Oldish Liquid Yeast

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Chris17

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I was planning on using liquid yeast for the first time this weekend. I ordered a custom ingredient kit from 'Get 'er Brewed' including a pack of Wyeast Belgian Witbier 3944. Stupidly I didn't pay for next day delivery and the courier ignored my request to leave the parcel outside, so it was dispatched on Monday, arrived at the post office Wednesday and stayed there until I could pick it up at mid-day on Thursday.

The date of manufacture on the packet was 3rd July 2019 which seemed quite old to me? So last night I tried to make a 500ml starter using 55g of DME. There has been absolutely no activity so far. I know it is early still, but I'm worried the age paired with the few days out of the fridge has killed it off. This weekend is the last chance I'll have to brew before Christmas, so I don't have chance to make any further starters.

What do you guys think? Has anyone got any tips/recommendations?

I was planning on brewing 10 litres of witbier with an OG of 1.051.
 

An Ankoù

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It's not that old and the weather hasn't been warm. It should be fine. Give it time. How warm was your starter medium and how warm is the place where your starter is now/
 

Chris17

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The starter was about 21ºc when I pitched and I'm trying to maintain it at that. I don't have a stir plate so shook it before and after pitching and will continue to give it a bit of a shake when I pass it.
 

An Ankoù

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I haven't got a stir plate either, I do the same as you. All seems as it should be, but it might take a day or two. If no signs in 48 hours from pitching then begin to worry.
 

Grealish

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As An Ankou says give it time. I've revived 40 year old yeast before so a few months shouldn't be anything to worry about
Have you documented this in an old thread somewhere? If not, can you tell us all about it.

As others have said, I’m sure the few days at ambient temperature (given ambient is currently pretty cold!) shouldn’t be a problem.

I remember reading some research by either Wite Labs or Wyeast showing their vitality is considerably better than the calculators suggest.
 

An Ankoù

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As An Ankou says give it time. I've revived 40 year old yeast before so a few months shouldn't be anything to worry about
That's very interesting. When I moved into this place, there were some unopened bottles of Bass, Guinness and a couple of others, which are well over 40 years old. I wonder if they're still viable.
 

MyQul

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Have you documented this in an old thread somewhere? If not, can you tell us all about it.

As others have said, I’m sure the few days at ambient temperature (given ambient is currently pretty cold!) shouldn’t be a problem.

I remember reading some research by either Wite Labs or Wyeast showing their vitality is considerably better than the calculators suggest.
That's very interesting. When I moved into this place, there were some unopened bottles of Bass, Guinness and a couple of others, which are well over 40 years old. I wonder if they're still viable.
https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/gales-1977-silver-jublilee-yeast.83847/

The yeast is currently in my fridge as I cultured it up to a pitchable amount but I missed the temp window (I dont use temp control and just use temp appropriate yeast. Its now too cold in my brewing corner to use the Gales yeast until it gets warmer)
 
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Wow my father has a few jubilee & Hardys ales from the seventies I wonder if I could reanimate the yeast in those ?
 

GerritT

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Liquid yeasts are imo SLOOOOW to act.
If I'm not mistaken one fresh pack of yeast (be it liquid or dry) should absolutely be enough for 5 gallons of average strength beer. Older packs should still be able to do that. OLD packs (beyond bbd) also still have potency, but less. So my guess is that even if your yeast was a half year over the bbd, it still would be able to ferment 2.5 gallons of beer. Hell I used dry yeast sachets of a year past bbd but everything still fermented out. Disclaimer: my batches are 4 gallons about-ish.

And it would still be SLOOOOW.
 
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Cheers . I have great patience, that is one thing I have learnt in my very short brewing time “PATIENCE” brings the greatest results.
 

MyQul

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Wow my father has a few jubilee & Hardys ales from the seventies I wonder if I could reanimate the yeast in those ?
I should think there a good chance. Both of the original 9 jubilee ales I've tried so far have had yeast in them, despite neither of the bottles saying, 'bottle conditioned' on them. I'm of the opinion, that back in the 70's they either didnt have the technology to properly filter out all the yeast from bottled beers or aethetics/clarity wasn't such a big issue for the 1970's drinker (perhaps some older formites may be able to put forward an opinion on this second point?)

If you do have a go at culturing up your dads jubilee ales, you need to do it slowly with lots of step ups
 
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This would be my first attempt so I will read up on this in great detail before I go ahead. Will keep you posted guys if anyone is interested.
 

Grealish

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https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/gales-1977-silver-jublilee-yeast.83847/

The yeast is currently in my fridge as I cultured it up to a pitchable amount but I missed the temp window (I dont use temp control and just use temp appropriate yeast. Its now too cold in my brewing corner to use the Gales yeast until it gets warmer)
Not wanting to hi jack the thread but, as you appear to have a penchant for old yeast... the first brewing book I read was Greg Hughes and I seem to remember that he said that yeast can only be reused a few times (I can’t double check as a mate has ‘borrowed’ it). I have reused yeast many times and it has fermented vigorously and taste doesn’t seem impaired. I’m currently conditioning a Hefeweizen that was brewed with yeast which will have been in around 8 to 10 previous brews. What’s your view on how often it can be reused? À propos of nothing, I’ve also made some great bread with it.
 

Chris17

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That's a very small starter, did you use a yeast calculator to work out how much you needed?
Not exactly. Before I received the delivery I did, but guessed the manufacture date of the yeast only being about a month old. It calculated that a 500ml starter would be fine (I’m only doing a 10L batch).

I can now see small bubbles making their way up the flask and settling at the edge at the top now, but it’s nothing significant. Tomorrow is my last chance to brew for a while, so I think I’m just going to go for it. Would you guys recommend making another starter now for the yeast to work on until tomorrow, or not bother??
 

Linalmeemow

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Not exactly. Before I received the delivery I did, but guessed the manufacture date of the yeast only being about a month old. It calculated that a 500ml starter would be fine (I’m only doing a 10L batch).

I can now see small bubbles making their way up the flask and settling at the edge at the top now, but it’s nothing significant. Tomorrow is my last chance to brew for a while, so I think I’m just going to go for it. Would you guys recommend making another starter now for the yeast to work on until tomorrow, or not bother??
Ah, ok - if it's a small batch I'm sure you'll be fine as is. TBH you'd have been fine without a starter but it's certainly not going to hurt!
 

An Ankoù

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Not wanting to hi jack the thread but, as you appear to have a penchant for old yeast... the first brewing book I read was Greg Hughes and I seem to remember that he said that yeast can only be reused a few times (I can’t double check as a mate has ‘borrowed’ it). I have reused yeast many times and it has fermented vigorously and taste doesn’t seem impaired. I’m currently conditioning a Hefeweizen that was brewed with yeast which will have been in around 8 to 10 previous brews. What’s your view on how often it can be reused? À propos of nothing, I’ve also made some great bread with it.
With each generation, your yeast will contain more and more mutants as the original yeast adapts to to "house" conditions. A lab in a brewery would reculture the original yeast from a single cell of the "good" stuff. Or, more probably, get a yeast lab to do this for them. I tend to ditch a yeast after 5 or six generations and start with a new pack. Earlier if the head begins to look "slimy" rather than "rocky" or if the fermentation starts to slow. If you take two samples from each batch that's 32 or 64 brews. Do you make that much beer with the same yeast.
Wheeler advocates making up new starters from the dregs of your bottled beer. This makes sense as if you've got 40 bottles then that's 40 samples of first generation yeast.
 
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Craft beer channel have a new video up on YouTube that’s worth a look “what is yeast’” I found it an interesting insight to the yeast manufacturers lab etc....
 
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