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Old 02-05-2013, 02:20 AM   #1
burnsjz
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Default Problems with white labs yeast

I have one for the more experienced brewers out there. I have been brewing all grain for about two years. Early on I used either dry yeast such as Safale or nottingham. With kits from Midwest supplies I would sometimes get the Wyeast smack packs and had wonderful results. Most homebrew stores in the areas that I have lived only stock white labs. I tried several batches just pitching the vial directly into the wort. First batch, undrinkably nasty. It had a rotten flavor like dead yeast and over intense sulfur flavors. Dumped it out (yeah, it was that bad...I'm pretty cheap and won't dump it unless its absolutely undrinkable). I figured it was temperature (too hot as I live in the south and am too cheap to get a fermentation chiller) so we're talking ale yeast temperatures in the low 70's. I tried all kinds of things to cool it and got two more dumped batches. Went back to the dry yeast....just fine. Even at high temps. Then I got brave and made an 800 ml starter with the WL abbey ale yeast and made a thick dubbel. Best beer I've made to date. Repeated that recipe two weeks ago and its disgusting again (not dump it out disgusting but not far from it). I did have a splosion that put beer on my ceiling but didn't think that would ruin the batch.

Is there some special trick to making white labs yeast work well or should I just special order the Wyeast? Any insight would be wonderful.

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Old 02-05-2013, 05:59 AM   #2
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Well, you should be using a starter with WL or Wyeast in most cases. In almost no circumstances is there enough yeast in a WL vial to make a 1.050+ beer without stressing the yeast, there's just not enough yeast in the vial and there is always some time between the harvest and when you use it, all during which cells are dying off.

How old were the WL vials you used?

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Old 02-05-2013, 09:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burnsjz
I have one for the more experienced brewers out there. I have been brewing all grain for about two years. Early on I used either dry yeast such as Safale or nottingham. With kits from Midwest supplies I would sometimes get the Wyeast smack packs and had wonderful results. Most homebrew stores in the areas that I have lived only stock white labs. I tried several batches just pitching the vial directly into the wort. First batch, undrinkably nasty. It had a rotten flavor like dead yeast and over intense sulfur flavors. Dumped it out (yeah, it was that bad...I'm pretty cheap and won't dump it unless its absolutely undrinkable). I figured it was temperature (too hot as I live in the south and am too cheap to get a fermentation chiller) so we're talking ale yeast temperatures in the low 70's. I tried all kinds of things to cool it and got two more dumped batches. Went back to the dry yeast....just fine. Even at high temps. Then I got brave and made an 800 ml starter with the WL abbey ale yeast and made a thick dubbel. Best beer I've made to date. Repeated that recipe two weeks ago and its disgusting again (not dump it out disgusting but not far from it). I did have a splosion that put beer on my ceiling but didn't think that would ruin the batch.

Is there some special trick to making white labs yeast work well or should I just special order the Wyeast? Any insight would be wonderful.
I've had nothing but great results with WL yeast. So either veganbrewer is right and you're getting old yeast, or there's something in your process that needs adjusting.

By the way, you can get effective temp control for less than $10 (check out swamp cooler threads here) and revolutionize your beer. Are you really that cheap?
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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I'm pretty cheap. I'll check the swamp cooler thing out. I have had good luck when making starters. I guess the last batch explosion probably just resulted in significant amounts of yeast being blown out or something. Thanks for the advice!

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Old 02-05-2013, 01:07 PM   #5
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Without a starter you may not have been pitching enough yeast to get it "done" in that much time. It helps to keep it cool. And yes, temperature is very important to yeast, dry or liquid. Keeping a yeast cooler can allow it to work slower without producing as much off flavors. And make sure you get FRESH yeast. Liquid yeast is a LOT more susceptible to time and temp.

mrmalty.com has a great yeast calculator that can tell you how big a starter you need.

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Old 02-05-2013, 02:06 PM   #6
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I agree that it's not the yeast, it is probably your lack of temperature control or something else in your process that is affecting the final product

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