Yeast Questions

Yeast Questions
  • How long can I keep yeast? Liquid yeast is good for about 6 months, dry yeast for about 2 years. If you have a pack of yeast that you think is borderline, you can always do a yeast starter to build up the cell count.
  • Do I need to refrigerate yeast? Liquid yeast, yes. Dry yeast, no. It is best to let liquid yeast warm to room temp before adding it to your fermenter.
  • If I keep yeast in the freezer will it last longer? No, you’ll kill it. Only put it in the fridge.
  • I can’t find the yeast my recipe calls for, can I use a different strain? Certainly. They are all the same basic organism and all will ferment. Some strains have very dramatic characteristics while others are very neutral. The more similar the strains the more similar the flavor results.
  • Is liquid yeast better than dry yeast? Not necessarily. Dry yeast works just as well as liquid. The only advantage to liquid yeast is there are more strains available. Certain more exotic yeasts are not available in dry form. As long the particular yeast you want to use is available dry, use it with confidence.
  • I’m doing a small batch, how much yeast should I put in? The whole pack. A standard yeast pack is considered the minimum amount to ferment five gallons of beer, more is always better. If you’re only doing a gallon or two, sure half a pack should be enough to ferment it but what are you going to do with the other half? Just chuck it all in. It is nearly impossible to put in too much yeast.
  • What’s a yeast starter? Do I need to do it? A yeast starter is when you activate your yeast prior to brewing by feeding it malt extract. It’s not necessary but always helpful. Most brewers just mix some extract and nutrient with water, boil it for a few minutes, after it has cooled add you yeast and let it ferment for a day or two.  This will increase the cell count and cut down on fermentation lag time.
  • Can I re-use yeast? Yes. The easiest way is to just dump a new batch of wort on to the yeast cake in your fermenter. You can also harvest a sample and then build it up later by doing a yeast starter. Of course you increase your chances of fermentation problems, so if you don’t want to risk it, just buy a fresh pack.
  • Should I use yeast nutrient? Nutrient is like a multi-vitamin for yeast. It will work fine without it but the yeast will be healthier with it. Nutrient is usually recommended for high alcohol fermentations or beers that use a lot adjunct sugars.
  • If I add more yeast will I get more alcohol? Nope. The yeast turns sugars into alcohol, once the sugars are gone the yeast stops working. More sugar means more alcohol.
  • Can I make beer with wine or bread yeast and vice-versa? You can make anything with kind of yeast, it’s all the same basic organism. However, each strain has a “specialty” and will impart certain flavors. Playing around with different yeast can be a fun experiment but be prepared for some funky tasting results.
  • I can’t get my Wyeast “smack pack” to pop – WTF? Activator packs can be tricky. Try this: Place it on a sturdy counter top. Find the inner pouch, and then lean on it with the heel of your hand. Keep putting more weight on it until you feel it pop. If you really can’t get it to pop, no big deal. The inner pouch is only nutrient and the yeast will still work fine without it.
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