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Old 08-21-2012, 08:32 PM   #1
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Default Using very old smackpacks - starter steps ?

I have two old Ringwood 1187 smackpacks. One is dated Aug 2011 (!) and the other is a more reasonable November 2011. Since I' m not in any hurry to brew due to the weather being very nice (I use the water bath technique for temperature regulation), I'm tempted to smack them, watch if they swell at all and step the starters to get me to a reasonable level.

I was thinking about 200ml, 600ml and 1,8L, harvest slurry or pitch whole into brew. I'll use both packs for the first step, unless one of them smells sour or doesn't inflate at all*. I'm not really used to stepping up starters, but I want to brew something like a 15L batch of ordinary bitter, so 1.035 to 1.038 OG. MrMalty says that I should have around 100B cells to ferment the bitter.

If I estimate that I have something like 50B cells viable (25% viable) and use my stepping schedule, I should have 136B per billybrew.com spreadsheet, since I won't use O2.

Anything fishy with that ?

* I know that wyeast states that inflation isn't a sign that the yeast is viable or not, but in my very limited experience, a smackpack that doesn't inflate is a bad smackpack.

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Old 08-21-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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Go to the yeastcalc.com site and use that to guide the steps you need to take.

Also, I would use a stirplate for this (with a flask). If you don't have one, make/buy one.

When I do stepped starters (far easier to get the cell count needed that way) I have it on the stirplate for 24 hours, chill for 24 hours (in the fridge), decant the spent starter and pour in fresh starter and put back on the stirplate for 24 hours. Then repeat for as many steps as needed. Usually I can get my cell count in two steps, using my 2L flask (so no more than that in it).

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Old 08-21-2012, 08:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
Go to the yeastcalc.com site and use that to guide the steps you need to take.
I went to the site and it seems to use exactly the same formula that MrMalty uses for the yeast viability, which is, in my eperience, on the ultra cautious side of things. Not to restart the whole starter or not debate, but I've had good success brewing low gravity beer with old slurries and packs without any lag time or unhealthy fermentation off flavours. Maybe I'm just lucky, or cannot taste the byproducts , so I very much doubt that a pack that has never seen temperatures higher than 3C, even for a whole year, will only yield a billion viable cells.

Also, buying/making a stirplate isn't a bad idea, but isn't in the plans right now. I just want to try my hand at not wasting 22$ worth of yeast and get something out of it , plus I just pitch from slurry and use dry yeast much too often to justify the expense.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:00 PM   #4
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Then why even ask for advice????

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:08 PM   #5
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LOL. I was waiting for that one. I was just asking if the volumes for the starter steps were reasonable for somebody without a striplate and without O2 in regards to the age of the packs. Maybe I should add a step ? Do you have any experience using year old smackpacks, especially in regards to their viability ? Because if you can vouch for MrMalty's viability calculations, which are absolutely identical to the ones used in the site you gave me, I'm all ears and will add a step.

Sorry that I don't buy something new everytime someone suggests that I do.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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I always use my stirplate for my starters, using yeast of different ages (nothing that old yet) with success. I also use pure O2 to oxygenate my wort before pitching the slurry (I decant the final spent starter and pitch a thick yeast slurry).

Considering how many yeast cells you end up with at the end of a fermentation, even using the sites, with their settings, you won't over-pitch.

If I was using that old of yeast, I'd be damned sure to use enough O2 to help them along. I'd also make sure the starters were of the right level. You might be ok with the sizes, if you're at least doing intermittent shaking of the starter. If you're doing nothing, then you'll fall short by a larger margin. In which case, you might as well toss the yeast and buy a new packet to use.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfr1111 View Post
LOL. I was waiting for that one. I was just asking if the volumes for the starter steps were reasonable for somebody without a striplate and without O2 in regards to the age of the packs. Maybe I should add a step ? Do you have any experience using year old smackpacks, especially in regards to their viability ? Because if you can vouch for MrMalty's viability calculations, which are absolutely identical to the ones used in the site you gave me, I'm all ears and will add a step.

Sorry that I don't buy something new everytime someone suggests that I do.
According to yeast calc your Aug. pack has exactly 1% viability of 1B cells left.

IMO I would treat this as if you were harvesting yeast from a bottle and start small, like the first step should be 100ml and go from there. http://www.yeastcalc.com
You can plug that in as your first step on this site and then proceed to the second and third step accordingly. My theory is not so much trying to grow a bunch of cells quickly but trying to grow healthy cells in a timely manner too big a starter up front may just stress out a bunch of already stressed out yeasties!
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfr1111 View Post

Sorry that I don't buy something new everytime someone suggests that I do.
Mrmalty is not new and "someone" in this case is more like most.

I have used Mrmalty and Yeastcalc. They do give similar results. Yeastcalc makes it easier to figure out the steps. I have very successfully used it to make step starters starting from 6 month + samples of frozen yeast that contain only 5ml yeast to start.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
According to yeast calc your Aug. pack has exactly 1% viability of 1B cells left.

IMO I would treat this as if you were harvesting yeast from a bottle and start small, like the first step should be 100ml and go from there. http://www.yeastcalc.com
You can plug that in as your first step on this site and then proceed to the second and third step accordingly. My theory is not so much trying to grow a bunch of cells quickly but trying to grow healthy cells in a timely manner too big a starter up front may just stress out a bunch of already stressed out yeasties!
Don't forget that I'm pitching two packs. The November one is said to have approximately 10B cells left, so I should, in theory, be starting with 11B. I have smack the two packs just after creating the thread and the November one is behaving just like a fresh pack. Again, inflation isn't a scientific way to measure viability.

Using the site golddigie provided, with such starting numbers, and taking into account the very low number of cells needed to inocculate my wort (I drink weak beer, I know), my schedule seems to overshoot the final cell count needed by more than 50B with intermittent shaking. I'm okay with that, seeing how variable the starting cell count could be.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kh54s10 View Post
Mrmalty is not new and "someone" in this case is more like most.

I have used Mrmalty and Yeastcalc. They do give similar results. Yeastcalc makes it easier to figure out the steps. I have very successfully used it to make step starters starting from 6 month + samples of frozen yeast that contain only 5ml yeast to start.
Golddigie wasn't suggesting I buy MrMalty (is such thing possible ? I think there's an app...), but rather that I buy a stirplate. I'm even quoting MrMalty in the very first post.
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