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Old 07-11-2013, 05:16 PM   #1
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Default 6 month old yeast

My go-to home brew is an English Bitter recipe that I have had great success with: http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/british-bitter-all-grain-kit.html.

I love hoppy IPAs but for all the extra costs, time, and pains in the ass of brewing big beers, I don't find it as rewarding considering how many high-quality craft versions are available retail. The retail options for solid session beers, though, are limited, so I really enjoy making AND drinking these simple brews.

Enough pre-amble, here's my question: This time I ordered it as a kit because I was already making an equipment purchase through Northern Brewer and decided to take advantage of the shipping by throwing on a few kits as well. However, I wound up getting side tracked with the other brews and with life, and the yeast (the Wyeast 1945 NeoBrittania), which is still in the back of my fridge, is now 6 months old (manufacture date on the smack pack of January 24th, 2013).

  1. Should I try to make a starter to revigorate it (I have never yet done this, and have no stirrer or other equipment, although I know that's also not really necessary)?
  2. Should I suck it up and get a replacement pack?
  3. Or, by chance, may it still pull through fine if I brew it immediately? Remember, this is a low-gravity recipe.

The Hops are in deep freeze in my chest freezer, and I planned to go buy some extra Kent Goldings to add anyway, since I think the recipe as-is is under-hopped, so I should be fine on that front. The lesson learned here is to stop buying kits, but I knew that already.

Thanks
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:18 PM   #2
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I'd make the starter. Use the MrMalty calculator to determine the size, it will also tell you the approximate viability of the yeast as a percentage.

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Old 07-11-2013, 05:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for tipping me off to MrMalty. However, the calculator is telling me that with a simple starter or intermittent shaking that I still would need 3 packs to create the adequate starter, given that it's down to 10% viability. That's what I was afraid of… or am I doing something wrong?

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Old 07-11-2013, 05:40 PM   #4
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Check out yeastcalc.com for the starters you'll need to make. It allows you to figure out up to three starter steps to get the cell count needed to get the batch going.

I've used yeastcalc to figure out a starter schedule (on a stirplate of course) for 10+ month old yeast before. Stuff took off without issue after the starters were done. Only one that took a while to get going was the first (took an extra 24 hours) step. After that, they were finished within 24 hours of getting that step going. I also kept the starter sizes under 3L (for the largest of the three).

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Old 07-11-2013, 05:47 PM   #5
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You really should learn to make starters. It will make your beers using liquid yeast better. I would also go the route of a stirplate. I made one from mostly scrounged parts for $7.40.

As for your old yeast pack, either make a starter or toss it and get some new yeast. I would bet it will go fine if you made a starter.

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Old 07-11-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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I'm not much of a gambler but I'd be willing to bet that the viability is higher than suggested by mr malty. I find those calculators viability percentages to be on the low spectrum of things, and probably for good reason (benefit of the doubt issue). PARTICULARLY when it comes to saison yeast (that stuff won't die - I'm pretty sure!!)

I would personally do a 800ml liter starter in a growler or similar with lots of intermittent shaking in the mid-70s temp range. If you see decent action inside the growler within a few-to-several hours then the viability was probably MUCH higher than suggested. If it takes 24 hours to do anything then the viability was probably closer to the estimated by mr malty. Either way, as long as the starter finishes up (1-3 days) then you should be good to use it as your pitching amount considering the gravity of your beer.

Caveat: If the starter takes a couple days to get going then you should consider stepping it up another time, or using a new yeast.

This is all just my opinion of course. I've used old washed yeast that took 36+ hours to start fermenting and still ended up with a good beer in the end. I'm willing to bet that you're better off now then I was with my poor pitching decisions

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Old 07-11-2013, 05:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kh54s10 View Post
You really should learn to make starters. It will make your beers using liquid yeast better. I would also go the route of a stirplate. I made one from mostly scrounged parts for $7.40.

As for your old yeast pack, either make a starter or toss it and get some new yeast. I would bet it will go fine if you made a starter.
Starters are far cheaper than tossing the yeast (including shipping costs). Buy your extra-light DME in bulk (3# or more in a bag) and it's far cheaper. Use 100g/1L of starter volume and you're good. Use a stirplate and your starters are MUCH smaller. Use either loose aluminum foil on the top of the flask, or a foam stopper (not a solid stopper or airlock) and you're even better. A drop of fermcap will also help keep the foam under control.

I tried to make a stirplate before, but it wouldn't work right. Was easier/faster to just buy one than trouble-shoot that. I might work to get it running again at some point, but I don't really need to.

BTW, I don't boil the starter in the flask. Simply use a stainless pot large enough to hold the volume. Boil for 5-10 minutes and you're golden. Then chill in the sink (cold water bath) until safe for the yeast. You can decant the spent wort between steps too (I do).

Do yourself a favor and get a few different size stirbars to use too. You'll learn (fairly fast) which size to use for the starter size.
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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
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Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
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