Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #1 made 9 months ago
I am using a FastFerment Conical fermenter and have begun to use a technique that I am actually unsure of the pro vs con regarding it. Hoping to get some very experienced folks to school me.

I use no-chill cubes so I do not go straight from the boil kettle to the fermenter. The wort may sit in the cube for several days waiting for the previous beer to be transferred from the conical to the keg. By that time, the wort in the cube is just the right temp to go into the conical fermenter and all the sediment goes into the fermenter with the wort. That can be be a lot if I have thrown some hops into the cube as well....even when I use a hop-sock.

Here is my new technique comes into play. Instead of pitching the yeast immediately, I instead purge the airspace in the fermentor with CO2 and cap it. I wait until the ball at the bottom of the conical has filled with sediment and empty it. Then I do that again if needed. When I see no more sediment, or not enough to worry about, I aerate the wort and pitch the yeast. The first beer I have tried this on is still in the fermenter, so no idea if this is worth the trouble/time. My thinking is, by the time I am ready to harvest the yeast, it will be mostly free of trub and easy to wash.

However, I also know that the trub tends to drop to the bottom anyway....ahead of the yeast. So, if I pitched the yeast immediately upon pouring the wort with the sediment into the fermenter and emptied the ball a couple times to get rid of the trub, I am achieving the same goal.

Thoughts? Constructive criticism appreciated...
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #2 made 9 months ago
Hello [mention]OldGoat[/mention] ;)

I've been very lazy lately so about time I answered a question. And, we haven't had a chat in ages! (How's the RV and everything else going?)

Okay... the first thing that interests/concerns me, is where you said, "that can be a lot," [of sediment] going from the cube even when you use a hop-sock. So, I'm wondering a few things: what is the porosity of your hop-sock?; what is the porosity of your BIAB bag?; how are you transferring from kettle to cube?

Why I ask this is because I can transfer even a highly hopped brew to a cube and have almost zero trub by the time I pour it into a fermenter. In fact, I pour the cube into the fermenter as hard as I can so as to aerate it. So, why are you getting so much trub? :scratch: :think: :dunno:

You know me well enough by now that I have bought every bit of equipment that is possible and found that the more complicated it is, the less it serves you. So, for me, a conical has a lot of disadvantages but I really don't think that is the problem. (There are problems with you delaying pitching in it though.)

For me, the real question here is why are you getting so much trub?

:think:
PP
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #4 made 9 months ago
Hey PistolPatch! How have you been? Thanks for taking the time to address this.

Well, I am unsure of the porosity of both the brew bag and the hop sock. I forget where I bought my bag, but I had a custom one made from voile from a reputable company (I think it was "brewinabag.com". Obviously, neither are as fine as they could be otherwise I would not be transferring so much sediment. I transfer to the cube directly from the kettle through a petcock. No filter. I don't want to move away from the conical because it is perfect in my brew room, whereas if I started using a carboy again, I would have to reconfigure things. I am not adverse to that if someone can convince me that a carboy is "better" than a conical. As far as the timing of the pitching goes, you are probably right. After thinking about it for the last couple of days, I will probably do away with this new technique, regardless of the amount of sediment I transfer and just deal with whatever trub I end up with. Washing the yeast is not that big of a deal. Where do you get your brew bags and hop socks? Do you know the porosity?

Janet and I just bought a home in the NW Georgia mountains on a river...beautiful here. We traveled for three full years in the fifth wheel and it just got too tight. And our main reason for the traveling was to try to figure out where we wanted to settle down. When we found it, we stopped moving, put the RV in storage (we will still vacation in it) and bought this place. I brewed only for the first year in the RV. Room and temperature control were my enemies and I was not very successful in my attempts at brewing on the road. But now, I have a 1,000 sq ft garage where I have built a small temperature controlled fermentation and stock room. So I am back at it. I have been brewing for a very long time (as you know), but still consider myself a novice BIAB brewer. This is definitely the way to go and I am loving it.

When you have the time, I would like to hear the reason for your low opinion of the conical. I have not really had a successful beer using it yet, but so far, I have attributed it to the reasons I listed above re. the RV... Like I said above, I am not adverse to going back to carboys. I always made good beer with them in the past.

Take care PP. Hope to talk to you soon.

PS: This site is looking amazing. Obviously a lot of time and thought has gone into it. I know I am not the only one who appreciates all the effort...
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #5 made 9 months ago
MS, thanks for responding. The first beer that I made once I began again I did siphon into the fermenter. One of my faults that I must overcome is trying to get every last bit of wort into the fermenter. So I inevitably pick up sediment. Yeah, I know....sometimes less is better.

I am interested in the siphon you have connected to that cube. It looks completely sealed. Is there a relief somewhere to prevent a lock so the siphon works? And what is the stainless connector? I have never seen one of those....

Thanks again. Looking forward to your response.
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #6 made 9 months ago
[mention]Mad_Scientist[/mention] : I haven't seen that one before MS. (Looks like the stainless steel bit is a DC motor/pump?)

[mention]OldGoat[/mention] : How have I been? As mentioned, lazy (not really), but getting back into the swing here now :)

If the conical is working well for you then that's great! I just use pails due to ease of handling, cleaning and being able to refrigerate them.

The more I think on it, your bag porosity is probably okay. Perhaps the conical is just "exaggerating" the amount of trub you have. In other words, the pointy end makes it look like there is a lot of trub when there probably isn't. From memory, you have one of the plastic conicals. I'm wondering if on the next brew, just pitch straight away and, after a week, see if you can shine a powerful light through the bottom bit.

What I'm thinking is that it might be possible to see a difference in colour in the trub: the kettle/hop trub being the lowest and a different colour than the trub from fermentation lying on top of that.

Bag porosity note

Bag porosity is hard to define as there is not only thread count but the width of the threads themselves. Here's a pic of mine which may be of help???
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #10 made 9 months ago
PP, thanks for the pics. I have never thought about actually counting the threads, but you made me do it... My mash bag has the same thread count as yours....30/centimeter. And my hop sock comes in at 36...

I have never used pails for fermenting. My only reason for that is, when my wife bought me my first home brew kit back in '97, she bought two glass carboys. So, it just seemed natural to me to collect carboys from that point. When I sold everything as we hit the road in the RV, I bought the conical because I thought it would work well in the RV. So as I started to build up my equipment again, I just naturally decided to continue to use the conical as my fermenter without giving a thought to any other options. Well, you got me thinking and I just ordered a couple of pails. I needed more fermentation vessels anyway. These will work much better than carboys in my situation. (I hate working with glass carboys around concrete!) So, I am going to go back to basics. Thanks for opening my mind....

MS, unfortunately I do not have a machinist friend that can make stuff for me. Pretty fancy. I took some time to look through the thread you linked. Lot's of great ideas and recipes. I think I may try a couple. And Rick makes some beautiful labels for his bottles!

Scott, I used to cold crash all the time. I just got a chest freezer that I turned into a kegerator. It has room for one pail to cold crash, so I will start that again.

For all, I will probably make another post for this new problem, but I figured I would start here. My second batch is still sitting in my fermenter (conical) due to a stuck fermentation. The first (Irish Red) had a GAW of 1.045. The second (Amber) GAW was 1.049. Both stopped fermenting at 1.026. I aerated both of them using an aeration pump prior to pitching, but in all honesty, I think the pump is going bad. Just didn't seem to get a lot of bubbles. Since then, I have purchased an oxygen aeration setup and will use that from this point on. I would think that after the wort has been in the cube for awhile, it needs a lot of 02 for the yeast. Another new addition to my brewing setup that could be a factor is the water. Since I have just settled in a new place, I am using this water for the first time. I tested PH (forget the reading right now) and it is well within accepted standards. However, I have not yet had a full analysis done on the water. Believe it or not, in all my years of brewing, I have never had a stuck fermentation until now. Any ideas from the experts? I feel like I am learning how to brew all over again. As always, I appreciate any input.
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #11 made 9 months ago
Well, not sure that I qualify as the expert level you are hoping for... But there is some knowledge here and maybe I can add something to your question - or maybe just a confirmation to something you are already thinking.

Have had twice where had trouble on attenuation. Both times were same issue with yeast not being 100% healthy with starters built for lagers. First finished around 1.020 on a Dunkles Bock which was too sweet unless mixed with a German Pils... Next time I had that issue, couple years later, added more fresh yeast in fermentation vessel, from recollect, and that helped take care of it. Have to look back on notes but may have added a starter then too.

No worries to do what you need to so not to wind up too sweet at the end. You don’t want that. And we’ve all had weird things happen so don’t feel bad that it happened to you this time.
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #12 made 9 months ago
Scott wrote:
9 months ago
...we’ve all had weird things happen so don’t feel bad that it happened to you this time.
Too right!

Thanks for the update OldGoat. Be good to see if you can measure the volume of trub on the pail versus the fermenter. I reckon they'll be the same.

Stalled Fermentation

No idea on this Goat. 1.026 seems very high? While I think of them though, I'll jot down some random notes that might apply to others (check number 4 as it's an easy one to miss)....

1. Refractometer readings are affected by the colour of the beer so should only be used to measure changes in gravities not actual gravities.
2. Hydrometers available to homebrewers are not precision instruments. It is not uncommon for two hydrometers to give different readings on the same wort.
3. Darker beers have a higher final gravity than lighter beers using the same yeast.
4. Don't rely on a single mash thermometer. (e.g. "dial" thermometers can be knocked out, digital probe thermometers can become "sticky.")

Suggestions...

If final gravity reading is high, take a sample and taste it for "sweetness." If it doesn't taste too sweet then maybe there is an instrument/measuring problem rather than a real one?
If it is sweet and your mash thermometer was accurate and your fermentation temperature control was reasonable then....

As Scott said, your yeast must be buggered but, the more I think on it, the more unsure I am about this? If it was buggered, why did it suddenly stop fermenting? Surely, even if it was buggered, it would at least slowly drop in final gravity?

Let's say it was a mash temperature problem. Would adding a champagne yeast fix it? (I have no idea.)

:scratch: :think: :smoke:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 06 Mar 2018, 22:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #13 made 9 months ago
Scott, thanks for the info. On my first batch, I did not originally make a starter. I just pitched a pack of White Labs Irish Ale WLP004. I didn't notice the packaging date, although that is something I always used to note...I have forgotten some of my old habits. When the batch got stuck at 1.026, I got another pack of the same yeast (again not noting the date :headhit: ) and made a starter this time using some bottling sugar I had since I did not have any DME. It didn't seem to do anything at all and I wanted to free up the fermenter for the next batch so I cut my losses on that batch. I put it in a keg and it is carbonating....only because I had an empty keg. It is a drinkable but not particularly enjoyable pint...

For the second batch, I made a starter. Again I had no DME (I really need to build up my inventory again) so I drained some wort from the fermenter (now containing the second batch - Amber) and pitched a White Labs British Ale WLP005 (not noting the date :headhit: :headhit: - I'm not a very fast study). Got a good starter going and pitched it the next evening. Three days later, all activity stopped. I left it for a couple more days just to be sure and checked the SG. 1.026. By the way, all readings up to this point had been with a refractometer. I will address that in more detail in my reply to PistolPatch. So, this time I harvested some of the yeast from the collection ball on the conical and made another starter with it. I oxygenated the partially fermented wort (up to this point, I had been aerating) with my newly purchased oxygenation kit and pitched the starter. I noticed some very slight activity for a couple days. I just checked the SG again with a refractometer and hydrometer. Refractometer reading: 1.026. Hydrometer reading: 1.019! Liquid (not sure at this point if it is wort or beer!) has a slightly bitter aftertaste but definitely better than my first batch. I have some work to do...pulling my hair out.

PP, Some very good points.

1. I have been using only my refractometer since I bought it many years ago. I check the calibration prior to every use and have always thought it to be accurate. I may have known at one time that the color can affect the accuracy of the reading, but I have not considered that for some time now.
2. I pulled out an old hydrometer that I buried when I bought my refractometer. The refractometer was just so easy to use...with less cleanup. It is amazing how quickly a person can become reliant upon a tool and not consider it's accuracy until something goes wrong.

Between the refract/hydrometer, I don't know which is correct. But since they don't match, it is time to at least buy another hydrometer and use it to check both the others.

3. This one I was aware of :clap: .
4. I use two thermometers when I mash. I use a Thermoworks Smoke thermometer and a dial thermometer that I calibrate using a Thermapen MK-4. My last mash (Amber) began at 156.1 F/69 C and finished at 155.3 F/68.5 C. I am pretty confident in my mash temperature accuracy.

So, with all that said, I am going to change a couple things up. First, I will start (again) noting the packaging date on my yeast. While I am thinking of it, I always had pretty good luck pitching dry yeast...just got away from it years ago except for a couple instances where I could not find the right WL or Wyeast. Do you habitually use dry or liquid? If using liquid yeast, I will always make a starter, size based upon the OG and age of the yeast. I will oxygenate from now on. And since I will have a couple pails on hand, I will not be leaving the wort in the cube for as long as I have been. I do need to update some of my measuring tools, specifically the hydrometer. this one has been sitting around for so many years, who knows.

Thanks both of you. I hope all this made sense. I will keep you posted with my next batch. Scottish 60 Shilling...
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #14 made 9 months ago
I just thought I would mention it, as I haven't seen it written anywhere in this thread......but you are Correcting your hydro readings with a calculator due to alcohol skewing refractometer readings?
G B
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I've stopped drinking, but only when I'm asleep
I ONCE gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #15 made 9 months ago
Mally, thanks for the reply. Honest answer? No...I didn't even think about it. I am in work right now learning how to do the correction. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have never used the refractometer before this to determine SG of fermented wort.... Lots to learn/relearn.
OldGoat
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #16 made 9 months ago
Glad to hear you're making headway [mention]OldGoat[/mention] :peace: and that [mention]mally[/mention] added the alcohol correction point :salute:

A few more things for you:

Have a read of The Urine Post . That has a few examples of problems you can get with measuring even in samples without alcohol.

This post shows a method of taking a single sample to monitor the progress of fermentation from start to finish. (I actually just take one sample after the main fermentation activity settles down and then put a plastic bag and rubber band over that sample. This way the yeast is well mixed in and you don't get krausen in your hydro jar.)

Pitching extra yeast for a stuck fermentation is often suggested as a fix however I've rarely, maybe even never, heard of it solving the problem :scratch:. You seem to have found that too Goat. Thanks for taking the time to post that.

1.019 is actually pretty common for dark beers of normal OG. (I should do some side by side Schwartzbiers to see if this is a BIAB thing.) For recipes that aren't coming out dry enough for me, I've been doing step mashes say 15 mins @ 50°C / 122°F, 25 mins @ 60°C / 140°F and 25 mins @ 70°C / 158°F and 1 min @ 76°C / 169°F for an IPA. (Just trying to find some records but the only ones I'm finding quickly are high gravity brews such as IPA's with OG's of about 1.075. These were getting down to about 1.017 which is fine.) Lift your bag off the bottom as you raise the temp for each step. Each step should take about 10 mins so your total mash time ends up being a bit over 90 mins. So, you could try that.

As for yeasts, I use dry yeast if possible for the style. (K97 is a good one for Kolschs by the way). If not suitable, then I go for the liquid but it's pretty expensive over here if you are only doing a one off batch.

Just noticed you mentioned you were mashing at 69°C / 156°F. It's not uncommon for thermometers to be several degrees out at mash temperatures (see the evidence in this Test of Eleven Thermometers). If you are really mashing at say 71°C, this is going to affect your attenuation. If I was doing an amber ale, I'd be aiming at more around 66-67°C / 151-152.5°F. I think 69 is too high.

Looking forward to hearing more on how your next brews go ;)
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 08 Mar 2018, 11:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Holding off on yeast pitching

Post #17 made 6 months ago
Taking early steps to manage trub would be better, as mentioned by others with bag and sock porosity etc. I started with poor quality bags and eventually made up a few fine mesh Swiss voile bags (thank you beachbum/bribie for the simple circle design) the difference in trub was massive. Added whirlpooling at the end of boiling and slow transfer to the cube, again big improvement. My next step was cold crashing, whereby waiting for the primary ferment to finish and transferring to a secondary, then dropping the temperature to usually about 2d for week or so a lot of haze or particles drop out.
The majority of my brews are dark ales and stouts and I forgo to secondary and cold crash for these.
Your method though is simple, doesn’t take much time to do, and still prevents oxidisation. It’s a question of how far you want to go until you’re happy with the end result. A couple of pale ales now I’ve used all my prior mentioned methods plus biofine as a final cleanup and man, when I hold that glass or bottle up to the light, it shines clear.... at an extra cost of time and money.
Stout, Stout, Stout, and some other stuff...
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