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Old 12-12-2010, 08:33 PM   #1
Brewer_opie
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Default Might have used non-viable yeast

So I brewed my latest brew and think I might have pitch non-viable yeast (it was a smack pack (WY Scottish Ale 1078) I had, but it might have been a little old). The wort OG was 1064 and I pitch to the wort at about 60 degrees. It's been 24 hours and there is little to no activity. Should I get more yeast and add? Or should I wait it out? The local HB shop (which is in a garden and nursery center) has limited yeast selection...so, it would mean a 3hr round trip to the nearest real HB shop to get new yeast (I can't justify paying more in shipping than the yeast itself).

Any concerns to be aware of with old yeast...i.e things that would want me to rack to another fermentor before re-pitching yeast?

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Old 12-12-2010, 10:06 PM   #2
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Just wait it out a little longer. I'm sure your yeast was plenty viable. You just grossly underpitched. One smack pack is way too little for a 1.064 brew. As long as you aerated it well enough, things will begin within a few days.

Next time make a starter for liquid yeasts. Or use 2 smack packs.
Check out this calculator to see how much yeast you should be pitching.
Mr. Malty Pitching Calculator

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Old 12-12-2010, 11:08 PM   #3
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Old pack means less cells than normal. Therefore it will take longer to reproduce to the right population = long lag time.

ALWAYS make a starter with liquid yeast.

ALWAYS have a packet of dry yeast in the fridge for emergencies (even if it's just to stave off panic attacks like the one now). Dry yeast will be viable for years in the fridge. It looses about 4% viability per year, at fridge temps, so after 10 years, half the yeast should still be OK.

Provided you aerated well, and had good sanitation, it will be fine. Report back when it has been 3 days.

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Old 12-12-2010, 11:55 PM   #4
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I wouldnt worry. I had a similar thing happen with my last brew. I pitched a white labs that was 2 weeks past the date on the vial. I hadnt noticed the date till i was opening the vial to pitch it. It took a full 48 hours for any signs of activity. The beer took longer that expected to finish, but turned out fine. Just be patient. I now intend to always use starters and to check the date when i purchase the yeast. Cheers!

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Old 12-13-2010, 12:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder View Post
Old pack means less cells than normal. Therefore it will take longer to reproduce to the right population = long lag time.

ALWAYS make a starter with liquid yeast.

ALWAYS have a packet of dry yeast in the fridge for emergencies (even if it's just to stave off panic attacks like the one now). Dry yeast will be viable for years in the fridge. It looses about 4% viability per year, at fridge temps, so after 10 years, half the yeast should still be OK.

Provided you aerated well, and had good sanitation, it will be fine. Report back when it has been 3 days.
you say always but does White labs need a starter? I've always read that they don't. <---Noob
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumming102 View Post
you say always but does White labs need a starter? I've always read that they don't. <---Noob
The main goal of a starter is to raise the cell count. Since a White Labs vial has roughly the same population as a Wyeast smack pack. And the smack pack has the added function of checking viability. Why wouldn't you be making a starter?
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Old 12-14-2010, 04:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumming102 View Post
you say always but does White labs need a starter? I've always read that they don't. <---Noob
Yes, you can pitch it straight as the pack says you can. Making a starter does 3 things for you:

1) Increases the cell count.
2) Tells you that you have good yeast (they didn't die during transport or storage)
3) Gets the beer off to a quicker start preventing other bacteria from taking hold on your sweet wort.

If you get in the habit of making a starter, it will become a simple task.

But, if you want, keep pitching straight from the vial and worrying that it's not working after 24 hours.
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:33 AM   #8
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All,
Thanks for all the input. I think no stater, combined with a high OG and unusually cooler basement led to a longer lag than normal. I do have fermentation chugging along, slower than I'd like, but working. I think the cool temp is keeping activity slow too. I'll keep the starter tip on the front of my mind. Again, thanks for the input... Prost!

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