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Old 04-24-2011, 12:30 PM   #1
Gack
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Default Help with old yeast *low viability*

Hey gang, I'm a newbie to whole grain and preparing starters, so please be gentle :-D

I have a question about my starter (1 L /100g DME) and some pretty old wyeast. The problem is that I failed to notice the date on the yeast packet so when I smacked it and dumped it into my starter and 12 hours later, failed to see ANY activity in it...became curious and then noticed the date. My yeast were almost 2 years OLD!! Well outside the 6 month window most consider for off the shelf Activator packs like this.

After about 2 days on the stir plate though...I am seeing activity now. I have a white funnel developing (whirlpool affect of the stir plate) and notice some additional white "floaters" spiraling around on the surface...so...there appears to be some life in this old pack...just obviously a low % of original viability....this now leads me to my question(s):

1.) Had I started with a fresh/new pack (nearly 100 billion viable cells) I should have upwards to 150 to 170 billion from my 1L starter...that NOT being my case though...I am wondering what this 1L starter will have once it finishes out? Will it still reach the 150'ish billion that a 1L typically yields, but take longer to get there?

2.) Should I let this go and fully ferment and then decant off liquid and repitch into another fresh 1L starter to really ramp up my #'s?

3.) Should I just abandon this starter and go get a refund and start anew with a fresh pack.

4.) With 5 gal batches...using wyeast and white labs yeasts...is 1L enough or should I go for broke and just always use 2L starters?


Tx in advance, and I am REALLY learning a lot from these forums! And having a sh*t ton of fun along the way!


Brian

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Old 04-24-2011, 01:55 PM   #2
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Im inclinded to go with option 2, basically treat it as a wash, and make a new starter.

...however...

If what your saying is your just purchased this yeast and its over 6 months out of date you really should take that back to the homebrew store and say something about it. Hopefully they are a little considerate of the fact that you at least tried to make a starter out of it instead of sending it back immediatly (they dont have to know you fuond out after the fact).

In anycase, maybe wash, repitch a new starter, give it a smell, use it in some beer. (and perhaps scam a free smackpack )

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Old 04-24-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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I would talk to the shop owner if you indeed just recently bought 2 year old yeast. They should rotate that off the shelves. At the least it should have been discounted and the person buying it should have been informed straight up about the date. That is shady.

I also would keep stepping it up. I've used years old yeast with no ill effects. I have a ranch that I infrequently replate - at least as much as I should - and I've had good results. If the starter smells bad, or tastes bad, you may want to not use the yeast. But if you followed proper sanitation methods and are pitching into good wort, you should be fine.

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Old 04-24-2011, 02:20 PM   #4
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If you make a starter, then the age of a yeast isn't really an issue.

Bobby M did a test on year old stored yeast here; http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/test...bility-126707/

And my LHBS cells outdated tubes and packs of yeast dirt cheap 2-3 dollars each and I usually grab a couple tubes of belgian or other interesting yeast when I am there and shove it in my fridge. and I have never had a problem with one of those tubes.

I usually make a starter but I once pitched a year old tube of Belgian High Gravity yeast directly into a 2.5 gallon batch of a Belgian Dark Strong, and after about 4 days it took off beautifully.
The purpose of a starter is to reproduce any viable cells in a batch of yeast....that;s how we can grow a starter form the dregs in a bottle of beer incrementally...and that beer may be months old.

Even if you have a few still living cells, you can grow them....That's how we can harvest a huge starter (incrementally) from the dregs in a bottle of some commercial beers. You take those few living cells and grow them into more.

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Old 04-24-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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I currently have a 10 gallon batch of APA fermenting, I harvested that yeast from a bottle of Four Peaks Kilt Lifter a few months ago. I also recently took first place in catagory 11 (English Brown Mild) in the HBT comp, I pitched a packet of Nottingham into the beer without even rehydrating and it expired in 2006! Your beer will be fine once your starter is done.

Listen to Revvy, the man knows what he is talking about.

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Old 04-24-2011, 02:34 PM   #6
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Tx for the suggestions/comments guys!

@Priemus: Yup...After I noticed the date...I took the package back up to where I bought it...it was from a big chain liquor barn that just so ALSO happens to sell homebrew supplies. That was my first mistake...should have driven the extra distance to a full homebrew supply store instead of being lazy. At any rate, he told me to go grab another...I did...it is a year old! Nothing newer than that in this particular strain of yeast. So, I commented to the MGR on my way out that even this one was well expired @ 13 months old...but would try it. He said to come back for a refund if it didn't. So...I have a backup 13 month old that I put in the fridge...I guess I'm content...but wont be going back here in the future!

@ Suprchunk: Yup...when I went back to get a replacement...i thumbed through all the stock of liquid yeast and found over 70% of them to be from 2009 and 2010. I also told him this when I left...he didn't act too concerned though...only offered the refund if this one failed. That's what you get for shopping at a Liquor Barn super store as opposed to a true homebrew supply store...lesson learned.

@Revvy: Thanks for the link and words of wisdom.


I think I will let this ride then...ferment out and give it a good sniff/taste...but I was pretty strict in my sanitation process..hopefully I am OK. Then chill/decant off the liquid and repitch into a new 1L starter.

I should have some slanting supplies coming in the mail monday. This may all work out well. Perhaps when I decant off and get ready to repitch into a new starter, I will just inocculate a few slants/tubes and just keep my own stock.

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Old 04-24-2011, 02:37 PM   #7
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Lol, Liquor Barn.

I wouldn't worry about it too much, but if he is that flippant about it I would ask for a refund. He's obviously riding on whatever stock he had as of last year. Did he have any fresher yeast than that around at all? If not I would assume all his stuff is old and order online from now on. That is if you don't have another LHBS around, with fresher stock. Don't want to spend all this time making subpar beer.

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Old 04-24-2011, 08:04 PM   #8
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Yup...he had some newer stuff from January and several from like November of last year...but looks like he doesn't order very often.

I found 2 homebrew stores in my home town, but the one closest to me (8 miles) only stocks a couple varieties of dry yeast...says she wont stock the liquids because they generally expire before she can sell them all...but she did offer to order them for me to save me the shipping and just charge me $7.

The other one I only just found online the other day. It's about a 25 min drive on the other end of town, but when I googled retailers for wyeast and whitelabs...thats when I saw Liquor Barn, and thats 2 miles up the road :-) so got lazy and tried to save my time and gas. This week if the weather dries up, I'll hop on the motorcycle and take a leisurely ride across town and check out the other homebrew store. When I called him...he said he keeps his stock current and has both White labs and Wyeast...so...sounds much better for sure.

I just checked on the starter and wow...it's REALLY kicked off now...clumps of white stuff swirling around everywhere inside that thing. I'm wondering if I'll even need decant this down and repitch in another starter...you think this thing could possibly have enough healthy viable yeast in her now to get a good start on a 5 gal batch? Not a lager...I'm planning for my first all grain, what I thought sounded like a nice English IPA.

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Old 04-24-2011, 08:17 PM   #9
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I've decanted and not. No real difference that I have noticed. Then again I don't make too huge a starter.

And the most I have ever stepped up is twice. Most of the time I go from pitching the package into a starter then straight into my beer. So, mostly one starter. Your mileage may vary, of course.

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Old 04-24-2011, 08:30 PM   #10
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I too planned to just go from the package to this one liter starter and then just decant and pitch, but since this started so slow with this old of a package...just has me wondering if it will have enough active yeast or if I should try once more to further bolster their numbers. Looks like I got a good many swirling around in there now...just don't know if it was able to catch back up and still end up with the same number of yeasts but just taking longer to get there or if my starter will have a significantly lower # as a result of the low # of initially viable yeast in the package.

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