Wyeast Direct Pitch Activator – The Home Brewing Smack Pack

Wyeast Activator packs are one of the most popular liquid yeast options. Learn about the Smack-Pack from brewmaster Brad. When your Wyeast smackpack is inflated, what do you do? We show you that it's almost always good to use and how you can use a sanitized pin to release the C02 from the bag and still smack that pack!

Video Transcript –
We often get questions about the Wyeast Activator Smack Packs, and since it is our best selling yeast brand, we thought this would be a good time for a tutorial and to address some of those questions.

The Wyeast Activator package is unique in it’s design in that it contains both the actual yeast culture and also an internal nutrient packet.

This internal nutrient package is what makes a Smack Pack a Smack Pack. Before using the yeast, the brewer is instructed to isolate this internal nutrient packet and rupture it to release the nutrients into the yeast slurry. This serves the purpose of kick-starting the yeast causing it to begin metabolism so it is ready to ferment your freshly prepared wort. Besides starting the yeast working, the Activator Smack Pack packaging also serves as a viability check so you know your yeast is active; when the Smack Pack swells, you can be 100% certain that the yeast is alive and healthy.

Although the Activator packs have this handy system in place for activating the yeast and visually checking the viability, they do certainly have some quirks.

The #1 question and concern we hear is that often times customers will receive their Wyeast pack and it is already partially swollen. Although it may seem as if the nutrient pack is already ruptured, this is rarely the case, and an expanded Wyeast Smack Pack is not indicative of mishandling or yeast viability issues.

This inflation really only affects a handful of yeast strains, notably American Ale 1056 and Belgian Strong Ale 1388. The expansion is due to trace levels of fermentables and residual CO2 present in the yeast slurry at the time of packaging. With temperature fluctuations and agitation, this residual CO2 can come out of solution and artificially inflate the Wyeast Activator pack.

You might wonder how to handle an already expanded pack? When a pack is expanded, it can be very difficult to locate and rupture the internal nutrient pack. There’s a trick for that. Simply take a well sanitized pin and make a small hole in the corner of the pack, and gently squeeze the air out until you can locate and burst the nutrient pack.

Now, with the nutrient pack ruptured, gently shake the Activator pack, open it, and add it to your wort.

Although it can be concerning to receive an inflated Smack Pack, just remember that expansion is quite normal for some strains and it is nothing to worry about. It is exceedingly rare that a Wyeast Smack Pack arrives dead.

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