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-   -   Smack pack not bulging....is it dead? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/smack-pack-not-bulging-dead-141038/)

mikeysab 10-11-2009 01:30 PM

Smack pack not bulging....is it dead?
I ordered a Belgian quad kit from Williams brewing about a month ago. From the day I ordered to the day it arrived was 8 days. I didn't have a pot big enough at the time, so I put the kit in the fridge. When I opened it, the ice pack was totally thawed and warm. The yeast pack wasn't swelled, so I just threw the whole thing in the fridge till yesterday. I smacked it at 5 30pm, hoping to brew today at around 10 am. 5 hours after smacking it, it didn't swell at all yet, so I tried again. Woke up this morning at 8 and it didn't swell at all. When I smacked it the first time, It was fresh out of the fridge, but it's been sitting out at room temp for 16 hours.

Is it possible that the pack came smacked already, in transit? Did I kill it by refrigerating it? Could I not have broke the inner pouch yet? This is the first time I'm using one, so I don't know what to expect. Could I open it up and use it anyway, or can I return it and get another one? I don't have a LHBS, so I'm pretty screwed for 2 weeks if I have to return it and get a new one. What are my options at this point?

While I'm on a yeast thread, I have one other question. The yeast pack (abbey ale II) says it's good for OG up to 1060, but it's a belgian quad which the instructions say should start at 1081. Should i wait and get another pack of yeast, or make a starter with my one pack, or just use it the way it is? Well, it it even swells.

mosquitocontrol 10-11-2009 01:43 PM

Look at the manufacture date. I had one that was slow. I saw somewhere to add 12 hours for every month over 2 it is old? Within 2 days it swelled up fine.

Edcculus 10-11-2009 04:20 PM

The pack doesn't have to swell. I've several packs that didn't.

My recommendation would be to make a starter. Especially with a 1.080 beer. By making a starter, you can tell if the yeast is good also.

mikeysab 10-11-2009 09:01 PM

Ok, this is where I'm conused. Ithought the point of the wyeast smack packs was that it acted as a starter. If I need to make a starter with this pack, how would I go about doing it? Would I just do it the same way as a liquid yeast. I don't have DME, or yeast nutrient on hand, nor do I have easy access to that stuff, so should I just pour the contents of the smack pack into a jar and let it do it's thing?

Edcculus 10-11-2009 09:25 PM

The inner pack is a nutrient pack. Its only purpose is to "proof" the yeast. A lot of times, it doesn't work as very good "proof" that the yeast is good though.

A starter is not to get the yeast active, but to make enough healthy yeast to fully ferment your beer without stressing them. A smack pack or vial does not have enough cells, although they claim to be pitchable in 5 gallons. You can safely pitch directly into a beer below 1.045.

Did your kit come with any DME? if it did, steal some from that. If its only LME, you could steal some of that too. Just cover and refrigerate the can once its opened.

If you state whether you only have LME, DME or both, I can give you exact numbers of how much to use. You want to make around a 1L starter. Mix enough water and extract to make a specific gravity of 1.040. You don't need to measure the SG, just use software to approximate how much extract to add to 1L for that gravity.

For DME starters, I do 100g DME to 1L water. I just ran the numbers in beersmith for liquid. It looks like if you adding .3 lbs of liquid extract to 1L of water (.26 gallons) will get you there.

You will want to boil the "wort", cool it and transfer to a sanitized vessel. Growlers, juice bottles, gallon water jugs or even a pitcher would work. Sanitize the outside of the pack, cut with sanitized scisors and pour in the yeast. The starter wort doesn't have to be a specific temperature, but I wouldn't pitch if its over 80F. Shake the bejuses out of it to aerate. When you walk by it, give it a shake or swirl.

At this point you have 2 options.

1 - pitch the starter into your wort when its at high krausen
2 - wait 72 hours, refrigerate to drop out the yeast, decant off most of the liquid and pitch the slurry. This method is more common with huge starters for lagers.

Hope this helps.

mikeysab 10-11-2009 10:19 PM

Wow, that's a lot more info than I was expecting, but I do love that you gave it to me. I feel I should tell you that I have very limited access to ingredients and equipment. I don't have a LHBS, and use the internet for EVERYTHING I need. So the only thing I have right now is the kit. It consists of a 13 lb bag of LME, two pouches of hops, flavoring spices, and a pouch of yeast that refuses to bulge. I'd really rather not cut the bag open and take out a small amount of LME out. I do have a box of dextrose leftover from a coopers kit. Is it possible to use that in the starter? Thanks a bunch for your help ed. Wish I could hook you up with a bottle when this monster bottles.

ChshreCat 10-11-2009 10:24 PM

Silly thing to point out, but sometimes the inner pack is REALLY hard to get broken. My last one took me about 10 minutes of smacking, squeezing and pounding before it finally broke. Are you sure it popped?

passedpawn 10-11-2009 11:36 PM

Try to find the inner pouch. You CAN feel it in there, about the size of a ketchup packet. If you find it, work it into the corner of the pouch and give it a good hard smack.

What's the date on your pack. The advice about old packs taking longer is good... my experience, exactly.

nostalgia 10-11-2009 11:48 PM

I'm pretty sure it also says this on the back of the smack-pack, but if you go to the link here:


Originally Posted by Wyeast Labs
Full swelling of Activator™ packages is not required for their use. The contents of Activator™ packages may be direct-pitched without prior activation. Our smack pack technology is intended to be a tool for your use in determining viability, and in initiating metabolism for faster starts to fermentation.


Edcculus 10-12-2009 12:32 AM

Another note, the inner pouch is not the yeast, its a nutrient. If you can't get it to pop, no big deal, like Nostalgia said.

I can see what you mean about cutting open the bag of LME. The dextrose won't work. You don't want to grow yeast in pure sugar. It will be "programmed" to be lazy and not ferment the maltose and other sugars.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Go as normal for now. Expect a slow start. Make sure to aerate like crazy. Lots of oxygen will help the yeast grow and finish.

2. Brew the beer, put it in your sanitized fermenter. Pull some wort out, dilute it and make a starter. If you sanitize very well, it will be ok if you don't pitch right away. Wait until the starter kicks off, and pitch it at high krausen.

3. On the day you are brewing, pull out the amount of LME I stated above and make a starter while you are brewing. Do what I said in #2 about putting the wort in a sanitized fermenter.

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