Dry beer yeast is a type of yeast that is typically sold in a dehydrated form. It is used in the fermentation process to convert sugars in the wort (unfermented beer) into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Dry yeast is considered to be a convenient alternative to liquid yeast, as it is more shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration. It can also be stored for longer periods of time than liquid yeast.
Dry yeast is typically added to the wort directly and will begin fermenting once rehydrated and activate. It can ferment at a wider range of temperatures than liquid yeast.
Due to its convenience, dry yeast has become a popular choice among home brewers and professional breweries alike.
The Different Types Of Dry Beer Yeast
There are several different strains of yeast that can be used in brewing beer, each with its own unique characteristics that can affect the flavor, aroma, and alcohol content of the final product. Some of the most common types include:
Saccharomyces cerevisiae: This is a commonly used strain of yeast for fermenting ales. It ferments at a relatively warm temperature and produces a wide range of flavors and aromas, including fruity, spicy, and floral notes.
Saccharomyces pastorianus (lager yeast): This is a strain of yeast that is used to ferment lagers. It ferments at cooler temperatures and produces a cleaner, crisper flavor.
Saccharomyces carlsbergensis: This is a strain of yeast that is used to ferment lagers, it is especially suited for producing beers with a high alcohol content.
Brettanomyces: This is a wild yeast strain that is often used in combination with S. cerevisiae to produce beers with a unique, funky flavor profile. It is most commonly used in styles like Belgian sours, lambics, and farmhouse ales.
Eubayanus: This is a yeast strain that is able to ferment at low temperatures and is used for lagers, particularly for cold-fermented beers.
The options for the yeast that can be used are expanding as new strains are being discovered and developed.
Yeast strain selection is one of the factors that can greatly impact the final product, but not the only one.
Temperature, humidity, timing, and other factors such as the type of, malt, hops, and water used will also play a role in the final flavor profile of the beer.
How Long Does Dry Beer Yeast Last?
Dry beer yeast typically has a shelf life of around two years when stored in a cool, dry place. However, the yeast’s effectiveness can begin to decline after about six months to a year, and its ability to ferment may be greatly reduced by the time it reaches two years old.
The viability of the yeast can be affected by factors such as temperature, humidity, and exposure to air.
High temperatures and humidity can cause the yeast to degrade more quickly, while exposure to air can allow the yeast to absorb moisture and become contaminated.
To ensure that the yeast remains as fresh and viable as possible, it should be stored in an airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag or an airtight jar, and kept in a cool, dry place away from direct light.
Testing Yeast Freshness
If you are unsure about the freshness of your dry yeast, there are a couple of tests that can be made before using it.
One of them is to rehydrate the yeast and check its cell count, a high cell count would mean that the yeast is viable and ready to use, a low cell count can indicate that the yeast may have lost most of its activity and should not be used.
Another way to test it is doing a yeast starter, where you can check for signs of fermentation and cell activity before adding it to your main batch.
Note: It’s advisable to use yeast within its first year, or at least to check its cell count and do a yeast starter. Even if the yeast was properly stored and has reached its two years mark, it may not perform as well as fresher yeast.
Storage Tips for Dry Beer Yeast
Here are some tips for storing dry beer yeast to ensure its freshness and viability:
Keep it dry: Yeast should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct light. High humidity can cause the yeast to absorb moisture and become contaminated, which can negatively impact its ability to ferment.
Avoid temperature extremes: Yeast should be stored at a consistent, cool temperature, ideally between 35-45°F (2-7°C). Avoid storing yeast in a place that is exposed to high temperatures, such as near a stove or in a hot car, as this can cause the yeast to degrade more quickly.
Use airtight containers: Yeast should be stored in an airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag or an airtight jar, to protect it from exposure to air and moisture.
Avoid exposure to light: Yeast should be stored in a dark place, exposure to light can cause the yeast to degrade more quickly.
Check for freshness: If you are unsure about the freshness of your yeast, rehydrate a small sample and check for signs of cell activity, such as bubbles or foam, which indicate that the yeast is still viable.
Mark the date of packaging: It’s a good idea to mark the date of packaging on the yeast container, or in a piece of paper inside the container so you know the freshness of your yeast when you use it.
By following these storage tips, you can help to ensure that your dry yeast remains fresh and viable for as long as possible, and is ready to use when you are ready to brew your next batch of beer.
The Best Way To Use Dry Beer Yeast
There are a few different ways to use dry beer yeast in the brewing process, but the best method will depend on the specific yeast strain and the type of beer you are making. Here are a few general guidelines for using dry yeast:
Rehydration: Before using dry yeast, it should be rehydrated in warm water (around 95-104°F or 35-40°C) with a pinch of sugar or Go-Ferm ( a special yeast nutrient) for around 15 minutes. This will help to activate the yeast and ensure that it is ready to ferment.
Pitch the yeast: After rehydration, the yeast should be pitched (added) to the cooled wort. Pitching the yeast at the right temperature can help to ensure optimal fermentation and prevent off-flavors.
Aeration: Aerating the wort is important for yeast metabolism, oxygen in the wort can be introduced by shaking the fermenter, using an aeration stone, or by splashing the wort while transferring it. Proper aeration can help to promote the growth of yeast and ensure a healthy fermentation.
Temperature: Keep the fermentation temperature within the yeast’s optimal range for fermentation, for example, lager yeast should be fermented at a cooler temperature of around 45-55°F (7-13°C), and ale yeast at a warmer temperature of 60-72°F (15-22°C)
Final gravity: Monitor the gravity of your beer, when it reaches the final gravity it’s time to move to the next step of the brewing process, typically the beer should be transferred to the secondary fermenter or lagered for a certain period of time.
Each yeast strain has its own specific fermentation temperature, alcohol tolerance, and nutrient requirements. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consult the yeast’s manual or product information to confirm if there are any special instructions for that specific strain.
By following these guidelines and paying attention to the specific needs of your yeast strain and the type of beer you are making, you can help to ensure that your dry yeast performs at its best and produces a high-quality beer.
In conclusion, dry beer yeast is a convenient and shelf-stable alternative to liquid yeast that can be used in the fermentation process to convert sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
To ensure that the yeast remains fresh and viable, it should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct light, and in an airtight container.
Proper sanitation and the correct use of yeast nutrients, rehydration, aeration, and temperature control are key factors to have a successful fermentation.
By following these guidelines, you can help to ensure that your dry yeast performs at its best and produces a high-quality beer.