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The proprietor at my LHBS gave me an unsold Wyeast 1968 smack pack that was well over a year old. I made a starter for it just to see if it was still viable. It was not viable.

Now I need to make a WLP001 starter for a batch I'm brewing this weekend, and I'd like to use this failed starter for that. My understanding is that dead yeast make for good nutrition for active yeast. Would it be a bad idea to add a little water to the failed starter, boil it for 10 minutes, and use it for the WLP001 starter?

  • It doesn't sound like a good idea...yeast eating other yeast. I'd give it a try with an inexpensive dry yeast to start with, if it doesn't smell awful after a few days, then try it with your good yeast. – Chris Pfohl Sep 24 '14 at 18:56
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I used to add baking yeast into the starter boil as a nutrient to my beer yeast, all good. I believe you're safe with what you want to do.

One last Q, how did you determine that the yeast is not viable? I fridge store my yeast samples for a year and get a visibly healthy starter after 2 days of inoculation. "Visibly" as in "it bubbles a lot".

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  • When I broke the activator inside the smack pack, the package didn't swell after four hours. I went ahead an pitched it into the starter anyway. That was 24 hours ago, and there's no sign of activity whatsoever. I figure it's dead. – bughunter Sep 25 '14 at 2:08
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    If you're not in a hurry give it another day and shake often, to force enough oxygen into the liquid. Yeast may lose its tone, but unless the pack has been stored in completely inappropriate conditions (say, overheated), I'd still expect some live yeast inside. – Codehopper Sep 25 '14 at 11:58
  • He stores nearly all of his yeast in a refrigerator. It was probably stored well. The package was about a year and a half old. I suppose I could have waited another day, but it was occupying my only yeast starter vessel (a vodka bottle), and I had to get one started for this weekend. I did boil and reuse, and the new one is bubbling away. – bughunter Sep 25 '14 at 17:52
  • Good on ya! Btw I found that plastic milk bottles of 3l capacity make good disposable starters. Obviously you have to wash and sanitize it first. – Codehopper Sep 25 '14 at 20:41
  • For future reference, it is not unusual for smack packs that are more than a couple of months old to take a couple of days or more to swell. Four hours is enough only for very fresh packs (mfg < 2 weeks ago). – jalynn2 Sep 26 '14 at 16:42

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