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russki

Liquid yeast: Theory and Practice (PSA)

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There's been a lot of talk about yeast on the Borg lately, and I wanted to discuss one thing that has not been beaten to death yet - liquid yeast viability. and to a lesser extent, reasons for using liquid vs. dry yeast.

Many brewers out there perceive liquid yeast as being "fresher" and "superior" to dry yeast. THAT IS A MYTH!!! Most modern dry yeasts are vastly superior when it comes to count, viability and healthiness of yeast cells. Then why use liquid yeast at all? One word: variety. Most yeasts are only available in liquid form, and if you want to brew authentic to style, you have no choice but to use liquid yeast.

Most dry yeast will keep for 2-3 years without a sizable decrease in viability or cell count. On the other hand, liquid yeast - including smack-packs, vials, or washed yeast deteriorates rapidly after manufacture. For example, a month after manufacture date, only 75% of cells are still viable. Two month, only 55%... Six months - only 10%!!!! Out of the estimated 100 billion cells in a pack, you have only 10 billion left. That's like half a packet of fromunda!

When buying any liquid yeast, always check the manufacture date. If planning to pitch directly - make sure the yeast is NO MORE THAN ONE MONTH OLD!!!

If your liquid yeast has been sitting around a while, or you're making a high-gravity ale, or any real lager - MAKE A YEAST STARTER. It's very easy - add 6 oz of DME to 2 quarts of water, boil for 15 minutes, cool to below 80F, put into a sanitized jug, pitch the yeast, shake to aerate well, cover opening with foil and wait until the krausen falls. After krausen falls, place the jug in the fridge to drop the yeast, decant and discard most liquid, and pitch the slurry into your wort.

Allow time for the yeast starter to do its thing - depending on how old your yeast is, it may take a long time. I usually make my starters on Monday for Friday night brewing session.

The last 2 qt starter I made on Monday night with 6-month old Bohemian Lager Yeast took 48 hours to just show activity and is still actively fermenting. It'll go in the fridge tonight.

Having said that, I've had starters ferment out in 24 hours after pitching. As soon as krausen falls, and there's no more activity in the starter, put it in the fridge until your brew day! This puts the least stress on yeast cells.

I will finish my rant with this:
Beer is a quarter malt, a quarter hops, a quarter water, and a quarter yeast. Do not make 75% beer! Pitch plenty of viable yeast, and your beer (and your taste buds) will thank you.

This has been you Public Service Announcement for today!

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I'll add:

Bookmark this page.
Jamil is not only a homebrewing God who recently opened his own brewery (Heretic, which is "nearby" - but too far to really get to), but he's considered a leader authority on yeast. This tool is invaluable. Period.

Oh yeah, he also recently wrote a book on yeast with Chris White of WhiteLabs.

So there.

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Excellent information, russki.

I only have one nit to pick, and that's because I'm a pedantic ol' fuddy-duddy.

But yeast is not 1/4 of your beer. It's one of four ingredients. Beer is mostly water, let's face it. They're not equally represented as four quarters of the whole.

That being said, and I've pointed out in other threads, with only four basic ingredients, there's nowhere to hide and no other ingredients to pick up the slack.

I make my own barbecue sauce, and it's got at least 14 ingredients in it. If I put in 1/2 teaspoon too much dry mustard, you think it's going to be noticed? Not likely. But a miscalculation on the malt bill or the hops boil, or using an improper or stale yeast, can wreak havoc on a beer. It throws the whole thing out of whack.

When I use dry yeast, I rehydrate it, but I'm leaning more and more toward vials of liquid yeast, because of the versatility and variety. I'll be certain to look at the manufacture date from now on.

I've always maintained that, for grains, fresher is better, and I love the AG recipes I'm making, in no small part because I buy the whole grains the day before I brew, and crush it minutes before mashing. Now I see that freshness applies to yeast, as well.

Good post.

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"FedoraDave" post=251244 said:

Excellent information, russki.

I only have one nit to pick, and that's because I'm a pedantic ol' fuddy-duddy.

But yeast is not 1/4 of your beer. It's one of four ingredients. Beer is mostly water, let's face it. They're not equally represented as four quarters of the whole.


Dave - I didn't mean literally 1/4... You are correct in saying it's one of 4 ingredients, however, in my opinion, all four are equally important. To me, underpitching is, to use a BBQ sauce analogy, is like underseasoning - it'll still be BBQ sauce, but not as good.

Mmm... BBQ... We gotta start a recipe thread...

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If only there were a Mr. Malty for BBQ sauce...maybe I could pitch the right amount of seasonings so my homemade BBQ sauces wouldn't suck so much. FD, wanna get on that?

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"russki" post=251255 said:

"FedoraDave" post=251244 said:

Excellent information, russki.

I only have one nit to pick, and that's because I'm a pedantic ol' fuddy-duddy.

But yeast is not 1/4 of your beer. It's one of four ingredients. Beer is mostly water, let's face it. They're not equally represented as four quarters of the whole.


Dave - I didn't mean literally 1/4... You are correct in saying it's one of 4 ingredients, however, in my opinion, all four are equally important. To me, underpitching is, to use a BBQ sauce analogy, is like underseasoning - it'll still be BBQ sauce, but not as good.

Mmm... BBQ... We gotta start a recipe thread...

All four ingredients are definitely of equal importance. As I pointed out, with only four ingredients, there's nothing to pick up the slack if one of them is lacking. It'll still be beer, but not as good, and we do this all the time. I use my tap water for all my beers, so even when I'm brewing to style, I'm not, strictly speaking. I can't make a genuine Czech Pilsner, because my water profile will never replicate that water which defines the original pilsner. That won't stop me from making a "pilsner", though.

No arguments on your basic point, that being that fresher ingredients make better beer, and fresh, healthy yeast is a vital component.

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"SenorPepe" post=251284 said:

If only there were a Mr. Malty for BBQ sauce...maybe I could pitch the right amount of seasonings so my homemade BBQ sauces wouldn't suck so much. FD, wanna get on that?

My BBQ sauce recipe has been shared only with my brother, and I know he'd make his own modifications anyway. Other than that, it'll probably be willed to my children on the stipulation that they never divulge my secrets.

Yes, my sauce is that good.

As far as sauce in general, experimentation is important, but there are four aspects that all sauces must have, be they tomato based or vinegar/mustard based.

1. Saltiness
2. Sourness
3. Sweetness
4. Spiciness

The salt you get from salt. That's pretty straightforward. Sourness can be vinegar, lemon juice, something like that, or a combination. Sweetness is probably the most wide-open field. Everything from table sugar and honey to molasses or grape jelly can be used. Needless to say, they'll all bring something different to the table, and I use a combination of sweet ingredients. Spiciness is usually the addition of a hot sauce, and you'll have to find which one you prefer. Me, I like Cholula, but Franks Red Hot and Tabasco, or even chopping up some jalapenos and other hot peppers and adding them is not out of the question.

Other spices, such as dry mustard, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, black and white pepper, etc., can be added as you see fit. Then there's my secret ingredient. Well, it's not really a secret: it's Jack Daniels whiskey, but what I do with it is the secret.

And I ain't tellin'. :P

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"FedoraDave" post=251362 said:

"SenorPepe" post=251284 said:

Then there's my secret ingredient. Well, it's not really a secret: it's Jack Daniels whiskey, but what I do with it is the secret.

And I ain't tellin'. :P


Lemme guess... you sip on it as you're making your BBQ sauce! :gulp:

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"russki" post=251364 said:

"FedoraDave" post=251362 said:

"SenorPepe" post=251284 said:

Then there's my secret ingredient. Well, it's not really a secret: it's Jack Daniels whiskey, but what I do with it is the secret.

And I ain't tellin'. :P


Lemme guess... you sip on it as you're making your BBQ sauce! :gulp:
Well, I do save a mouthful for when I'm done simmering the sauce down to the consistency I want. My reward for slaving over a batch of BBQ sauce.

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