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Old 03-26-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
Brocster's Avatar
Mar 2009
Twin Cities
Posts: 279
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Hi everyone, thanks ahead of time for any responses!

I just got back into brewing after a "few" years off. While I design and build my AG setup (who know how long), I'll be partial mashing.

In my old days of brewing, I used either dry yeast or starters from some local brewery friends in Colorado. Today, there are a lot more choices it seems, and one that seems to make sense is the Activator smack packs from Wyeast.

Questions I have are:
- Are these good from your experience when looking at consistancy?
- Does a basic Activator pack provide enough yeast to properly pitch?

I would be willing to work a little harder to get some starters going if there is that much difference, but if the Activator fits the bill, I wil wait till I have my "home brewery" running again. I basically have no experience with the Activator and would appreciate any feedback or comments.

I typically or expect to brew 1.045 - 1.070 OG ESB's/Stouts/Ale's at this stage - mainly. Will use secondary and roughly 50/50 grain mash/extract on the grain bill.

Bottled: Imperial Hefe, Saison, Apfelwein
Kegged: ESB, Foundation Stout, Brothers English IPA, Kolsch, Bavarian Hefe
Secondary: Abbey Dubbel
Primary: Imperial Cherry Bavarian Hefe, Imperial Cherry Brussel Abbey
On Deck: World Class ESB, BKRye
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:44 PM   #2
conpewter's Avatar
Nov 2007
East Dundee, Illinois
Posts: 5,109
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You can directly use the activator pack (after it swells) but I found an improvement using starters so that I was not under-pitching. For the lower gravity beers you are doing an activator pack is probably ok... but I do a starter for everything. All of the higher grav brews you really should do one, it will make a noticeable difference.
"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." - V

Primary: Nothin
Secondary: Shady Lord RIS, Water to Barleywine, Pumpkin wine, burnt mead
Kegged: Crappy infected mild
Bottles: Apfelwein, 999 Barleywine, Oatmeal Stout, Robust Porter, Robust smoked porter, Simcoe Smash

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Old 03-26-2009, 06:46 PM   #3
Couevas's Avatar
Mar 2008
Seattle, WA
Posts: 450
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Wyeast s a very reputable supplier and one of choice for a lot of people on here. If allowed to fully "swell" a "smack pack" or Activator from Wyeast will have enough yeast to directly pitch to a low to medium gravity brew. If you are going medium to large or bigger, a starter is definately recommended.

However, I have pitched straight into wort many times with good results in the past. I use starters now all the time. It is the only way to know for sure if your yeast is viable. It also helps to get your brew fully attenuated if you pitch adequately.

Mr. Malty's site has a very, very conservative calculator for pitching rates. If you follow that, you will be golden.
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Old 03-26-2009, 07:22 PM   #4
CBBaron's Avatar
Feb 2007
Posts: 2,786
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Wyeast Activator packs and WhiteLabs Pitchable tubes both contain about 100 billion yeast cells. This is sufficient for pitching in a low gravity beer and will work in a moderate gravity beer. However it is recommended you make a starter for moderate gravity beers and is strongly suggested to necessary for high gravity beers.

Both Whitelabs and Wyeast products are excellent with a wide range of strains available. The range of yeast and bacteria strains available are the main advantage these producers have over the quality dry yeast producers.

I use primarily dry yeast (S-04, US-05 and Nottingham) however I do experiment at times with other strains from Wyeast or Whitelabs and use the liquid strains for styles not well covered by the dry yeasts i prefer.


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Old 03-27-2009, 01:13 AM   #5
Aug 2007
Posts: 152

The Wyeast smack packs are great, but I feel they are widely misunderstood. Smacking the pack and letting it inflate does not cause the yeast to multiply in a manner similar to a starter. It simply is a test for viability of the yeast in the package. I have pitched directly with the smack packs and done starters with them. I must say that the results even with a 1.050 beer are MUCH better with a starter. They are, however, great to pitch into a starter because after you smack them, the inner pack releases some yeast nutrient that will go into your starter. Just my .02


P.S. for anything in the range you are brewing as listed above, I would make a starter...mainly for yeast health in the lower OG range.

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