Tale of two fermentations

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earlytimes

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I brewed on Wednesday, 10 gallons like I always do. Dry stout. Split into two different fermentation buckets. I thought I'd try two different yeasts. Wyeast and Omega. Here it is Friday and the omega test is off and running. Nothing from the Wyeast. I was a little concerned when the smack pack didn't swell up, but used it anyway. I know everyone is going to say give it a few days and double check the lid seal, but I've brewed close to 100 batches over the years and have never had this problem. Full disclosure, both packs were 2 months past the "use by" date - life gets in the way of brewing sometimes!

So now what? Can I take some fermenting wort from the active bucket and add it to the dead bucket? How much? Or should I just buy a new packet of yeast and add that?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

madscientist451

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The easiest thing to do would be to just toss some of the yeast from your active fermentation into your "dead" batch and skip the experiment.
If you have a wine thief, you could collect some of the yeast/trub from the bottom of your bucket.
If you have a LHBS nearby, you could get a couple of packs of dry yeast and toss those in, and continue your comparison experiment. I'd suggest SO4. Windsor or Nottingham. You could push your experiment even more by using something like LOKI if they have it.
I've found that when using Wyeast, its always best to make a starter, unless I'm brewing a really small batch.
 
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earlytimes

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That's a great idea to use a wine thief to get the trub off the bottom of the "good" bucket. I was thinking it would be better to grab some sludge from the bottom instead of just some wort, but couldn't think of a good way to do that without sticking my whole arm down there! I'll probably just do that instead of fighting the crowds today and buying new yeast.

Thanks!
 

monkeymath

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That's a great idea to use a wine thief to get the trub off the bottom of the "good" bucket. I was thinking it would be better to grab some sludge from the bottom instead of just some wort, but couldn't think of a good way to do that without sticking my whole arm down there! I'll probably just do that instead of fighting the crowds today and buying new yeast.

Thanks!
I'd actually recommend the exact opposite. What would healthy yeast be doing at the bottom of the fermentor while the party is still ongoing? Get some of that lovely kräusen in there!
 

Dgallo

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I'd actually recommend the exact opposite. What would healthy yeast be doing at the bottom of the fermentor while the party is still ongoing? Get some of that lovely kräusen in there!
This. You want to harvest the krausen. It’s called top cropping and is your healthiest yeast
 
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earlytimes

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Ahhh... yes. Ale yeast is top fermenting yeast. Makes total sense.

Anyway, to wrap this up and put a bow on it, I transferred a bunch of the Krausen from the good bucket into the bad bucket, and half a day later it was bubbling away. I won't be comparing the two yeasts, but I'll still have 10 gallons of delicious stout at the end of the day.

Thanks again for your help.
 

CascadesBrewer

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BTW, what strains of yeast did you use? Wyeast and Omega are just manufactures and each of them make a number of strains.'

The rule of thumb is that a fresh pack of Wyeast has 100B yeast cells. While this cell count generally works out okay for a 5 gallon/20 L batch of a mid-gravity beer, pitching 200B cells is closer to the "correct" pitch rate. Omega packs start out with more yeast. They used to pack 150B cells, but the new Omega packs have 200B cells (I think). There are different ideas on how fast yeast die off in the package. At the "use by" date, there is a good chance they are down to around 25%, but the Omega pack should still have more cells than the Wyeast pack.

Moving forward, I would recommend you always make a starter with a pack of Wyeast yeast. At least a vitality starter to kick start the yeast and ensure you are pitching a bunch of healthy yeast. With a 6 month old pack, I would strongly recommend you make a starter. In this case, I would make a larger starter to help build up the cells counts. A fresh pack of Omega is in better shape to direct pitch, but a vitality starter will not hurt and a starter at 6 months is strongly recommended.
 
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