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Old 07-29-2007, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default Dead Yeast

I've just gotten what I think is my 3rd dead yeast from my LHBS.

The first was a couple months ago a White Labs tube. The was no "pfssst" when I cracked it open and my starter failed to take off.

Now this weekend I've had two dead Wyeast smack packs. The first (June 07 born on date) I got home in about half and hour. It was warm out, but the pack still felt cool to the touch when I got home. The pack never swelled, but it was getting late, so I pitched to my starter and went to bed. The next morning, nothing. I had a few month old discontinued VSS pack in the fridge that I had bought online, so just to check out my starter, I pitched it. Activity in half an hour. So I went back to the LHBS with the dead pack and they kindly gave me a replacement. This time I took a cooler and a gel pack to keep it cool on the way home. I smacked the replacement (Feb 07 BOD) and again no swelling. I pitched to a starter and again nothing this morning.

I am always very careful that my starter is cooled to 70 F or so.

I don't have time to get another starter going, so I'm going to use the VSS starter even though it's not the ideal yeast for the beer. (Yorkshire yeast for a Hobgoblin)

Am I just unlucky? It wouldn't be the first time.

What kind of failure rates are others getting on liquid yeast?

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Old 07-29-2007, 08:42 PM   #2
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I rarely get the smack packs to swell when I use them. What criteria are you using to determine if your starter "worked"? Are you doing it in a beaker? On a stir plate? I have had starters that I did not think were any good (the most recent batch is an example). If I'm not sure, I take a surgical glove or a balloon, sanitize it, and rubber band it on the top of my beaker. If I get a rise out of it, all is well. I also keep my starters in the basement where they consistently stay at 79 degrees. High for fermentation, but the little buggers take off quickly.

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Old 07-29-2007, 08:49 PM   #3
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All of my starters, both before and after I went to a stir plate, have had a nice krausen by the next morning. The dead ones have still tasted of sweet wort. I am using the breathable foam stopper on the flask and I do oxygenate. It's been warm here, high 70's to low 80's in the house. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but hey it is the beach after all.)

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Old 07-29-2007, 08:50 PM   #4
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I have yet to have a problem with liquid yeast. Almost all of my Wyeast smack packs display some sort of swelling. Some more than others. Doesn't the package say that it is best to use within 60 days of the "born" date label?

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Old 07-29-2007, 09:06 PM   #5
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I have never had any trouble with the liquid yeast even ones that sat in Mississippi while on its way to me.

I think you may have given up too soon. What was the yeast? I have made large starters, seen no activity, and gotten a 24 lag.

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Old 07-29-2007, 11:13 PM   #6
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The yeast was an 1187 Ringwood. I've used it before with good results.

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Old 07-29-2007, 11:51 PM   #7
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For every month old the smack pack is, you have to allow one day for the pack to swell. I had a 6 month old pack that I smacked a week early. By the time I brewed, it was swelled just fine. Despite the directions, a few hours are not enough time. If you pitch before swelling, you'll just increase your lag time, but your beer will probably be fine.

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Old 07-30-2007, 01:17 PM   #8
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is this part of making a good starter?

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Old 07-30-2007, 05:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grnich
For every month old the smack pack is, you have to allow one day for the pack to swell. I had a 6 month old pack that I smacked a week early. By the time I brewed, it was swelled just fine. Despite the directions, a few hours are not enough time. If you pitch before swelling, you'll just increase your lag time, but your beer will probably be fine.
That's probably why I don't get much swelling (in the pack) because I only let it sit for 8 hours. I pitched a London Ale III yeast to a 2 liter starter and saw zero activity on the stir plate but I got a bit of CO2 to inflate a balloon on the beaker. I pitched it to Cheese's CCA and got Krausen blasting out the blow off in 4 hours.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:43 PM   #10
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To me, having to wait that long indicates that there are very few viable yeast cells in the pack or tube.

Oh well, I pitched the known good Yorkshire starter and this morning I have a nice healthy krausen in the carboy.

My pressure cooker arrives tomorrow. Time to start my own yeast ranch.

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Next up: Burton IPA

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