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Smack pack instructions

The instructions in kits with Wyeast smack packs say to activate them “a few days before brewing day”. It does not say whether the pack should go back in the fridge after it swells or if it is OK to leave out the “few days”. If activating the pack 24-48 hours before brew day is it OK to leave it out or should it return to the fridge after swollen? If back in the fridge do you need to warm it up to room temp before pitching? Thanks.

First, I firmly believe (despite what Wyeast says) that for any beer over 1.040 you should make a starter rather than pitching the pack directly. My experience is what leads me to that conclusion. You can read more about it at www.mrmalty.com. OK, that’s out of the way…you really don’t even need to smack it before pitching. Smacking produces almost no cell growth and is just way to check the viability. Not that that’s bad, but it’s pretty much unnecessary. I keep yeast on the fridge until right before I pitch it. There is no need to warm it first and some evidence that doing so can be detrimental.

I just brewed the Dry Irish Stout All Grain kit from Northern Brewer, where I made a starter with a package of Wyeast 1084. I smacked the pack about three hours before the starter wort was to be ready and cool enough for pitching. I thought I had smacked it hard enough, but after three hours on the counter top there was absolutely no swelling of the pack, as there would normally be after that much time. I felt around the pack to see if I could feel the inner pack, and I could, but I couldn’t tell if it had ruptured. So I cut the corner of the pack, poured the yeast into my starter flask, and then cut the top completely off the pack so I could inspect the inner pack. Sure enough it hadn’t ruptured. No worries though, I just cut the inner pack open and dumped that into my starter and within 12 hours there was plenty of yeast activity. The starter went into the stout wort 42 hours after it was started, and ten hours after that the air lock on the carboy was bubbling nicely, although a krausen hasn’t yet developed. But it will soon enough…

FWIW: I make a 1.6 liter starter no matter what the OG of the beer I’m brewing is going to be. Per the conventional wisdom I could have gotten away with a single smack pack for this particular beer, but 1) I always harvest 8 oz of starter and save it for a future batch (1084 was new to me, thus the need for a smack pack this time) and 2) My brewhouse efficiency ended up at 84%, so instead of an OG of 1.042, I ended up at 1.060, putting me into “Two Pack” territory.

FWIW, there’s no need for that nutrient pack if you’re making a starter. It’s not gomma hurt anything, but next time you can save yourself the trouble and skip it.

Off Topic, but am I the only one who is only about 2/5 for getting the damn nutrient pack to rupture?

I guess I’m too worried about rupturing the whole bag.

[quote=“tmac2050”]Off Topic, but am I the only one who is only about 2/5 for getting the damn nutrient pack to rupture?

I guess I’m too worried about rupturing the whole bag.[/quote]

I have no problem with it.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“tmac2050”]Off Topic, but am I the only one who is only about 2/5 for getting the damn nutrient pack to rupture?

I guess I’m too worried about rupturing the whole bag.[/quote]

I have no problem with it.[/quote]

Me either. Just get the nutrient pack in a corner of the pack and give it a good, firm smack.

Great, thanks for the info.

They’re just kidding about the “smack” part. Get the nutrient pack into a corner, place the pack on a firm surface and press until the nutrient pack bursts.

I’ve done both and both work.

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