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Wyeast Pack Rookie Mistake

Prior to making my 2nd ever batch of homebrew, I left my activated Wyeast pack out (at 70 degrees) for about 24 hours before using it. Should I plan on repitching a new pack tomorrow or is it worth waiting a few days looking for signs of life in the fermenter?

You are fine. It may take up to 3 days for signs of fermentation to show.

??? Not sure what problem that could possibly cause. When I used to pitch directly from a smack pack, I would routinely smack it on a thursday night and brew with it on a saturday or even a sunday. One thing to consider as you become more comfortable with the process though is to make a starter - one of the best ways to improve your beer and get fermentations going in 12 hours or less.

And you left the pack at room temp for this time? Or was it refrigerated?

room temp. Did it hundreds of times. Never had a problem (at least not one due to this:)

If you put it in the refrigerator the yeast will stay dormant. They like warmer temps.

Room temperature for 12 to 24 hours is actually ideal. As a lazier home brewer, I routinely smack 'em in the morning as my first step before brewing. If I remember and/or am sure I’m gonna brew, I do it the night before. Refrigerating is only necessary for prolonged storage.

Disclaimer: the above practice recently burned me so I’m finally headed back to starter making. A saison yeast pack didn’t swell that much, but my brewing pracice really has no back up plan so I pitched away. I got a slow fermentation that didn’t attenuate well. This was a real bummer especially since saisons are supposed to be well attenuated (80% or more). That said, “smack and pitch” worked great for me for years, just stay away from finicky yeast strains, lagers and high gravity beers unless you get into making starters…

Thanks for all the help everyone! Your quick responses helped to ease my mind a bit. It’s been about 24 hours since I added the yeast to the wort and it’s bubbling nicely.

Will the yeast still be alright if the smack pack has been in the fridge for a couple of months?

Pre-ordered several recipes that I planned on brewing over the next couple of months just to make it easier on me instead of ordering 4 separate times. As soon as the arrived, the packs went straight to the fridge, and have been there since.

Thanks,

[quote=“jabonneau86”]Will the yeast still be alright if the smack pack has been in the fridge for a couple of months?

Pre-ordered several recipes that I planned on brewing over the next couple of months just to make it easier on me instead of ordering 4 separate times. As soon as the arrived, the packs went straight to the fridge, and have been there since.

Thanks,[/quote]
Yes they will be fine but the viability will go down. Use the Mr. Malty yeast pitching calculator to determine how big of a starter to use.

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

I’ll be expecting a Rookie royalty check in the mail. :lol:

Another question, what if I don’t have extra materials to make a starter with. All I have is what I need to make my recipe. How would I go about making a starter with nothing else then?

You could use cooled wort from your recipe but you’ll need to ferment the starter at the proper temperature and you’ll have to be extra vigilant about sanitation since you’ll be pitching yeast a few days after cooling the wort down. What recipes do you have? Maybe you can get by without a starter. I’ve read some other guys here say there is a store bought malt you can use for starters but you’ll have to do a search. Remember on your next order to get some DME or extra smack packs if your recipe’s OG is over 1.040.

I’m gonna jump in on this post! Hope you don’t mind. :slight_smile: I did a similar thing. I ordered two NB brews and stupidly left the Wyeast packets in the boxes for about 5 days until i realised it and then put them in the fridge. Will they be ok?? They are in the fridge now and i will be brewing this weekend. Thanks!

What brew? Depends on OG. I’ve done what you said with a 1.040 beer and a smack pack that was just a few weeks old when it arrived; feremented fine. If you’re beer is going to be over 1.040 OG you need a starter anyway, regardless of how long it stayed unrefrigerated.

What brew? Depends on OG. I’ve done what you said with a 1.040 beer and a smack pack that was just a few weeks old when it arrived; feremented fine. If you’re beer is going to be over 1.040 OG you need a starter anyway, regardless of how long it stayed unrefrigerated.[/quote]

I have a Chocolate Milk Stout with Wyeast 1332 OG 1.051 and a German Alt Wyeast 1007 OG 1.052. Neither of these instructions call for a yeast starter. Hoping the smack packs will be ok. One other note, they were shipped with the frozen pack so they stayed in with that but obviously it wasn’t frozen when i finally put them in the fridge.

The threshold of “needing” a starter varies widely depending on who you ask. Many brewers always use starters, many brewers never do. In the books I’ve read the maximum non-starter OG is more like 1.060. I’ve done “smack and pitch” up to about 1.062 with nice results. There’s a lot of info and many posts on the matter but there are certainly more variables than just a line in the sand at some OG. For example, I used a very fresh, refrigerated Wyeast pack and a nutrient rich all grain wort aerated with pure oxygen for my 1.062 beer. It fermented rapidly with normal expected attenuation and tasted great. I’ve posted similar comments on here before and been criticized by some for not using starters. I consider starters another tool in my chest, but just as I don’t “always” need to use my hammer for a job, I don’t “always” use starters.

The word “need” is the key here. According to the Mr Malty pitch rate calculator, “smack and pitch” is often “under pitching”. But what happens if you under pitch? In my experience you get normal ferments down to normal final gravities in most cases. So did I “need” a starter? Why?

All this said, I certainly agree that for each yeast and each wort there is a point where “under pitching” will start to have an impact on final flavor. There’s really no realiable way to know where that point is. I believe a brewer can have some effect on that point with quality all grain worts, yeast nutrients and excellent aeration. But the bottom line is, there’s no one out there that can measure exactly where it is. If you draw the line at 1.040, that’s great and I’m sure it works well for you. That does not mean however that worts above 1.040 “need” starters. Think about it, what will happen to a 1.041 wort? Will it simply not ferment? Will it under attenuate? Will it taste horrible? In my experience, no to all.

It’s actually a Mr. Beer kit I ordered back in February. Checked the mfg date of the smack pack and it is Feb 12th. A hefe…OG of 1.046. So only 2.5 gallons. Ordered well before I found NB. Brewing all the beer for a party in October, and figured I’d save shipping costs by ordering everything at once. Looking back, not so smart.

You are ok not using a starter if you don’t have the stuff to properly make one. DEFINITELY DO NOT make your wort, use some of it to make a starter and leave it unpitched until the starter is ready. That is just asking for problems. Just work with what you have. Almost every homebrewer began and even continues to simply smack and pitch. If everything else is fine, this won’t hurt your beer.

Making a starter is a good idea as you become more comfortable with your process. It gets you beer off to a faster, better start and that limits any opportunity for contamination or off flavors. I think any beer can benefit from a starter, but most beers will be fine without one too.

With a 2.5 gallon batch you’ve effectively doubled your pitching rate anyway; this discussion has been based on 5 gallon batches. A smack pack will easily ferment 2.5 gallons of 1.046 wort without a starter…

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