Smack Pack Starter Newb Question

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:


Jan 18, 2011
Reaction score
Ok. i'm getting ready for Batch number 6. I've been using the smack packs for my 5 gallon ale's and have been pleased.

But i think i need to learn how to do starters and want to confirm that i'm doing this correctly.

My next batch will be 5 gallons with a target OG of 1.064. i still plan on using a smack pack.. but i think i want to use it as a starter.

Are these steps correct. Based on

- 3 days before brewing.. smack the pack
- Wait for it to swell.
- Mix 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of dme
- Boil for 10 minutes
- Put in 1L Flask
- Aerate
- pour in smack pack
- cover with tin foil
- Wait 3 days
- Brew 5 gallon batch and pour the whole thing into the frementer.

Anything sound off with that plan?


Well-Known Member
Apr 18, 2007
Reaction score
West Chicago 'Burbs
First, if you're making a starter with a smack pack, there's no reason you have to wait for it to swell - that's just a non-quantitative measure to test viability. All that's in the part you break open is yeast nutrient and small amount of unfermented wort, but not enough to encourage sufficient propagation. So, you can basically save yourself a couple of hours there.

Second, for a 1.064, that starter still isn't going to be appropriate. If you're just letting it sit on your counter at ambient temp (assuming around 70 degrees F), you'll need about 3 litres, and if you can shake it every now and then, you'll need about 2L. Go here for further information on appropriate pitching rates.

Third, 3 days is more than enough - 2 is usually just fine. Just for reference, S. Cerevisiae double once approximately every 2 hours at 86F, so cutting that temperature down to your ambient, you'll anticipate a little bit longer. Just some things to think about as you plan your process, factoring in exactly how many cells you wish to generate.

Last, I like to decant the spent wort from the top of the yeast before pitching. I just cold crash the starter the night before brewing. Then, as you get your brewday underway, take the yeast out of the fridge and decant the wort. If you're feeling adventurous, take some of the wort after you get your boil going, cool it down, and throw it back on top of the yeast starter. This wakes them back up and helps equilibrate the temp. You'll want the temp of the yeast to match the wort when you pitch to avoid shocking the cells.