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Old 02-06-2011, 03:51 PM   #1
eastoak
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Default old wyeast smack pack

last night i brewed a hefewiezen and realized at the last minute that the smack pack had a date of sept 21 2010, not good. since i had the wort already boiling it was too late to stop that process so i made a starter. according to mr malty that pack has a 10% viability and i would need to pitch 14 of them into my 1.050 wort. ha. anyway, i put the wort into my carboy with an airlock and have to wait until More Beer opens at 10am today to buy more yeast. the starter did not look too vigorous this morning after sitting on the stirplate overnight. is this delay in pitching really bad or just merely not good? had i pitched the old smack pack, underpitching, what could i have expected to get? oh, the airlock might have had some kind of activity last night, maybe O2 coming out of solution? i hope. i did star san the carboy pretty good and there were still a few suds in the bottle when i poured in the wort.

5.5 lb german pils
5 lb wheat flakes

1 oz 5.3% tettnager 60min
.25 oz 5.3% tettnager 15min

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Old 02-06-2011, 03:54 PM   #2
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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And my LHBS cells outdated tubes and packs of yeast dirt cheap 2-3 dollars each and I usually grab a couple tubes of belgian or other interesting yeast when I am there and shove it in my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.

With any stored, old yeast you just need first to apply the "sniff test" if it smell bad, especially if it smells like week old gorilla poop in a diaper left on the side of the road in the heat of summer.

Then make a starter, and if it takes off you are fine. 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.

If yeast can be grown from a tiny amount that has been encased in amber for 45 million years, 45 million year old yeast ferments amber ale we really don't need to sweat too much about how old a yeast is, if it's properly stored.

Really even with "old yeast" if there is a few cells, they will reproduce. In your case it may just take awhile.

I know other folks on here who have gone a couple years with harvested yeast.

Bottom line, I think you're stressing for nothing. Just relax.

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Old 02-06-2011, 04:13 PM   #3
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cool, thanks revvy. i have the starter in the fridge and i'm starting to see the yeast settling out. at this early stage in my brewing career, this is my 4th batch, every brew is still an experiment. my first hefe (extract) tastes more like a brown ale so guess what i call it? that's right, a brown ale. roll with the punches.

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Old 02-06-2011, 05:26 PM   #4
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did you smack the pack? if so did it swell?

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Old 02-06-2011, 06:27 PM   #5
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i smacked it and 4-5 hrs later very mild swelling. i pitched what i had and pitching another packet in a bit.

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Old 04-18-2011, 02:10 PM   #6
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I've already posted this in a few other threads - I just used around a year-old smackpack of Pacman (refridgerated the entire time). I made a 1L starter without allowing the pack to fully "swell" and put it on a stirplate for about 18 hours before pitching the entire thing. I've had a slow fermentation so far, but I'm attributing that to the age of the smackpack (which unfortunately, Revvy, I didn't do the "sniff-test").

I'll report back my progress - lunchtime today will be around 24 hours since pitching. I've heard that some old wyeast packs can take up to 37-40 hours before any sign of serious fermentation...but those were without starters. I'm trying to figure out why, even with a starter, my Pacman is taking its sweet time. My only guess is its age and lower # of viable yeasties.

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Old 04-18-2011, 03:45 PM   #7
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Under pitching a hefewiezen is not a bad thing. In fact, it is frequently done as the stress causes the yeast to produce more of the ester compounds that impart the clove and banana flavors for which hefes are famous.

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Old 04-18-2011, 05:26 PM   #8
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Update from previous post - finally some krauzen is starting to build. I'm guessing I should've given it more time on the stirplate to re-activate the old yeast.

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