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Old 05-05-2010, 03:42 AM   #1
dford
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Default Old White Labs Yeast

I found a couple vials of White Labs British Ale Yeast WLP005 that I forgot about in the back of my frig with Best before dates of Feb-04-10. I just picked up some Sanke kegs and about have them ready to do my first 10 gallon batch so I was wondering should I use them to make a yeast starter or would I be better off picking up some fresh yeast ?


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Old 05-05-2010, 03:44 AM   #2
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if you're really itchin' to brew, go ahead and buy some fresh. you can always make a starter for the old vials and see how that turns out.


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Old 05-05-2010, 04:11 AM   #3
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Make a starter with them; they'll do just fine if they haven't been mistreated.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:42 AM   #4
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I can almost guarantee they will be fine. Manufacturers set the use by dates on products before they expect most if not all will begin to fail. If they set the use by date when say 50% would be defunct, well they'd have a lot of returned product.

So they set the use by date a few intervals of time before they expect any negative product outcomes. I'd say you could probably use the yeast in August and they would still be happy. And since you are using a starter the yeast you will be able to double check.
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:04 PM   #5
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i overlooked the date you posted. feb/04/10 should give you excellent results. like david said, most of these types of products have a fudge factor built in and will perform properly quite a time past the 'best used' date (in my experience). have at it!
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:07 PM   #6
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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And my LHBS cells outdated tubes and packs of yeast dirt cheap 2-3 dollars each and I usually grab a couple tubes of belgian or other interesting yeast when I am there and shove it in my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 yeast viability....

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.

There's nothing wrong with using old yeast at all...and as for cheap, even dry yeast has gone up in price this year. I used to by US-05 for $1.89 as far back as a year ago, now it is over three bucks.
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:07 PM   #7
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I've made starters from Wyeast that expired a year before I used it. I don't think you'll have a problem with a couple of months of expiration.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:35 PM   #8
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If you can culture from a bottle that's been sitting warm on the shelf for who knows how long and get viable yeast, you can definitely use your vial of yeast. Make a starter earlier than usual if you're worried, then you have the time to step it up a bit before pitching.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyzazz View Post
If you can culture from a bottle that's been sitting warm on the shelf for who knows how long and get viable yeast, you can definitely use your vial of yeast. Make a starter earlier than usual if you're worried, then you have the time to step it up a bit before pitching.
Exactly.

I have used yeast from packets and vials that were years old. And BrewTek slants even older. Of course if you want to be sure, and have ample supplies of yeast all the time, invest in some yeast harvesting/slanting equipment.
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:58 PM   #10
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Last year I found a 15 year old Wyeast smack pack in the fridge (1994 date code).

I had just started brewing again after, coincidentally enough, a 15 year layoff in which I:
  • got married,
  • bought a house,
  • raisied two kids,
  • got divorced,
  • yada, yada, yada.

As I started across the kitchen in the direction of the trash can, the wheels in my head started to turn (slowly, very slowly).

"Hmmmm," says I (to myself). "I wonder if this will still make beer?"

I'll spare you all the details but it did, in fact (after making a starter), make beer. A poorly attenuated, overly sweet beer, but beer nonetheless.

So to answer your question:
I wouldn't hesitate to use the expired vial(s) that you have. I would make a starter, but I make a starter with all my brews anyway.

Brew on!

-Steve


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