Anyone have problems storing liquid yeast in your fridge door?

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JP_BeerFan

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Had a general question for you all about storing liquid packs in the door. I'm trying to troubleshoot what's going on w my batch.

I have a mead batch, the BOMM (Bray's One Month Mead) recipie/protocol, using Wyeast 1388. Recipe suggests that fermentation is usually done in 7-8 days, with the mead ready to drink in a month. My first try, the pack barely swelled after a couple hrs, I thought it's probably OK, pitched it anyway. Fermentation started slow, and has been slow since. Its in a controlled 68F ferm chamber. Last check was about 20 days, it was still 1.018. It's been almost 40 days now, and its still bubbling slowly, with whispy floating yeast.

So, one theory is a very low population in that pack, for a serious underpitch. Another is, maybe the pack was dead, I imagined the slight swelling, and I've got some completely different yeast, maybe from the honey.

The question about the door... I think I read a comment or two about the door being a bad place, due to the door maybe not as cold. I have a decent logging thermometer (from Inkbird) that I put in the spot, seems my door is well insulated as it stays pretty much the same temp as the rest of the fridge.

I'm wondering about the effect of opening and closing the door, if the constant swirling around the pack and possibly killing off yeast cells. The pack was in my fridge about 3 months before use. It was a few weeks past its date.

So, what do you all think, has anyone had or heard of yeast pack fails related to storing in the door?
 

IslandLizard

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It was a few weeks past its date.
I'd say that's the issue. It's 6 months old yeast on the best used by date.
And it has been transported at least twice, under unknown conditions. It being sluggish after being smacked is also an indication of the yeast not being optimally fresh. Making a yeast starter before pitching would have been the best way to revive it and increase cell count.

On most, if not all modern fridges the shelves in the door are probably as good as the shelves in the back. Yeah, there maybe some small fluctuations after opening the door, but they recover fast when the fridge cycles back on. Besides, the yeast pack has some thermal mass to resist change, especially WYeast packs containing the nutrient pouch. All modern fridges use forced cold air, coming from behind the back panel's evaporator in the fridge itself, or from the freezer side, recirculating through the whole fridge.

How big is the batch, and what was the OG?
Did you add any nutrients to your mead? That's an important part of making meads too, as honey is mostly devoid of any nutrients itself.
 

IslandLizard

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The better place to store yeast packs is inside a small closed box together with one or more ice packs. Store on a regular shelf but not directly in front of any cold air supply vents in the back. The ice packs don't have to be or remain frozen, they just add thermal mass keeping temps more consistent inside the box, while the surrounding box itself prevents cold air to directly blow onto the yeast.

I store extra yeast from overbuilt yeast starters inside small (4 and 8 oz) mason jars ("jelly jars") inside a few boxes in the kitchen fridge.
 
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JP_BeerFan

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Its a 1 gallon batch, was about 1.095. I was in a hurry, and it's a small batch, so I rolled the dice. It seemed to start, if a bit slowly, but never was strong. At least it didn't smell bad... so I didn't repitch it. There's another thread where I covered the details.

I did the BOMM recipe/protocol thing, which involves a lot of nutrient, in stepped fashion. Should have well taken care of that. My Fermaid O was kinda caked up from water absorption, I need to come up with a good, sealed container and dessicant solution for that in the future. But after talking with a White Labs rep, they said that shouldn't degrade it much, possible, more likely to have microbe growth and possible contamination issues instead.

Yeah, I was lucky to have a logging thermometer, and rule out major temp swings or hot spots. I do notice 2-4 deg swings though. Another family fridge I checked was more like 1-2 deg. Fridge hasn't been too packed, which has caused areas to get too cold and freeze, probably warm spots as well. You gotta seriously block that airflow to cause that, in most fridges. Great idea for creating a more temp stable space, with the box and thermal mass, BTW.

I just wondered if the amount of opening and closing the door over 3 months (!) might do to those dormant yeast cells. I'd guess just resting quietly vs swirling them around in the solution many hundreds of times would result in more of them able to wake up again. But, I have no idea... If that can degrade liquid yeasts, it would be an idea to keep it out of the door and on a shelf.
 
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