I started an experiment last Sunday evening with a well-past-expiration-date can of Brewferm Kriek that I thought I'd post about, since it seems to be coming along nicely, if the hydro samples are any indication. If you don't know about Brewferm kits, they're 3.3lb no-boil kits in cans that sometimes require additional sugar, other times just an addition of hot water. This particular recipe is for the Brewferm Kriek, a sour cherry beer, and it promised 10 liters of beer (just under 3 gallons).
I got this particular can at my LHBS for $10, because the best-by-date was late 2006, but I thought I'd take the chance. Instead of using the specified 500g (~1lb) table sugar, I used a pound of Light Pilsen dry malt extract, and then I replaced the yeast with a fresh packet of Safbrew T-58 (a Belgian-style dry yeast).
My OG was a bit higher than the specified 1.053 (I got 1.065), likely because of the DME, and the fact that I am fermenting in a Mr. Beer keg, so I could only put in 9 total liters of liquid. I rehydrated and pitched the entire packet of T-58 even though this was double-pitching according to Mr. Malty, mainly because I wanted to see if I could minimize the spiciest of the esters that Belgian yeasts tend to produce. The yeasties really took off within 6 hours. The average temperature started at 70 and is down to about 63 right now.
The official instructions call for sitting in primary until it hits 1.010, then 8 weeks in bottles to really develop the flavor. Because of my higher OG, I have changed up the schedule: When I get to about 1.020, I will rack to a secondary fermenter with some Oregon Fruit Company tart cherries, in order to increase the cherry flavor somewhat. It'll sit on the cherries for 2 weeks, then I'll bottle in small (7- or 8-oz bottles) - a little Kriek goes a long way, in my experience. From what I've read around the internets, this particular kit tastes good after at least 3 months in bottles.
By Tuesday evening, the SG was down to 1.036, and it was down to 1.024 yesterday. I expect to be racking it to secondary tomorrow and harvesting the yeast for another project - the T-58 really took off!
So, I guess the moral of the story is that this is an experimental beer. I'm only making 2.5 gallons of it, and if it fails, I won't feel like I'm out very much.