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Old 11-09-2012, 06:29 PM   #41
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All the above is especially true if you consider the customer may hold that yeast for up to about a month in his/her own fridge. I often buy ingredients and don't have time to brew for a while. I think it's fair if the vendor assumes about a month of additional storage.

I just pitched Roeselare that was about 4-5 months old. From what I understand, this is even more critical as you are not supposed to use a starter and an aged Activator packet will have different blend percentages than the original packaging. In the end, I still used it - and had an extra long lag - and may get an extra sour beer (or at least a different sour beer) on the other end.

Aside from that, I don't really care about the age of yeast. I also try to use dry yeast whenever possible - it's cheaper and just as good for most neutral or British styles... and they last for years in the fridge.

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:32 PM   #42
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Like buying milk. The store can sell it right up to the sell by date, however, most stores manage their inventory so that the milk they're selling is no where close to the sell by date. When I've gotten yeast from MoreBeer! it is almost always less than a month old. The yeast I get from my LHBS is sometimes a couple months old. I want the freshest yeast possible, that said, I've bought yeast and stuck it in the fridge for a few months before using it. I've never had an issue from using old yeast.

At the LHBS I'm just happy they have so many varieties so I understand that for them to do that some of it might sit there for a while. But I would tend to favor an online retailer that typically ships very fresh yeast.

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:34 PM   #43
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I'd like to go out on a limb and say that the yeast calcs cannot possibly predict, within a reasonable amount, the actual viability of all yeast.

For starters (pun intended), strains behave differently from each other. Some may be less resilient to temperature. Others not so much.

As well, they cannot know the conditions the yeast actually had to go through before being pitched. It could have been a nice cool refrigerated jaunt from factory to store, or a hellish journey through Death Valley mid summmer.

They very likely sampled maybe different yeasts and calculated a reasonable assumption and erred on the side of caution.

Just because a yeast is 3 months old doesn't mean that it has the same viability as a package of yeast sent to another customer. Anything could have happened during any shipment.

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Old 11-09-2012, 07:45 PM   #44
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For those asking about what the cutoff point is - typically with an ale yeast I might not have been as concerned, but with a lager or hybrid yeast (which many call 2112) the yeast count needed is a lot higher so the older the yeast the more screwed you are. I think we can agree not all yeast types/beer styles are created equal.


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Old 11-09-2012, 08:25 PM   #45
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For those asking about what the cutoff point is - typically with an ale yeast I might not have been as concerned, but with a lager or hybrid yeast (which many call 2112) the yeast count needed is a lot higher so the older the yeast the more screwed you are. I think we can agree not all yeast types/beer styles are created equal.


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I used the 'lager' selection on yeastcalc to figure out the starter sizes I posted. Set the production date about 5 months back and went through the settings. If it was an ale yeast, the starter sizes could/would be smaller.

As far as actual viability of the yeast, you'll know if it's still usable with the first starter. If it doesn't at least show some sign of activity within 24-36 hours, chances are it's kaput. I had 10 month old vials of yeast take about 24 hours to show activity, finishing about 24 hours later. That was the first step, the rest took off much faster due to more 'young' yeast cells being present. You can also offset some of your concerns by either dating the pack older, or setting the viability or original cell count lower.

I typically aim to have a bit more yeast cells with a finished starter routine. That way, even if the original count is a bit low, I'll still be in good shape. So far, this has worked very well for me, with older yeast packs.
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:08 PM   #46
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As far as actual viability of the yeast, you'll know if it's still usable with the first starter. If it doesn't at least show some sign of activity within 24-36 hours, chances are it's kaput.
I use a stir plate. Ever since doing so I don't know how to tell the activity. Without the stir plate, and with an airlock (which I no longer user because it's worse off) I would see activity - either via the no longer used airlock or via visible fermentation signs like Krausen. How does one see activity with an active stir plate? It's always in motion so no krausen ever forms on my starters.


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Old 11-09-2012, 09:25 PM   #47
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I use a stir plate. Ever since doing so I don't know how to tell the activity. Without the stir plate, and with an airlock (which I no longer user because it's worse off) I would see activity - either via the no longer used airlock or via visible fermentation signs like Krausen. How does one see activity with an active stir plate? It's always in motion so no krausen ever forms on my starters.


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I base it on color. When it's tan and milky the yeast are in suspension. When you can see some streaks of darker beer the yeast are trying to flocculate, that's when I turn my stirplate off.

I might do a pictorial on this, was thinking about it the other day.
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:43 PM   #48
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As mentioned by Gameface, color is one indicator. Another is foam forming on the spinning wort. Once the foam is gone, chances are it's done. Some strains will clump up a lot when finished, and be swirling in clumps. You just learn what to watch for with the different strains you use. Most of the time, the starter will be lighter in color due to the yeast clumping (at least some) and spinning in it.

If you have a large enough flask, that you don't need to use fermcap to prevent foaming over, you'll get more sign.

I would guestimate that the first step would be finished in 24-48 hours from when you start the bar spinning. Second should only take ~24 hours, same as the third. I would plan on 24 hours of cold crashing between steps (longer for less flocculating yeast strains). Then carefully decant the spent starter before pouring fresh starter wort into the flask. This is where it helps to have a decent sized pot (that you can use). I usually use my 8qt pot for 2-3L of starter wort. Under 2L I have a smaller pot that does a good job. Also, a cold water/ice bath in the sink will chill it well enough. Especially since you're chilling no more than 1.5L of starter wort at a time.

BTW, you would need a 50L starter (on a stirplate) to get the same amount of yeast from the three steps I outlined. Kind of insane when you think about it, and I see why you were a bit pissed off at the start of the thread. Now you can do it using under 400g of DME (390) and a total of 3.9L of starter wort. Oh, and 50L is about 13.3 gallons, and is also the size of one of my sanke keg fermenting vessels. That's a LOT of starter wort to make.

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Old 11-09-2012, 10:24 PM   #49
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If you often miss your brew day because your ingredients don't arrive on time then either your scheduling or your expectations may be too aggresive.

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Old 11-09-2012, 10:39 PM   #50
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@Golddiggie - I wasn't pissed, I just really didn't expect such a resistance to store credit and thought it not worth losing a customer. If I were in their place I would've said I will give credit but in the future the customer would either need to call to check the date or put a note in the order. Problem solved.

Anyhow, the final update is after two emails communicating with the person on the phone they've given me store credit. I didn't keep pressing or anything, they reached out to me and after a small discussion explaining both our points he decided to email me and let me know he gave me store credit - which I greatly appreciate.


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