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Old 09-16-2013, 09:19 PM   #1
Awfers
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Default Swollen Wyeast packs prior to smacking

Hi all,

I went to go activate my Wyeast Weihenstephan 3068 packs and they were a bit swollen prior to smacking. Instead of being the normal 1cm thick, they were 2cm thick.

The production date is December 2012, so they're 9 months old, but I bought them from the store myself and put them in the Fridge at 4°C since.

A bit of poking about on Wyeast's site and I find:

"Activator™ packages will sometimes swell slightly, or moderately during shipping or later while properly stored. This is not an indication of deterioration if the package is less than 6 months old and has been properly handled. This is result of trace amounts of nutrients, still available at the time packaging, causing small amount of culture activity and CO2 production. Some strains are more prone to this than others."

Now, both 3068 packs are a bit swollen, but the Bavarian Wheat (3068) packs aren't showing this behavior, and they're the same age.

So, is the pre-smack swelling and age of packs anything to worry about in your collective experiences ?

Thanks,
Awfers

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Old 09-16-2013, 09:35 PM   #2
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I think you answered your own question with the quote from the wyeast site. 9 month old yeast isn't in very good shape no matter what the package looks like. Make a starter and what's left alive will take off, but don't expect top quality at this point.

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Old 09-16-2013, 09:53 PM   #3
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As mentioned, viability of cells will be low, no where near 100B cells for sure! You will need a starter and may need at least 1-2 additional steps to build it up to proper pitch rate. If you have never done this you can refer to http://www.yeastcalc.com and it will tell you everything you need to know about the starter and how many steps to get what you need

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Old 09-18-2013, 09:29 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I will do a starter today.

Interesting note: After popping both of them on Monday evening, the Bavarian Wheat pack is only about 3cm thick now, where as the Weihenstephan pack is HUGE, almost bursting at the seams. I've covered it inside from tupperwear bowls in case it explodes before I can do the starter.

Cheers,
Awfers

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Old 09-19-2013, 03:20 AM   #5
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I have a similar situation. The Wyeast smack pack I ordered from NorthernBrewer.com arrived last week already swollen, and I couldn't break the nutrient pack inside without popping the entire package. I made a yeast starter from the pack (my first time making a starter and using liquid yeast, but I followed the instructions very carefully) and it's currently in the refrigerator in preparation for brew day Saturday. I noticed no signs of fermentation in the starter, but I've read there often won't be visible signs of activity. Hopefully it will work as it should.

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Old 09-19-2013, 03:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matta2k View Post
I have a similar situation. The Wyeast smack pack I ordered from NorthernBrewer.com arrived last week already swollen, and I couldn't break the nutrient pack inside without popping the entire package. I made a yeast starter from the pack (my first time making a starter and using liquid yeast, but I followed the instructions very carefully) and it's currently in the refrigerator in preparation for brew day Saturday. I noticed no signs of fermentation in the starter, but I've read there often won't be visible signs of activity. Hopefully it will work as it should.
There should definitely be visible signs of fermentation in a starter. I'd contact retailer and tell them your yeast got cooked in the mail. If they don't send you a new one, find somewhere else to shop.
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Old 09-20-2013, 01:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNGabe View Post
There should definitely be visible signs of fermentation in a starter. I'd contact retailer and tell them your yeast got cooked in the mail. If they don't send you a new one, find somewhere else to shop.
Thanks for the input. I've contacted NorthernBrewer and we'll see what they say. I didn't think it was very smart of them to send yeast to Arizona where the temps are over a hundred, and not include an ice pack. I plan to brew tomorrow so I suppose I'll use the dry yeast I have on hand. So much for my first attempt at going liquid.
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Old 09-20-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
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Did you take a gravity reading of the starter? Contrary to the above post, not all starters show a visible sign of anything. If the gravity dropped and there is a viable layer of yeast on the bottom after cold crashing then your starter is fine.

As per wyeast's website a swollen pack does not mean there is a defect in the package or viability of the yeast. Also, most retailers will ship yeast with a cold pack if you request it and pay extra, it is not standard procedure and Northern brewer is not responsible if you didn't request it.

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Old 09-20-2013, 11:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
Did you take a gravity reading of the starter? Contrary to the above post, not all starters show a visible sign of anything. If the gravity dropped and there is a viable layer of yeast on the bottom after cold crashing then your starter is fine.

As per wyeast's website a swollen pack does not mean there is a defect in the package or viability of the yeast. Also, most retailers will ship yeast with a cold pack if you request it and pay extra, it is not standard procedure and Northern brewer is not responsible if you didn't request it.
First, it was MoreBeer.com not Northern Brewer. My mistake.

I did not take a gravity reading. There is a layer of yeast at the bottom of the starter.

If I pitch this yeast and the fermentation doesn't start after several days would it be harmful to try again with new yeast?

Thanks.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:24 PM   #10
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No, no harm at all, but the longer the time without fermentation the easier it is for an infection to take hold.

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