I’ve Been Pitching Yeast All Wrong

Did I over pitch? Did I under pitch? What’s going to happen to my beer? These have been a big concern of mine for a while, yet I never dove too deep into it. For a long time I’d just smack my WYeast pack, let it bloat and pitch – or just dump my vial of White Labs in my primary. I never really had any issues, but I also wasn’t hitting my target FGs either.

When I started doing small batches (1 gallon), I would use an entire smack pack or vial and was seeing much better results in hitting my FG. And now I know why, I was under pitching by just dumping 1 pack/vial of yeast straight into the fermentor for a 5 gallon batch.

Ideal Pitching Rates

Ales – you want to pitch around 750K cells of viable yeast, for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato.

Lagers – you want to pitch around 1.5M cells of viable yeast, for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato.

So to find out your target yeast count = (# of ale/lager cells) x (ml of wort) x (degrees Plato)

So on average for a 5 gallon batch, you’ll want around 180 billion cells or 15 billion per degree of Plato. Cell counts vary by strain, but a large WYeast pack contains around 100 billion and a vial of White Labs has 70-120 billion cells.

So if that’s the case, you’d need 2 vials of While Labs or 2 packs of WYeast for “optimal” conditions, but using it as is will still make some damn fine beer. I don’t have lagering capabilities, so I only brew ales. I’m using a 2-liter starter in my 5-gallon batches and getting great results.

Make A Yeast Starter

If you don’t want to double up on yeast, create a starter or even re-pitch your yeast. By making a starter, you’re going to be miles ahead of many homebrewers and should see immediate results in your next batch.

Follow the link above for full info on making a starter. But if you want the quick version:

  • Add 1 gram of DME for every 10 ml of water
  • Bring to a boil for 5 minutes
  • Cool, aerate (swirl or aerator), add yeast – yeast nutrient optional
  • Let propagate for 24-48 hours before pitching

Let me know your thoughts, tips, trick or what’s been working (or not working) for you.

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