I've always fermented in glass carboys but after so many posts about the dangers of them I decided to try fermenting in a plastic bucket. So I bought a plastic bucket from MoreBeer.com. Last weekend I brewed an Irish Red with Wyeast 2112 California Lager. While "Lager" is in the name it isn't a lager yeast. Recommended temperature range is 58-68 F. Here's where my problems start. The yeast was packaged 2.5 months prior to use. The smack-pack barely inflated, even after three hours. Since there was some inflation I assumed there was enough viable yeast for my starter to build up. After 24 hours on the stir plate there was a good amount of yeast swirling around. But I only had dark DME it was hard to judge. Other than volume bein a half-gallon high and OG being 3 points low, brew day was perfect. I pitched the yeast at 70 F and put bucket in my mini-freezer set to a range of 60-62F. The next day when I checked it, there was a significant sulfur smell. Exactly like when I ferment a lager. I didn't detect any other off-flavor and I don't see any signs of infection.
Now finally my question: Am I smelling sulfur because I under-pitched over-stressed yeast or because fermentation buckets are leaky and the smell that is always there is just escaping. I have brewed this recipe many times but am usually tweaking something. But I almost always use wyeast 2112. And the yeast was purchased from my LHBS so environmental issues during shipment shouldn't be an issue.