Author Topic: Yeast Viability  (Read 1028 times)

Offline fm8756

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Yeast Viability
« on: December 26, 2014, 03:49:08 PM »
I am very new to home brewing.  In fact I've only brewed one batch so far!  I received a kit for Christmas that contained a vial of Vermont Ale liquid yeast.  It is supposed to be refrigerated, but it was under the tree for 3 weeks!  Is it still viable at this point?

Offline etbrew

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2014, 05:01:15 PM »
I would make a starter with it and see what happens.  Boil 1/2 cup dry malt extract with a pint of water, cool, and pitch the yeast into the starter wort.  I use sanitized growlers with and airlock on top to make starters but if you don't have an airlock you can cover loosely with foil.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2014, 05:04:47 PM by etbrew »

Offline fm8756

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2014, 06:21:34 PM »
Thanks etbrew!  I used a growler and added the starter.  Wait about 12 hours correct?  And then it should show signs of fermentation?  If it does, do I just pitch the entire growler contents into the wort?

Offline etbrew

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2014, 07:00:45 PM »
Assuming the yeast is good and it starts fermenting the starter wort I would give it a few days to ferment out completely so you are sure you have a bunch of fresh healthy yeast in there. Then I would put it in the fridge, at least over night, which will cause the bulk of the yeast to drop to the bottom of the growler.  I pour off most of the wort from the yeast leaving behind just enough to swirl around and get all the yeast off the bottom of the growler.  It then goes into the wort. 

Out of curiosity, is the kit a Heady Topper clone?  Never heard of VT Ale yeast...if it is a heady topper like beer you may need to step up the starter size to have enough yeast.

Offline fm8756

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2014, 07:06:11 PM »
It is called Off The Topper by Northern Brewer and is meant to be similar to Heady (http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/off-the-topper-iipa-homebrew-kit.html).

What exactly do you mean by "you may need to step up the starter size to have enough yeast." I put the entire vial of yeast in the starter.

Offline etbrew

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2014, 07:25:14 PM »
The starting gravity on this beer is 1.070 and if I was brewing it I would make at least a 1 quart starter. 

Basically you need more yeast depending on the gravity of your wort and stepping up means essentially to make a bigger starter (bigger starter=more yeast).  In this case I would suggest letting the starter you have going now ferment so you know the yeast is healthy.  When done cold crash it in the fridge like I mentioned before and make another batch of the starter wort using with 1 cup dry malt extract to 1 quart of water and add the yeast from the first starter.

Wyeast has some instructions for making starters here: http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_makingastarter.cfm






Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2014, 07:34:38 PM »
I second the advice to make a starter but half a cup in one pint is too strong. 100 grams to 1 liter/quart of water. you might well want to step it up again but if you do I would decant and pitch the slurry into at least 2 and preferably 4 liters of new starter wort (200 grams of DME in 2 liters water)
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Offline fm8756

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2014, 09:18:05 PM »
Thanks guys for all your help!  I am definitely a beginner and may have bit off more than I can chew for this particular recipe.  Live and learn, right?  Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.  Is it ok that I used the entire vial (35mls) of yeast in the starter?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2014, 09:57:56 PM »
Thanks guys for all your help!  I am definitely a beginner and may have bit off more than I can chew for this particular recipe.  Live and learn, right?  Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.  Is it ok that I used the entire vial (35mls) of yeast in the starter?

yes the entire vial is correct. did you do a 1 quart/liter starter? don't get overwhelmed with the recipe. it's very hard to entirely mess up making beer. no matter what it will be among the two best batches of beer you've ever brewed.

don't get impatient and make sure your wort is chilled well (60-65f ideally but absolutely under 70) before you pitch yeast. Keep the beer cool and let it finish in it's own time.
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Offline etbrew

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2014, 10:09:58 PM »
I second the advice to make a starter but half a cup in one pint is too strong. 100 grams to 1 liter/quart of water. you might well want to step it up again but if you do I would decant and pitch the slurry into at least 2 and preferably 4 liters of new starter wort (200 grams of DME in 2 liters water)

Good call.  You are correct. Should have been 1/2 cup per quart. 

Offline fm8756

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2014, 02:37:23 PM »
I went with the 1/2 cup DME with 1 quart of water.  It has been about 20 hours now.  Fermentation does not appear to have started yet.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2014, 02:47:24 PM »
I went with the 1/2 cup DME with 1 quart of water.  It has been about 20 hours now.  Fermentation does not appear to have started yet.

Did you shake it to get it aerated? You should continue to give it a good shake as often as possible.

Offline fm8756

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2014, 03:40:38 PM »
Yes, I open it up every few hours or so and give it a good shake.  At what point do you know it's just no good?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2014, 06:04:01 PM »
Yes, I open it up every few hours or so and give it a good shake.  At what point do you know it's just no good?

I'd give it another day. but if you don't feel like risking it you could just order a new vial. probably take about the same amount of time.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Yeast Viability
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2014, 06:21:26 PM »
If you get zero activity after a few days then all the yeast were dead. The problem is that if you pitch a large amount of yeast (such as a whole vial of yeast) in to a small amount of wort (such as a starter) then the fermentation can occur quickly and without much visible evidence so you only think nothing has happened. I often make starters at night and wake up to what initially looks like an unaffected starter but actually fermentation is just done. After you have made a few starters you will be able to look at it and tell whether it has fermented just by the color and clarity. You can also swirl or shake the starter and see CO2 coming out of solution. That is usually how I tell whether I am looking at the starter before or after fermentation has started.

Unless the beer kit sat under a Christmas tree that was on fire it is almost certain that you have plenty of live yeast in that vial. Our beers sit at room-ish temperature for 2-3 weeks and you can repitch the yeast from one batch into the next. Yeast naturally live at ambient temperatures. I expect your starter fermented out quickly and you have a big pile of healthy yeast ready to tackle some beer.
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