitching calculator. But the results have always been consistent.

I also don't re-use yeast because I don't have a way to count the cells and determine the viability. I know of few home brewers who have successfully racked a new batch of beer onto the yeast slurry from the previous batch but I am still not convinced that it is a good method unless someone has done some math, checked the viability at least once and come up with a thumb rule.

In the most recent batch of Golden Strong Belgian Ale, something did not seem right when I was weighing the yeast. It seemed much more than the 5 grams I use for my 5 litre batches. Having no was to ascertain if the quantity was correct (weighing scale was not working), I pitched and crossed my fingers. The fermentation got done in a couple of days (warning sign), and when I tasted at bottling, it seemed to lack the flavors I was looking for. It seemed dull and flat. Post bottling and carbonation, the head would not hold and the flavors, as previously tasted, were not what I was expecting. Even after aging for 15-20 days in the fridge at 6-8 degrees Celcius, the head and the flavors did not improve. Clarity improved but that was it.

Learning: Don't over-pitch blindly or make a mistake while weighing yeast.


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