Can You Over-Pitch Yeast?

On September 1, 2012, in Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes
Safale S-04

Fermentis S-04

Short answer – yes!

I’ve been giving dry yeast a shot the past few months and I have to say, I do like the convenience. I’ve been rehydrating Safale US-05 and S-04 according to Fermentis’ directions, but based on the results of my last couple batches, I’ve been over-pitching.

I do realize that that the cell counts for dry packages are far higher that White Labs’ vials or Wyeast’s smack packs, and I was pitching three packages. The ales, an IPA and a pale ale have been dry, thin and lacking body. In general, they don’t have a lot of malt character and the hops are just in your face. The fermentations were fast and furious and finished in just a few days. The S-04 dropped out like a rock and provided clear beer very quickly, but at what expense?  Neither of the beers were interesting to drink.  They were just blah. They were over attenuated. I over-pitched.

My most recent brew session was a red IPA and I went back to a liquid culture. I’m eight days into the fermentation and it is still chugging away, but I’m looking forward to getting back to a big, chewy beer as the final product. I think I’ll always have a packet or two of dry US-05 on hand for emergencies, but I don’t think I’ll be pitching dry yeast as the primary fermentation agent. Yea, I could back off a packet and only pitch two, rather than three, but I love what WLP001 does for my ales. Making a starter is some extra work, but why mess with what you know works?

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