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Old 07-18-2011, 03:41 PM   #1
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Default Mail order yeast in summer = bad idea?

My last Northern Brewer order included 2 liquid yeast packages - one vial of White Labs and one smack-pack of Wyeast. I had some trouble with both.

I pitched the White Labs directly into the fermenter and itl never really got going. I ended up finding another vial at a LHBS and repitching with a better result.

With this experience in mind, I made a starter for the Wyeast smack-pack. And it took a long time to get going...about a week. And my fermentation ended up working out OK.

Because I am a slow learner (and because the yeast I wanted was unavailable locally), I included yeast in my next Northern Brewer order. I got a vial of WLP810. Since I am planning on brewing my first lager this weekend, and am planning on making my first 10 gallon batch, I knew I'd need a lot of yeast so I started making a starter this weekend for brewing next weekend. And so far I haven't gotten much action from my yeast. I mail-ordered because I couldn't get the yeast locally, but I've ask my nearest LHBS to order some for me.

Has anyone else had trouble with mail order liquid yeast this summer? I have been pretty happy with NB as a source for homebrew supplies, and they package yeast in an envelope with an icepack (and I get it in the fridge ASAP upon receipt), but I am not sure that is enough.

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Old 07-18-2011, 03:41 PM   #2
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Make a starter....

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Old 07-18-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
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I have from NB. It arrived hot to the touch. I know they offer( for additional fee) ice packs, but it was not enough. +1 on the making a starter

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Old 07-18-2011, 04:13 PM   #4
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I have ordered liquid yeast during summer several times and it's always worked. I just consider the package older than the date on the package when trying to determine viability/pitching rates/starter sizes.

As for them starting slow, next time you make a starter try chilling the starter wort all the way down to about 60* F, aerate it, and then just pitch the yeast straight from the fridge (don't let it warm up) but smack it first if it's a Wyeast smack pack (there are nutrients in the pouch). Then just let it go at room temp. It might help it start a little faster. You can do the same thing with the actual batch of beer too: chill it to ~60* F, aerate, and then decant/pitch your starter straight from the fridge (don't let it warm up).

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Old 07-18-2011, 05:09 PM   #5
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As stated - the starter is a must regardless of the handling situation.

I also mail order my liquid yeast. My advice is to be smart about where and when you are ordering. One issue is freshness (or turnover), the other is transit time. I order from an online shop that I can get Fedex ground shipments from in 2 days. I always order on a Monday, and I make sure to include ice packs with the order. The ice pack is not frozen when I get the package, but the bags and yeast are still cool.

Joe

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Old 07-18-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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We never give yeast enough credit. There shouldn't be any reason they die at summer temperatures. Before we had refrigeration did yeast migrate north for the summer?

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Old 07-18-2011, 05:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfowler1 View Post
As stated - the starter is a must regardless of the handling situation.

I also mail order my liquid yeast. My advice is to be smart about where and when you are ordering. One issue is freshness (or turnover), the other is transit time. I order from an online shop that I can get Fedex ground shipments from in 2 days. I always order on a Monday, and I make sure to include ice packs with the order. The ice pack is not frozen when I get the package, but the bags and yeast are still cool.

Joe
This.

Order from a source that will ensure home delivery within 2 days and get an ice pack. I've found anything over 2 days in the summer, even with an ice pack, will be warm upon arrival.

It took me some searching, but I found an East Coast supplier that gets it to my door within 2 days ground shipping.

I did have an issue with sluggish yeast on one occassion. I always make starters, but the starter took a while to get going and once pitched the fermentation seemed rather sluggish as well. The yeast was only a couple months old but just not the performance I've seen with that strain in the past.

Could have just been the vial itself, every fermentation is different, but lately I've been taking the 40min. drive to the LHBS to be on the safe side. He orders me whatever I want if he doesn't have it.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:23 PM   #8
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I just fed the fishes with a Stella Artois clone kit that came from a location in the South. It came with White Labs yeast in a cold pack. Brewed it 3 days ago. Pitched the yeast directly at about 76°. After 24 hrs.: No activity. Stirred vigorously with my paddle. Yesterday: Still no activity. Decided to start some harvested Saflager S23 last night. This morning (3 days after brewing), I checked on it and it had little white fuzzy things floating on the surface and a sour smell. Checked the gravity -- no change from 3 days ago. Taste: Nasty. No sense wasting the S23 on that batch.

Lessons learned: 1) Consider dry yeast when ordering on line in the summer time; 2) Always use a starter to verify the viability of the yeast and ensure a large quantity of cells for a quick start.

BTW, I agree that yeast can withstand normal warm summer temperatures. Unfortunately, when it is sitting in a box inside a UPS truck, it is more likely experiencing HOT temperatures that can kill most if not all the cells. If you only have a few cells going into 5 gal. you are headed for trouble.

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Old 07-18-2011, 05:50 PM   #9
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I just got my first infection in about 20 brews. I used a WLP 500 vial delivered in May (which wasn't summer, but was still quite hot out here.) I ordered two ice packs with it, but the ice packs were no longer cold by the time I got it. The yeast activity was much lower than usual. I don't think I'll be ordering yeast in the summer anymore.

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Old 07-18-2011, 05:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilDog2000 View Post
I just fed the fishes with a Stella Artois clone kit that came from a location in the South. It came with White Labs yeast in a cold pack. Brewed it 3 days ago. Pitched the yeast directly at about 76°. After 24 hrs.: No activity. Stirred vigorously with my paddle. Yesterday: Still no activity. Decided to start some harvested Saflager S23 last night. This morning (3 days after brewing), I checked on it and it had little white fuzzy things floating on the surface and a sour smell. Checked the gravity -- no change from 3 days ago. Taste: Nasty. No sense wasting the S23 on that batch.

Lessons learned: 1) Consider dry yeast when ordering on line in the summer time; 2) Always use a starter to verify the viability of the yeast and ensure a large quantity of cells for a quick start.

BTW, I agree that yeast can withstand normal warm summer temperatures. Unfortunately, when it is sitting in a box inside a UPS truck, it is more likely experiencing HOT temperatures that can kill most if not all the cells. If you only have a few cells going into 5 gal. you are headed for trouble.
Ah, Gotchya! I still think they should survive, but I am not as confident that they would

Starter start starter with liquid yeast! especially after ordering it in the mail or you have any other worries. I wash all my yeast so it helps keep a fridge full or varieties in even as small as half pint jars. Just stepped a 1/2 pint jar up to over 2 liters so I can use half of it in a batch of beer and half of it in a sourdough experiment
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