Starter from Smack Pack

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Paddington
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Starter from Smack Pack

Post by Paddington » Mon May 28, 2018 7:00 am

I normally use White Labs yeast but for this brew, I’ve had to get the Wyeast equivalent. Should I activate the smack pack and pitch the lot into my starter medium or take out the yeast sachet and just pitch that?

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by McMullan » Mon May 28, 2018 7:33 am

The small sachet inside the pack is a proprietary yeast nutrient, not the yeast. Looks like this:

Image

You could resuspend the yeast by shaking the pack then open and pitch into your starter. Make sure the yeast and the starter wort are at the same temperature (leave them in the same place for an hour or two). After pitching into the starter you could add the contents of the nutrient sachet.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by Paddington » Mon May 28, 2018 9:16 am

OK, sounds like I got it the wrong way round, the yeast is in the main pack, the nutrient is in the inner sachet. That's very helpful, thanks.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by PeeBee » Mon May 28, 2018 10:07 am

I always "smack" the pack and three hours later bung it in the starter.

I brew 45L+ at a time, so those "smack packs" need to go through a two step starter routine.
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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by Aub » Mon May 28, 2018 11:11 am

I have used the smack packs many times and just smack the pack and give it a good shake and pitch it straight into the starter. If you like you can smack it an hour or so before pitching but it makes no difference in my experience. I have not had any problems using this method.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by McMullan » Mon May 28, 2018 7:33 pm

Aub wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 11:11 am
I have used the smack packs many times and just smack the pack and give it a good shake and pitch it straight into the starter. If you like you can smack it an hour or so before pitching but it makes no difference in my experience. I have not had any problems using this method.
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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by Paddington » Wed May 30, 2018 9:50 am

Thanks for all of that. It does beg the question of what the point of a smack pack is. Unless you get a brand new pack and you’re brewing a short and/or weak brew you’re going to have to use a starter in any case. The smack pack is why I normally use White Labs.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by PeeBee » Wed May 30, 2018 11:16 am

Paddington wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 9:50 am
Thanks for all of that. It does beg the question of what the point of a smack pack is. Unless you get a brand new pack and you’re brewing a short and/or weak brew you’re going to have to use a starter in any case. The smack pack is why I normally use White Labs.
A while ago (and "smack packs" have been with us for a while) these "smack packs" had to compete with dried yeast packets that nearly all home-brewers used. They weren't quite as convenient as grabbing a packet of dried and chucking it in, but it was a reasonable attempt (if expensive).


Now-a-days many home-brewers have their own stir-plates, and consider culturing yeast as part of the process. "Smack packs" are a bit of a hang-over from past times.


We don't pay a premium to have "smack packs", and there are still plenty of folk using them as originally intended. There is no reason to consider the lack of "smack pack" is an advantage.
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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by Paddington » Wed May 30, 2018 5:43 pm

Yes, but in almost all circumstances you are taking a risk if you smack them and use them direct. My smack pack had an estimated 50 billion cells, which means it’s underpitching any reasonable brew by a fair bit. Having said that, when I first used a liquid yeast and had no idea what I was doing, I used one as intended and it worked fine. I know there is an argument that the calculators we all use are wildly wrong.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by McMullan » Thu May 31, 2018 8:54 am

The idea behind Wyeast’s smack pack allows the home brewer to gauge the condition of the yeast. Far from being a 'hang-over' from the past. When smacked, the fresh nutrients promote a response by the yeast. If it swells completely within a few hours, it might be acceptable to pitch a pack or two directly, depending on the volume and SG of the planned wort. I’d smack 4-5 days before brew day, leaving plenty of time for a starter, if required. About 6 million viable cells per ml wort is a good rate for most ales, <1.055, in my experience. I aim to get 19L into a keg so I brew more than 19L. 23L in the FV works for me. It provides enough for sampling, FV loses and guarantees a full keg. 23L of wort requires about 138 billion viable yeast cells. A Wyeast pack contains about 100 billion viable cells, when packaged. They contain less viable cells by the time we receive them. Unless 2-3 active packs are going to be pitched, I’d say always make a starter.

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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by PeeBee » Thu May 31, 2018 9:36 am

McMullan wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 8:54 am
The idea behind Wyeast’s smack pack allows the home brewer to gauge the condition of the yeast. Far from being a 'hang-over' from the past. ...
Aye, but that's if using as intended. My last "smack pack" failed to expand after 4 hours but went into the starter anyway, where it soon proved it was viable. If I was using as intended (for direct pitch) it would have been a source of anxiety. I've never used one "as intended", they always go in a starter, so I don't give much credence to whether they expand or not. I've never used one close to its "best-before-date" either (nor would I).

So I hold to my description of them being a "hang-over". But if using as intended I guess the "smack pack" is far from being a "hang-over"?
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Re: Starter from Smack Pack

Post by McMullan » Thu May 31, 2018 10:33 am

Nor do I, use them as intended. What I typed was more for those who insist on doing so. Most ale fermentations should be done after about 72 hours, which is unlikely without a starter.

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