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I just made a yeast starter for my upcoming brew and I realize the bag I was using for DME was pushing a year old and hasn't been through prime storing conditions. It got mixed in with my other stuff somehow and I realize I used it. The DME seems fine, no visible problems or anything. It also smelled fine when boiling the starter.

I was wondering if there is any concern with using this yeast starter I just made? I know DME doesn't stay fresh for eternity or anything, but I am also only using this as a starter, not a base malt for an extract brew. What are your thoughts, should I scratch the starter or should I go ahead? Thanks!

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Assuming you boiled the DME with water, and chilled, then there's no problem. Old DME may not taste especially great, but it still has all the sugars and free amino nitrogen that the yeast need, and is still fit to function as wort for a starter.

Before pitching, decant a little and have a taste of the starter. Not only will this let you sample some of the flavor characteristics of the yeast strain, but you can see if pitching the starter will adversely or positively affect the beer.

At the very most, simply let the starter ferment out and decant most of the liquid to avoid getting any stale DME flavors in the beer, but chances are this won't be necessary.

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Awesome, thank you for clearing my paranoia! I didn't feel like spending for a couple of vials of yeast in a pinch –  Justin Rassier Mar 29 '12 at 14:10
    
If you taste the starter, don't expect it to taste like the final beer though. Especially if you didn't put any hops in the starter. –  Graham Mar 29 '12 at 19:08
    
Yeah, good point @Graham, it tastes very little like beer - very flat, sometimes yeasty, usually lots of nose - it's a concentrated sample of the yeast character. For tasting purposes, diluting can sometimes help. I can only say that a handful of starters tasted particularly good - the rest requiring a pledge of faith in the yeasties that they would make the beer turn out well! –  mdma Mar 29 '12 at 19:29
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