Let me just preface by saying, nothing irritates me more than people saying you need to make a starter, smack-packs don't have the 10 brazillion cells to make good beer.
I've been making good beer for years without making a starter.
So, a few weeks back, I went to obtain some raw materials to make my Beach Blanket Bitter, a mild ale I take up to the annual family camping trip. They were out of stock of the 1318 London III that works so well, but it was coming in on Thursday. I procured the other raws, and picked up the yeast when it arrived.
Now let me give you some brew house history. I always ferment in a 5 gallon glass carboy in a dark corner of my basement, with a 1 inch hose venting to a 48 oz. Lite beer pitcher, you know, those short fat ones they had at the music festivals, when you could still get pitchers. I put about an inch of bleach water to bubble into in the pitcher. Generally, the next day, I have some activity, and the following day I may need to change out the pitcher because it's foaming and filling up the pitcher. A few days later I can put on an airlock and let it finish.
So, I made my beer per usual, and when I checked on it 8 hours later, I had a carboy spinning, and a pitcher half full, with foam coming out the top. I replaced it with a fresh one (I have lots), and checked 12 hours later. To my surprise I had to do the same. I put the air lock on after 6 days, and had almost no activity, but I'm pretty sure there was no activity after 3 days. I let it sit for a total of 17 days before bottling, and it seems normal.
Now, I made a batch of Honey Brown yesterday. Same batch of yeast (1318, May4, 11). Made last night, this morning, pitcher half full, foaming out the top. Changed out. Tonight, pitcher overflowing, had to change out again. I've lost about 4 bottles of beer to this crazy fermentation. Is this normal, and I've just never seen it. Or do I have some crazy fermentation going on. I haven't tried the bitter yet to see it's ok, but it's still too early for that.