Pitching past White Labs 'best buy' date.

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jiggs_casey

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I brewed earlier today. I happen to have to the empty tube sitting next to me and noticed that the best buy date is Dec. 19, 2009. I'm trying not to think about it too much but, if I don't ask, it will bug me.

Here's my concern... The recipe was originally going to be a hefe-weizen, using wlp300, however, they didn't have it at the store. So, I changed my mind last minute to try and turn it into a raspberry wheat. I grabbed wlp011 (european ale yeast) instead. Now, I'm worried that I won't get a good fermentation from the old yeast, which will leave my beer sweet. Right? The problem with that is that I was counting on racking this onto raspberries later, which would sweeten the beer already.

Should I consider buying another vial? Or, am I just looking at a slow start to my fermentation?

Thanks!
 

toman8r

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The yeast pitching rate calculator at mrmalty.com can calculate the viability of your yeast by using the production date, which for White Labs I believe is 4 months before the best by date. Unfortunately your vial only had 10% viability according to the calculator (possibly less than 10%, when I play around with old dates I either get 10% or 1%, nothing in between). I would pitch a new vial as soon as possible as you drastically underpitched. You are correct about underpitching - it often leads to underattenuation and an overly sweet beer.
You should let you LHBS know that they sold you expired yeast. Although I suppose it is also your responsibility to check to make sure the yeast has not expired, it is something they should really be doing too - a newbie brewer probably has no idea they expire so quickly, or even at all! They might even give you some new yeast for free.
Depending on the gravity and volume of your beer, pitching only one vial is likely not enough. Use the pitching rate calculator to determine exactly how much yeast you need to pitch - you will find that with most beers a starter is necessary if using liquid yeast.

Racking your beer onto rasberries will not make it sweet. The yeast will ferment the sugars from the raspberries, further increasing the alcohol content of the beer.
 

Synovia

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Racking onto fruit won't sweeten beer. Almost everything sweet in the fruit gets fermented out. In fact, racking onto fruit generally makes a beer drier
 

rwinzing

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I have used expired yeast in the past and had little issue. If your fermentation doesn't start in the 72 hour time frame pitch more yeast. You will most likely be ok.
 

Splangy

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I have used expired yeast in the past and had little issue. If your fermentation doesn't start in the 72 hour time frame pitch more yeast. You will most likely be ok.
Yup, one of the LHBS usually has a few expired vials of white labs for 1/2 price. I have used more than a few and never had an issue. Just make a starter a few days earlier than you normally would to allow some extra time for lag.
 

R2-D2

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Last December, I pitched a month over vial of WLP300 onto a Hefe with no problem. Took a bit over 20 hrs to start fermentation but once it did it chugged along. Ended up around 1.013 which is the higher end of the spectrum for a German Weiss, still acceptable.
 

BitSlinger84

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This morning I woke to a starter that still didn't krausen so I searched and found this thread. I figured I'd throw in my two cents. I thought I could step up a "Best By Aug 4th" Cal Ale I had laying around for my "Broke A$$ Brown" I was planning with stuff I had laying around. After 24 hours the starter still looked pretty much like fresh wort. I stopped the stir plate for a while to see what would settle but no luck. I think the yeast may be lost. Of course with Mr. Malty telling me I have 10% viability at best this is no surprise to me. My conclusion is that using a yeast this old is a roll of the dice. There is no guarantee you can even bring it back with a starter let alone direct pitching it to a batch with confidence that it will pick up.
 

leaf

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How big a starter? Nutes? Given clean enough procedures, I don't think a vial at 10%, or even .01% could ever be lost completely.
 

jtejedor

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This morning I woke to a starter that still didn't krausen so I searched and found this thread. I figured I'd throw in my two cents. I thought I could step up a "Best By Aug 4th" Cal Ale I had laying around for my "Broke A$$ Brown" I was planning with stuff I had laying around. After 24 hours the starter still looked pretty much like fresh wort. I stopped the stir plate for a while to see what would settle but no luck. I think the yeast may be lost. Of course with Mr. Malty telling me I have 10% viability at best this is no surprise to me. My conclusion is that using a yeast this old is a roll of the dice. There is no guarantee you can even bring it back with a starter let alone direct pitching it to a batch with confidence that it will pick up.
I have been using vials that are a little older then that lately and they manage to take off. One thing I have been doing as recommended by others is to make a real small starter for the first step, like 250 ml. Then start stepping up from there. Its kind of annoying cuz I usually end up doing like 4 or 5 steps sometimes but the yeast is plentiful and healthy by the time I am ready to pitch it into beer.
 

BitSlinger84

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I let it go for another night and surprisingly woke to a krausen. Exciting stuff. I began with 1.5 liter of 1.040. It was obviously too much for the little guys to take off right away. I turned off the stir plate and am going to let them sit for the work day so their glycogen reserves replenish before I cold crash, decant, repeat. I just hope I didn't burn them out by starting them off with too much to handle. It makes me wonder how old is too old now.
 
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