Whenever I venture away from brewing my typical favorites, I always seem to run into an unexpected issue. The most recent special dark bitter I brewed had a rather sluggish fermentation. I have never had a beer take so long to ferment out. My only guess as to why, is a poorly transported yeast pack. The yeast and ice pack were both warm to the touch upon arrival. I didn't have time for a starter to reinvigorate the smack pack, so I boosted the cell count with some dry fermentis US-05. Even though I supplemented the WY1469 with US05, neither strain seemed to be very happy. Maybe these two don't play nice together. The result, a diacetyl and acetaldehyde laden, fusely mess of a beer. Honestly, its not undrinkable, but I've grown sensitive to diacetyl and can't stand even the suggestion of it. Lesson learned: vitality of yeast is more important than cell count.
Another factor to investigate; the ball valve on my boil kettle. I have had the kettle for around 6 years now and never attempted to remove the valve. I remember accidentally stripping the threads in trying to prevent any leakage when I first got the kettle, so I've never taken it off. I finally mustered enough courage, and wasn't pleased with what I found. Maybe the crud in between the washers and the ball were harboring some pedio or other bacteria which were contributing to the diacetyl and fusels. I soaked all the nuts and bolts in PBW for a few days, and was excited to brew knowing I had sparkling clean valve. Next up Suwannee!!! Pale Ale.