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-   -   Yeast starter with expired yeast - question (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/yeast-starter-expired-yeast-question-66105/)

rockout 05-16-2008 03:19 PM

Yeast starter with expired yeast - question
Hi all,

So I went to my LHBS yesterday in preparation for a Saturday (tomorrow) brew day. They had everything i needed EXCEPT ale yeast (ridiculous, right?). They did, however, have expired European Ale yeast that was half price. So I bought it.

Yesterday afternoon I prepared a starter. Now, I've done this about 4 times before, always with un-expired yeast, and always woke up the next morning to a nicely fermenting airlock. I could even see the yeast action in the beaker.

Today, nothing. No doubt, it's due to the expired yeast, right? Is there any hope for this starter? Should I shake it up to get the yeast going?

I have a couple of smack packs so I have a backup plan, but it'd be nice to get this starter going. Oh, the yeast was stamped "Use by Sep 23 07". So quite some time ago.

Thanks for any advice you might have!

Homercidal 05-16-2008 03:44 PM

I would expect it to do something by now. I hope "expired" doesn't mean, "oops, we lef it on the shelf for 6 weeks before realizing it wasn't in the fridge!"

rockout 05-16-2008 03:56 PM

Should I shake it up or just leave it alone?

bradsul 05-16-2008 03:58 PM

I've never used one that old but I've made starters from vials that were a month or two out of date with no problem (just pitched a lager starter from an expired yeast last week in fact). They usually have much greater lag times in my experience so I would shake the heck out of it and give it some more time.

Give it a really good smell before you actually use it though, if it at all smells bad don't use it.

Cugel 05-16-2008 06:19 PM

I would give it a few days before worrying.

I had an old smack-pack dated to expire May 08 (assuming viability of 1 year) so I recently decided to use it. It took 4-6 days (I forget which) before the pack started to inflate to any serious degree. I then pitched into a starter. The starter itself led to an airborne airlock overnight last night - after pitching at 10.00 pm.

The starter smelled ok, but the "beer" I poured off before pitching the yeast slurry tasted fairly bad (no I didn't drink it - just tasted), but I kinda expected that :)

rockout 05-16-2008 07:09 PM

Well, I'm brewing tomorrow night - if the starter still isn't visibly doing something by then, should I risk it and throw it in anyway? Or should I go with one of my back-up smackpacks?

All opinions welcome.

bradsul 05-16-2008 07:32 PM

With it being that old, if it hasn't started by then I'd say it's not going to. I'd go with the smack packs in that case.

rockout 05-17-2008 03:20 PM

Well, still no activity this morning, and we brew tonight. I guess that's the last time I buy yeast that's been expired for 7 months. Live and learn.

rockout 05-17-2008 09:57 PM

Hey, so we're about to start brewing, and my expired yeast is showing signs of life. Out of my standard airlock we're seeing bubbles about every 2 minutes. Can I pitch this tonight safely?

bradsul 05-17-2008 10:48 PM

Does it smell ok? Also since it was so old I would pull a tiny amount of the starter liquid and taste it. It won't taste like beer but it shouldn't taste bad either. If it smells or tastes bad I would dump it and use your other yeast.

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