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Old 08-05-2013, 04:24 PM   #1
AtlChief
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Default Dead yeast in secondary?

Likely a paranoid newbie question here...

I am bulk again a RIS, and the yeast cake at the bottom is getting very dark.
(Picture attached, w/ white sheet of paper for color reference.)

It was white after ~2 weeks, but now ~4 weeks in its turning brown. I was planning to age for 2-3 months before bottling.

1) Is this coloring normal, or is the yeast dead?

2) If dead, do I need to re-rack or bottle, to get the beer off the dead yeast?

3) Also if dead, do I need to add fresh yeast at bottling?

Thanks in advance,
-AtlChief

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Old 08-05-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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This one shows it a little better. 1st picture looks lighter than it does in person...

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Old 08-05-2013, 04:35 PM   #3
solbes
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Pretty normal I think, no need to rack off of this. I would add some fresh yeast at bottling, but not because of the dark coloring seen here. I would add fresh yeast because whats left after 3 months in secondary sitting in high alcohol environment will not be in tip top shape. Would probably carbonate fine, but better to be safe than sorry in an RIS.

Welcome to HBT by the way!

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Old 08-05-2013, 07:53 PM   #4
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A little controversial, but for me if I were to condition it 2-3 months, I would rack her to a secondary. At 4 weeks, with a dark/almost black beer, that yeast looks pretty OK.
Enjoy her!
By the way, I agree with solbes about repitching yeast at bottling. You may not need it, but it's kind of like insurance. Better to do it and not need it, than to need it and not do it. 1/2 pkt. of any dry yeast is plenty.

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Old 12-21-2013, 09:28 PM   #5
AtlChief
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Default Delinquent update

Thanks again solbes and JimRausch. I wanted to check back in and update you guys (better late than never, right?)

I ended up bottling without extra yeast. (The guy at my LHBS convinced me not too...). Initially, they did not carb well. Very light carbonation. BUT, then I realized the mistake I've been making all along, and that the "Tablespoon" I'd been using to measure out priming sugar was actually a tsp.

So, once learned how to measure, I reopened all the bottles, added additional priming solution, and recapped. 3 weeks later, they were all carbed quite nicely.

So a 10.5% RIS, w/ 3 months in secondary, dark and "suspect looking" yeast cake, then 2 weeks primed w/ too little sugar, then another 3 w/ appropriate levels of sugar... All resulted in fine carbonation.

Lesson learned - Yeast is resilient. Don't sweat it.

OH, another lesson learned with this brew session... Temperature of fermentation actually does matter. These fermented at close to 80 degrees cause I didn't believe that it mattered. It DEFINITELY affected the quality of this beer. The porter that I did from the second runnings was nearly un-drinkable due to all the high temp esters that were imparted. The RIS is still drinkable (especially after a few more months of age), but mainly b/c there is enough other flavors to somewhat mask the esters. Don't get me wrong, they are still there... A few that have tried it were completely put off by it and could not finish it. Others did not mind it at all. Me - I recognize the error, have taken steps to correct it going forward, and will happily drink the rest of the bottles while wondering how good it could have been.

Thanks again for the help!
-Atl Chief

Primary: Divine Brown Ale
Secondary: How About Them Apples Cider
Bottles: Mail Order Bride (RIS), Somewhat Overconfident Bastard (~ABA clone)

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