Originally Posted by adagiogray
I'm a complete newbie, but I just pitched the smack pack directly into my primary fermenter after 'starting' the pack for 3-4 hours. I pitched it in about 9pm, by the next morning it was bubbling furiously.
I was under the impression that the smack packs made creating a starter unnecessary, but I could be completely off base.
Starting a smack pack is not analogous to making a yeast starter.
From Wyeast's site:
"Activator packages include a sterile liquid nutrient pouch that, when smacked, releases its contents into the yeast slurry and activates the package. The available nutrients initiate the cultures metabolism which in turn generates CO2 and causes swelling of the package. This process will reduce lag times by preparing the yeast for a healthy fermentation prior to inoculation. Activation also serves as a viability test..."
A "yeast starter" contains enough fermentables to ensure multiple rounds of yeast replication and the nutrients to keep the wee beasties healthy. Smack packs don't amplify the pitch, starters do.