The Wyeast smack pack that came with my kit says on it to smack 3 hours before pitching and incubate at 70 to 80 degrees. The instructions that came with the kit say to smack a few days before brewing. what do I do? Do I follow package instructions or kit instructions?
I would take package instructions over kit instructions any day. Smacking it a few days before brew day won’t accomplish anything, save killing some yeast. If you have a few days, definitely make a starter though. Even smack packs have lower cell count than desired for all but the lowest gravity beers.
It is better to start the yeast a few days before brewing. This will give the starter plenty of time to finish and to decant the wort before pitching. Almost all fermentations with liquid yeasts will require a starter to prevent under pitching.
This is the starter/pitch rate calculator I like to use.
I am making a mead and plan to do so on Sunday. Not even sure how to make a starter for it. I have no must to use as a starter. I have 2 days to work with. I am making the must on Sunday morning and can pitch as late as 8:00 Sunday night.
You can get it started in a little apple juice. Sanitized jug, add some apple juice and yeast nutrient, and toss in your yeast. Cover with an airlock or some sanitized foil.
Is it fair to assume I need to use the natural apple juice without any preservative stuff in it?
Yes, sorbate will definitely harm the yeast.
OK, new direction for this. I am making the mead tomorrow. The active range for the yeast is 50 - 70. When I make beer I like to stay in the low side of the range. Is it the same with mead? What fermentation temp is suggested?
Which yeast is it?
I haven’t used that specific one, but I do typically use wine yeast for mead. I try to ferment near the top of the yeast’s temperature range, since mead is a pretty hostile environment and I like to give it every chance it can to have a healthy fermentation. The few times I’ve kept the temperature down the fermentation has stalled. But I haven’t used that strain, so take this with an appropriately sized grain of salt!
OK, so maybe I will not temp control this. I will just put it tin the basement which is probably in the high 60’s right now and let it go. The info on the yeast says 75 is max.