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-   -   Wyeast Pack not swelling (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/wyeast-pack-not-swelling-230166/)

Davida 03-06-2011 01:34 PM

Wyeast Pack not swelling
I am preparing to brew my 5TH batch of home brew today, a pale ale.
Last night I smacked the Wyeast #1028 London Ale and this AM there is no visible sign of swelling. This is third time I have used a Wyeast liquid package and have not seen this before. Every other time the package swelled up as advertised.

Should I replace the yeast before brewing?

JasonInBTR 03-06-2011 01:58 PM

Interesting. What is the date on the pack? I'm still a newb but in my dozen or so brews I haven't had a bad smack pack yet. Do you have something to build up a starter in? That would at least proof viability.


HubahHubah 03-06-2011 03:01 PM

You slapped it, but did the inner pack break?

Davida 03-07-2011 03:55 PM

Yes, the pack broke but still no action. The date on the pack is 19-Dec-2010. Weird, I've used Wyeast packs in three previous brews with no issue.

I did some research and found a similar string on the HBtalk site. It led me to Mrmalty.com which happens to have a program for calculating the pitch rate in starters (http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html). The program contains a calculation for viability of a Wyeast pack based on age. I was surprised to find out that my pack is already considered to be only 46% viable based on the date. The program says I would need a second Wyeast pack to make a starter to properly ferment the 5 gallon batch.

I will return this one and will be using some dry yeast I have on hand. Check out Mr. Malty. Lots of good info...

Golddiggie 03-07-2011 03:58 PM

With the pack being almost three months old, you need to give it TIME to swell. Where is it sitting now? Did you shake it to mix the nutrient in with the yeast?

I believe that Wyeast says to give it an extra day per month of age for the packet. So, three days for three month old yeast...

A starter would be a good idea too... I would plan on brewing in a few days, not today.

passedpawn 03-07-2011 04:06 PM

Every pack I've used bloated within 24 hours (most in much less than that) except one. It was 6 months old and took two full days. It made fine beer.

Try not to accept old smack packs.

It's possible that your smack pack was frozen at some point. If it never bloats, don't use it.

Golddiggie 03-07-2011 04:12 PM

And don't toss it out either... Take it back to where you got it from (assuming it's from a LHBS)... Or contact the vendor you bought it from. They should provide you with a replacement pack if it never swells. I think they draw the line after about 6 months, but it should still be good yeast.

If the LHBS didn't store it properly, then you're fighting a losing battle.

Personally, I won't by a Wyeast pack that's more than a few weeks old. I'll get the LHBS to order more, fresh, yeast for me before I buy something older than I'm comfortable with. Of course, where I get my yeast they have a high enough turn-over that it's never been an issue.

logan3825 03-07-2011 04:25 PM

I have used a smack pack that was more than 6 months old and made good beer with it. I did make a starter though.

Shooter 03-07-2011 05:08 PM

I have an old ale that's stalled out that I used a two or three month old Wyeast pack of 1028. Of course, mine started swelling within a few hours.

In truth, it's not completely the yeasts fault. I needed a 2.5 liter starter, but only had a 2 liter vessel available at the time. Good enough, I thought. I hit it with a heavy dose of oxygen, but being a 1.095 beer I wanted to hit it again at 12 hours, but missed my window. Ah well, I thought, I should be fine. Heck, I added yeast nutrient to help it along, I NEVER do that!!!

So, here I am kicking myself! :)

Revvy 03-07-2011 05:13 PM


From the horse's mouth.


From the Wyeast FAQ website:

3. Does the package need to be fully swollen before pitching?

No, The package can be pitched before activating, or at anytime during the activation process. The activation process "jump starts" the culture's metabolism, minimizing the lag phase.

You don't even really have to smack if you don't want to if you are making a starter, but you definitely don't need to wait for it to inflate. It sound's like you need to be making a decent sized starter, so that's the time you need to factor for, not whether it needs to be smacked or not.

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