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Old 05-27-2010, 02:50 AM   #1
karbinator
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Default REALLY old yeast vials....should I?

Found some white lab vials (5 to be exact) in the
far reaches of my fridge today. They've been stationary
since their purchase.....in late 2008 !!!!
Anyhow, I was wondering how far back you guys have
re-animated your vial ? Should I just crack them open, and
give them a smell to decide?

Thanks,
Karb

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Old 05-27-2010, 02:52 AM   #2
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Bobby M recently 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And my LHBS cells outdated tubes and packs of yeast dirt cheap 2-3 dollars each and I usually grab a couple tubes of belgian or other interesting yeast when I am there and shove it in my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.

Same with jarred yeast.

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.

we just need to think in terms of making starters. Viability isn't really an issue if you are reproducing a lot of healthy cells. Which is what you are doing when you make a starter.....

Really even with "old yeast" if there is a few cells, they will reproduce.

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Old 05-27-2010, 01:59 PM   #4
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I have really gotten to be a stickler about using starters and making sure to pitch the proper amount of very healthy yeast. I would have no problem using a vial of outdated yeast. I would create a starter of a little lower than normal OG, for a starter. Maybe 1.035 and see if you can coax the healthy ones into reproducing and then slowly step it up over time with 1.040 starter wort until you get the desired amount of yeast. Don't forget to use nutrient and if you don't have a stir plate, shake the crap out of the starter whenever you can!

This is the exact same protocol that i use for bottle harvesting. I also find that it is imperative for the temperature of your yeast vial to be as close as possible to the temperature of the starter wort. My lag times in starters are vastly reduced this way.

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Old 05-27-2010, 02:37 PM   #5
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agree with what's been said. just expect them to take a few days to get going in your starter wort.

in addition to going with a somewhat lower OG starter, go with a smaller volume. where you would often pitch a fresh vial into 1.5 L, i'd probably not use more than 500 ml for the first round, probably even less. then step it up.

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Old 05-27-2010, 02:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzzCraft View Post
agree with what's been said. just expect them to take a few days to get going in your starter wort.

in addition to going with a somewhat lower OG starter, go with a smaller volume. where you would often pitch a fresh vial into 1.5 L, i'd probably not use more than 500 ml for the first round, probably even less. then step it up.
right on, you don't want to underpitch your starters either. 16 oz or 500 ml is a great place to start when you just don't know what to expect.
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