Yeast viability for bottling and using "old" yeast?

So being a somewhat lazy and cheap brewer… I was re-using yeast cakes a lot in my brewing. If I had to change yeasts, I’d take a bit of slurry and store it in the fridge (I took to using the White Labs “test tubes” that the yeast came in). Worked out great when I was brewing a lot in 2014.

I didn’t get to brew much in 2015 though. As a result, I have some questions…

  1. I have two beers in the secondary right now, both have been in the secondary for over a year. Am I going to have to add yeast when I bottle it in order to get it to carb? They’ve been stored around 68-70* for the whole time.

  2. I have two beers in the primary still. Never ended up finding the time to transfer them to a secondary, and they’ve been like that for around 10 months. Is that going to be a problem for the quality of the beer and am I going to have to add yeast at bottling time?

  3. The harvested yeast in the fridge has been there for over a year… should I just throw it out and get fresh stuff or is it worth trying to see if it’s still viable?

The dead yeast cells in the trub have probably decayed and ruined the batches in primary, and the cells in the secondary batches probably aren’t viable…and might have ruined those batches if there’s enough trub settled out and they have decayed too.

Easy way to see is to bottle a 6pack and crack them open after normal carbonation times.

Use the test tubes to do a starter batch to test their viability. If it doesn’t work…not much wasted…if it works than you have fresher yeast to store.

Don’t get your hopes up too high, but it definitely possible that you have some good beer still.

Kinda what I figured. Hope the beer is still ok though. If the dead yeast has decayed and ruined the beer, will smell alone tell me that it’s bad?

As far as the stored yeast, I’ll probably just buy new instead of making starters for all of them.

Pull a sample of the beer still in primary and try it. You will know. I agree with new yeast. It’s not worth the risk of losing an entire batch trying to save a little on yeast.