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Old 03-30-2008, 09:01 PM   #1
displacedtexan
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Default Bad beer... caused by wild yeast or old yeast?

So I brewed up a spur of the moment pale ale using White Labs Cal Ale WLP001 that had expired over three months ago without a starter. It took nearly three days to start bubbling. Here is the recipe I used:

10.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 87.50 %
1.00 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 8.33 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4.17 %
1.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 45.3 IBU
1.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (15 min) Hops 22.5 IBU
1.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (5 min) Hops 9.0 IBU
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale

At bottling, I thought the beer tasted pretty fruity and my wife thought it was 'bready'. The bottled beer is terrible too. I may actually have to dump it out... a first since I started this hobby... so sad!!

So, do you guys think it was an infection, or the old yeast?

Thanks!!

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Old 03-30-2008, 09:39 PM   #2
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You underpitched even if you had good yeast. Throw in the unhealthy, probably mostly dead/not viable yeast, and you have the recipe for crappy beer.

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Old 03-30-2008, 09:52 PM   #3
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Interestingly enough I just sat down to watch a basicbrewing video podcast called "CPR for Old Yeast."

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=February-28-2008-CPR-for-Yeast

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Old 03-30-2008, 10:59 PM   #4
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How long was that in the bottle? Fruity is usually from fermenting warmer and bready is usually yeast in suspension.

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Old 03-31-2008, 01:24 AM   #5
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Also, pitching without a starter can cause an excess of fruity esters. Yeast release esters during the growth phase. If they have to grow too much, then the beer can taste fruity.

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Old 03-31-2008, 01:37 AM   #6
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If it's bad yeast, it's usually due to autolysis (sp). I've had two batches with autolysis. The aroma was that of sulfur...rotten eggs. The palette taste wasn't too bad, but the aroma was so strong, that it took over the tast buds.

Give it more time. It's in bottles so no narm in waiting it out. Say another 3-4 weeks chilled and then see what it tastes like.


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Old 03-31-2008, 02:39 AM   #7
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I had 10 gallons of pale ale that was exactly like that. I alsomost dumped it but decided to tuck it away for a month. Perfect!

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Old 03-31-2008, 03:40 PM   #8
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"Fruity" sounds like underpitching or warm fermentation. "Bready" certainly is yeast, and that can come from old, inactive yeast. Sometimes, old yeast just breaks down to make bready, yeasty aromas and flavors. Neither really sound like wild yeasts, though, which typically create more phenols and aldehydes, rather than esters or bready notes.

I agree that there is no reason to throw it out just yet. If it does not get better in time, though, that beer might be better off in the sewer.

If you ever want to deal with old yeast, you need to make a starter, just to see if it can still handle a job. This weekend, I came across an old smack-pack of Wyest Bavarian lager. When I say "old," I mean this stuff had a manufacturing date of September 2006. I went ahead and smacked it and got nothing after two days. I just threw it out this morning.


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Old 03-31-2008, 11:42 PM   #9
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Some styles are under pitched on purpose.

If the old yeast was cold stored it won't be autolysis as that would taste really f'ing aweful. Not bready.

English Ales are fruity on purpose so it may not be to your liking but there are a lot of english pale ales that are fruity and bready. So you may not have an American ale but you may have an English ale.

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Old 06-18-2009, 05:14 PM   #10
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i had a similar problem except i think i left my yeast out of refrigeration for too long due to me being sidelined by the water being shut off to my house for 3 hours. i was using white labs 001, california ale, and i dont think it was out more than 6 hours, although this is probably too long. i pitched the yeast and then noticed the smell, mustard and vinegar. it smelled awful, but i dont know if its bad for sure. should i leave it in my primary and see what happens? i wouldnt have pitched it if i had smelled it first. it would be a shame to throw all that money and time down the drain.

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