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Wit's Happenin'? - Return of the Frozen Yeast

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 4/28/2017 at 04:32:59 AM

My homebrew club asked for volunteers to brew for the upcoming AHA Rally at NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, so, I accepted. I was assigned a Witbier and sent the following kit from NoDa for a 5 gallon batch (assuming 75% efficiency):

6 lbs Pilsner
3 lbs Wheat Malt
1 lbs Carafoam

Mash at 150 F with balanced Chloride and Sulfate water profile.

Boil for 60 minutes
Magnum (11% AA) @ 60 min
1.5 oz of Experimental Spice (Cinnamon Sticks for our club) @ 0'

OG: 1.046      FG: 1.008     IBUs: 24 (BeerSmith says 17.5)

Ferment on 400 yeast (wit yeast) @ 68-72 F

That last line is where the trouble comes in. When the kits were put together someone picked out WLP004 (Irish Ale) for my kit. When Charles, from NoDa Brewing, let me know of the error I suggested that I had WLP400 that I could use. The one hitch was that it had been sitting in my freezer for 16 months.

I discovered Brülosophy's yeast harvesting method and started a small yeast collection about 2 years ago. As time went on, the collection grew. The active yeast in the collection needs to be refreshed about every two months and it was becoming quite a chore. It was then that I decided to start freezing the yeast based on an article I found on HomeBrew Talk. I began taking a vial of the yeast cultures I rarely used and adding 20% Glycerol to them before freezing. Every time I obtain a new yeast or bacterial culture I make a starter and freeze a sample. I've got many vials in the freezer, but, I have never tried to revive one because the need never arose......until now.

I searched the freezer, found the yeast, and set it out. It took surprising little time to thaw just sitting on the counter. I made a 1.030 one liter starter, inoculated it with the yeast, and put it on the stir plate. I expected it to be a little sluggish and it didn't disappoint. There seemed to be a little activity, but, the starter wasn't turning as milky as I'm used to. After 48 hours I cold crashed the starter, decanted the beer, and placed the yeast in two separate vials. One of the vials was inoculated in a one liter 1.037 starter, placed on the stir plate, and was obviously very active 12 hours later. It's now resting quietly in the refrigerator awaiting the Big Wit Brew.

Thanks again to NoDa Brewing Company for hosting the rally and providing the kit for me to brew. If you're in the Charlotte area on May 20th, please stop by NoDa Brewing to try the Ice Age Wit with Cinnamon.........

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