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A strange yeast pack experience

I received an order recently in which a Wyeast smack pack of 1056 was already fully inflated. I figured it had gotten “smacked” when someone dropped the box. Anyway, I threw it in the fridge intending to try creating a starter with it. I wasn’t too hopeful, the icepacks and the yeast packs were warm on arrival.

But last night I made a starter wort w/ 130g DME and 1300ml water. Took the yeast out of the fridge for a few hours and pitched at 60F wort temp. The little nutrient pouch was tight as a drum and clearly had not been “smacked”! 4 hours later it began to fiz like crazy when shook a bit.

So far it doesn’t smell off or anything. Should I use this for a batch of beer?

If your starter is showing active fermentation then you’re fine. The pack may have just swelled from the heat during shipping. In the future, I would recommend buying your yeast local (if possible) during the hot summer months and cold winter months. Or maybe think about using a dry yeast during these times if you can’t buy your yeast locally.

Good point. There were other packs in the box, but this one was up against the side of the box. Must have been sitting on a hot dock or something.

Yeah, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons…the nearest local shop that has liquid yeast is an hour’s drive.

All that means is that the yeast is exceptionally fresh and healthy. Don’t worry about it.

Some yeasts don’t have very good substitutes but US-05 works great in the place of 1056. Perhaps a more refined palette can maybe tell the difference but I can’t.

I had the same thing happen once. It was surprising how much that swollen nutrient pack puffed up the whole. I called Wyeast and they said pitch it all into the wort, nutrient pack included. The beer was just fine.

Wyeast is good with advice on their 800 number.

"Swollen packages are almost always the cause of a small amount of sugar or CO2 being left in solution at the time of packaging. Upon shipment, CO2 can be released from solution or the yeast can consume the sugar and create a small amount of CO2.

Cell autolysis, or cell death can also be a cause of swelling package. However, this is only in rare cases where the yeast is exposed to high temperature for an extended amount of time."

As long as it has not been mishandled you shouldn’t have an issue.

There is definitely a difference, 05 isn’t quite as clean as 1056. But it’s still a good yeast.

I had the same exact situation yesterday with a Wyeast 1450. I was a bit panicked when I opened tha package from UPS. I started the starter last night and it’s doing fine.

For some reason, that’s pretty common for that one.

Add me to the list of swollen 1450’s. I got on in last week that was swollen and felt warm. It was so tight that I couldnt pop the inner pack so I stuck it in the fridge just long enough to get a little below room temp which dropped the interior pressure enough for me to pop the inner pack. Waited 3 hours pitched in my starter and started sniffing. Next day - confirmation - that wonderful happy yeast smell. This one has a very interesting “deep” aroma.


There’s really no need to pop the nutrient pack before making a starter.

Now I know :wink: I spent . . er . . wasted 30 min struggling with that thing.

Oh well all went well. That (making a cherry wheat ale so I can have a nice clean yeast bed to harvest) batch has been in the fermentor now since tuesday night and it is happily burbling along at about 64 -65 degrees.


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