I am in love with these guys right now. I mean, I've had good luck with their products before, but now I'm just glowing.
On Thursday night I smacked a packet of Belgian Ardennes (Chouffe) yeast to brew on Sunday. The package was 6-8 months old, not ideal, but alright. In order to warm it up from fridge temperatures, I put it on the shelf above my stove while I made supper on the stove. Unbeknownst to me, my roommate had something in the oven (no she's not pregnant, she was baking bread), and before I realised it the packet had warmed up far above skin temperature (mid-40s, I'd estimate, although I wasn't able to get a good read).
I figured I'd keep an eye on it anyway just in case the yeast survived. In the next 24 hours the pack didn't swell any more, and on Saturday morning I pitched it into a starter of wort from my Saturday (steam beer) brew day. Sunday rolled around, and I went ahead with my brewday. I never observed any action in the starter, but it didn't smell bad. The yeast had dropped out in a creamy beige layer almost immediately. When it came time to pitch, I decanted a little clear starter wort to taste, swirled the rest in, and went ahead and pitched it, fully expecting that the starter was dead and I'd have to repitch the next day. I'd have had to settle for 3463 witbier or 1214 chimay yeast (which always just makes banana bread for me).
Lo and behold, I came home from the bar 12 hours later and the wort was bubbling; when I woke up six hours after that, there was a full krausen. Yesterday I boiled, cooled, and added a pound of jaggery that I'd left out of the original recipe to be nice to the yeast, and the krausen has picked back up to a beautiful, pillowy four inch layer, and the smells coming out of the airlock are fantastic.
The beer is a hoppy Belgian Pale Ale a la Surly CynicAle or the Dieu du Ciel Dernière Volonté. Pils malt, munich, wheat, and jaggery; Sterling and Saaz with about 3.5 ounces as flavour and aroma. The only question now is whether I should dry-hop, and with what.
So that's my Wyeast story of the day. If you give these yeast a chance, they will do their thing with aplomb. Here's to them.