Since my basement is maintaining a consistent 61F this time of year, I decided to make a pale ale recipe using Wyeast 2112 -- california lager yeast which works best at 58 to 68F.
Pressed for time, I did NOT make a starter, merely smacked it and let it sit for about 8 hours. During that time, it did NOT swell a lick. I briefly contemplated abandoning the lager and pitching US56 dry ale yeast. The lhbs was closed so no advice there.
Anyway, I decided to aerate the hell out of the wort and pitch the 2112 as planned. 36 hours later without a bubble I called lhbs and he advised me to be patient, give it time and not to panic. 12 hours later I panicked and pitched the dry US56 ale yeast. I moved the carboy to a room at 70F and it went quickly. The next day, I moved it back to the basement (61F) and damned if it didnt start AGAIN!
I racked to secondary last night. I'm not sure what the hell I have here, but it sure is something I have never tasted before. I didnt particularly like it, to be honest, but then again I have rarely liked a lager on first racking -- the lagering for a month or so is what makes the beer.
So what do I have here? An ale? Give it 2 weeks and keg? Or a lager? Give it a diacetyl rest and store at 38F for a month?
For what its worth, the lager yeast was nearly 6 months old (Wyeast is kind enough to put the mfg date on the pack) but conventional wisdom is that yeast will last much longer. My lhbs is very conscientious about storing yeast so I doubt there was a problem on that end.
Is it a good idea NOT to pitch yeast that has not swollen the pack? Seems to me that that is Wyeasts claim to fame ... the sweeling of the smack pack guarantees the yeast is viable.