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Pitching Dry Ale Yeast

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MikeWNC

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Hey friends, I'm a new bee looking for some guidance on pitching dry ale yeast. I have only used ale yeast twice before, and both times I have had an extremely tough time getting fermentation started and have experienced multiple lags and slowdowns. However, I do enjoy the end result when it comes to working with certain flavors in secondary, so I'd like to learn how to use it properly.

I'm prepping for my 11th batch and I plan to use White Labs California Ale Yeast WLP001. When I previously used this dry yeast in a five gallon short mead, I rehydrated 11g yeast by sprinkling it on 14g Go Ferm mixed with 275ml water at 104F (following the same protocol I always use for wine yeast), waiting 15-20 minutes, and tempering the slurry with must every five minutes until it reached the same temperature as the must before pitching. Compared to, for example, 71b, I saw much less activity in the slurry with WLP001 before pitching. I also saw so little activity within 48 hours that I ended up pitching more yeast. Things worked out in the end, but it was a slog, and I know I made mistakes.

Assuming that I am making a standard honey/water short mead, is there a difference in the way I should pitch dry ale yeast as opposed to wine yeast? I have made two such meads before with two different ale yeasts using the same technique and had the same issues with both WLP001 and LalBrew Abbaye. I've heard beer brewers often dry pitch yeasts, but as I understand it, the environments are different regarding nutrition. I would also assume rehydration would prevent an extended lag. I've googled this stuff quite a bit, and I can't seem to find the information I'm looking for with regards to mead making (everything seems specific to beer).
 

Squatchy

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I don't use White Labs yeast. So I don't know if it's a Sach or not
 

Angus1895

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Absolutely rehydrated yeast is the way to go!

I plan on using SafAle s-33 this go round.

I use water and some of the must mixed to start the yeast off.
 
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MikeWNC

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Absolutely rehydrated yeast is the way to go!

I plan on using SafAle s-33 this go round.

I use water and some of the must mixed to start the yeast off.
Perfect! Can you tell me more about what you do? Temperature for hydration, time, etc? Do you use go-ferm or another nutrient during rehydration?
 

Angus1895

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Sep 19, 2023
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I take a clean glass mason jar. Put in boiled water about 3/4 full.

Then I add the hot must about 1/8. Cover let cool to below 80. Preferably over night. Add yeast and let the yeast work for a few hours.

If I am in a brewing situation I use the dregs of a batch I am raking off to inoculate a new batch.
 
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MikeWNC

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I take a clean glass mason jar. Put in boiled water about 3/4 full.

Then I add the hot must about 1/8. Cover let cool to below 80. Preferably over night. Add yeast and let the yeast work for a few hours.

If I am in a brewing situation I use the dregs of a batch I am raking off to inoculate a new batch.
I got ya, thank you. I’m starting from a packet, and I think I’ve been going too high in temp (104F) with the water with I add the dry ale yeast. Also just not sure what I should do about go-ferm… I’ll probably just do a water/go-ferm slurry as I would with wine yeast, but at lower temperature and see if that works.

I can’t seem to find much advice on this, and the technique I use for wine yeast is definitely not working for me with either ale yeast I’ve used.
 

Angus1895

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Sep 19, 2023
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I think 80 degrees F is a safer temp. Room temp is even better.

I used to use British ale yeast but it left too much flocculance.

I also prefer to pasteurize my mead instead of sulfite.

I use half gallon mason jars, and take em up to just below 140 degrees.

Its blackberry mead three years old.
 

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MikeWNC

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I think 80 degrees F is a safer temp. Room temp is even better.

I used to use British ale yeast but it left too much flocculance.

I also prefer to pasteurize my mead instead of sulfite.

I use half gallon mason jars, and take em up to just below 140 degrees.

Its blackberry mead three years old.
Nice!

I can’t find anything on rehydrating Chico WLP001 yeast, but the Lalbrew Abbaye says to rehydrate in the range of 85-95F. The Abbaye did perform better than WLP001 (I rehydrated both at 104F because I was following wine yeast protocol), so I think maybe the rehydration temperature is even lower for 001, like the range you’re suggesting.

Is there a reason not to use nutrients when rehydrating ale yeast?
 

MikeWNC

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Hey guys . Go download the Handbook from here https://scottlabsltd.com/en-us/handbooks

and go look up the Gotmead podcast. Start on 9/5/17 if you want to learn modern mead making from step one onward
I’ve listened to pretty much all of the episodes and I’ve read up on the wine yeast protocol. I follow SNA and rehydration as you, specifically, have instructed on the podcast. I have very much appreciated your advice during my journey into mead. I’m actually on this forum because of the podcast.

Currently, I’m looking for guidance on ale yeast. I have had wonderful results with wine yeast, but I would like to learn what I’m doing incorrectly with ale yeast. If there is an ale yeast episode I have missed, I’d be grateful for the information.
 

Squatchy

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Hi

Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate that. Unfortunately, there isn't any that I know of. Have you sought out the yeast makers' home page to learn from them? I would bet White Labs and Whyeast both would have tons of stuff in regards to help. What do you think you are having problems with? I have had good results with the things I have done. Are you making braggarts? Or just using the yeasts to make meads?

I rehydrate dry ale yeast, just the same as wine yeast. I do use goferm and follow its protocol. However, I will build a starter for 24 hours. In other words, I take the rehydration slurry and double its volume using the attempuration steps. Wait until I see proof of activity, then add a bit of nuts to it and wait for 24 hours. You should have a frothing slurry by that time. And now do the attempuratin protocol to get your temps right, if they are not already the same temp. And then pitch. Aerate it; however, you can for the first two days and then follow regular mead protocols.
 
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darigoni

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"then add a bit of nuts to it and wait for 24 hours."

I'm going to guess that Squatchy meant "must" and not "nuts". :)
 

Angus1895

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Sep 19, 2023
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What are in “ nutrients”.?

Thanks….like I said never used em, only read about them in the “ Joy of Homebrewing,” many moons ago.

A few principles I try in making mead are as follow:

1. I use heat for sterilization, not chemicals.

2. I don’t boil the must and skim the froth ( I think the froth has “ nutrients “.)

3. I’m not big on exposing cooled must to chances of infection. Like in Surgery…..” Time, trauma = trash.”

But I also don’t use a heavy traditional concentration of honey. I shoot for 1.5 pounds per gallon. Often a little less.
 

MikeWNC

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Hi

Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate that. Unfortunately, there isn't any that I know of. Have you sought out the yeast makers' home page to learn from them? I would bet White Labs and Whyeast both would have tons of stuff in regards to help. What do you think you are having problems with? I have had good results with the things I have done. Are you making braggarts? Or just using the yeasts to make meads?

I rehydrate dry ale yeast, just the same as wine yeast. I do use goferm and follow its protocol. However, I will build a starter for 24 hours. In other words, I take the rehydration slurry and double its volume using the attempuration steps. Wait until I see proof of activity, then add a bit of nuts to it and wait for 24 hours. You should have a frothing slurry by that time. And now do the attempuratin protocol to get your temps right, if they are not already the same temp. And then pitch. Aerate it; however, you can for the first two days and then follow regular mead protocols.
Interesting. Is there a reason you wait 24 hours with ale yeast?

I like to use ale yeast for short meads when I’m using certain flavors in secondary, like hops.

I started this latest batch on 11/3 and revised my rehydration strategy based on some information from Bray’s dry ale yeast experiment and the manufacturer recommendations for US-05. Unfortunately White Labs seems pretty insistent that WLP001 should be dry pitched, which I have a really hard time doing.

I used two packets (22g total) for 6.5 gallons of must for a short mead (1.039). I rehydrated with 22g go-ferm in 2 cups of water when the temperature reached 85F. I first sprinkled the yeast onto the water/go-ferm, waited 15 minutes, and then stirred until the yeast was in suspension and formed a paste-like texture. After five minutes, I started adding must in 100ml increments every five minutes until the temperature of must and slurry were roughly equivalent and then pitched.

Those are some big deviations from the parameters (and technique) I use with wine yeast, but I needed to try something different and it has worked well so far! I won’t claim to understand why I needed to use a different strategy for ale yeast, but I’m glad I have something that will really get this stuff cooking. I probably won’t make my third nutrient feeding at this rate.
 
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Squatchy

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So the reason I said to wait for 24 hours on the wet yeast is it allows it to duplicate a couple of times. That, in turn, gives you many more times the yeast to get started with for making meads as they lack nutrients and are a higher gravity.
 

ckroyce124

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Oct 6, 2022
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Greeneville TN
Just my humble opinion... You can't go wrong by making a starter. It heads off problems, the first of which is verifying that you have live yeast, the second is helping to assure that you have adequate amounts of it. 2000 ml water, minus the water you used to hydrate the yeast, preferably spring and definitely nothing containing chlorine or chloramine (read water straight from the tap). Room temp is fine. 6 ounces of honey and 1 tsp GoFerm. Add your rehydrated yeast. Give it a swirl whenever you walk by (or a stir plate if you have one). If it's not fermenting vigorously within 24 hours you probably have yeast that was dead before you opened it.
 
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