Wyest Activator Yeast question

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Feb 23, 2010
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I did 2 batches yesterday at our clubs Brew Out. I brewed a Sunset Red Ale which used a Windsor dry yeast. This is bubbling nicely and the process was very seamless. I also brewed an Amarillo Hop India Pale Ale which uses the smack pack activator from Wyest.

I smacked the pack really hard and thought it all broke open before I pitched however I have a sneaky suspicion that it didn't open all the way. I checked on both batches this morning and only one is bubbling really well. On the Amarillo IPA's airlock, I have a little more water in it. I see a couple of bubbles at the top but it's not going crazy like the Red Ale.

How long should I go before I am really worried that I blew my beer? The kit was around $40 so I don't want it to go to waste.


Probably about 3 - 4 days. I would always use a starter for any liquid yeast. If you don't, they take a long time to get going.

I wouldn't worry about it at all unless you go close to a week without any activity. With a smack pack it's better to use a starter but the idea is that you shouldn't. While there's plenty of yeast in the pack it's still going to take some time to get going. If you were brewing a bigger beer like a barleywine you would need the starter but you should be just fine here.
I didn't know if having too much water in the airlock would have any affect of the bubbling. The airlock is a little over half full.
The part that is broke open when you smack the pack does not actually contain the yeast. You can brew with those unsmacked. From my understanding, the smack pack is just to ensure the viability of the yeast.

Did the pack swell up?

(from wyeast website www.wyeastlabs.com)

1. Is the yeast in the small inner packet or in the foil pouch itself?

The yeast is in the main foil pouch. The small inner packet contains the sterile nutrient and wort that feeds the yeast before it is added to your fermenter.

2. Can I use an Activator package without activating it and waiting for it to swell? ?

Yes. An Activator pack has enough yeast in it to pitch 5 gallons whether it is activated or not. There will only be a slightly longer lag time if the package is not activated before use. In any case, the nutrient pack should be popped before using because it contains valuable nutrients.

hope this helps..
Thanks so much for that. I feel less anxious knowing that it will just take an extra day or so. Since the yeast was in the outer pack, it should be ok. It didn't swell us for us but we had it on ice and pitched like we normally pitch the dry yeast. We should have let it sit for a while to activate. Oh well, I guess this is how you learn.:)
I recently smacked an activator and it did not swell after a day. I pitched it in a starter anyways. It was fermenting nicely after 12 hours. I pitched the starter in my brew at 50F as I do with all lagers, and after 1.5 days, it is now starting to bubble nicely.