Yeast health is one of the most important parts of brewing. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most overlooked. The law is simple: happy yeast makes good beer; stressed yeast makes flawed beer. And no one wants a flawed beer.
Here are five steps to happy yeast.
While dry yeast works perfectly fine, liquid yeast opens dozens of new doors to the homebrewer. There are far more liquid strains available than dry, which means more brewing possibilities. It also means that some beer styles can only be made with liquid yeast.
The easiest way to improve yeast health is by increasing cell count. To do so, you'll need to make a yeast starter. Starters are small volumes of malt sugar solutions given to the yeast that allows it to eat, reproduce and build energy reserves for the fermentation process.
Making a starter can be a bit of a headache. It can take around an hour, and be almost as much work as brewing the beer itself. The good news? You can get Fast Pitch, which streamlines the process for a headache-free yeast starter. All you do is crack open the can, dilute with potable water and voila - instant yeast starter.
This is especially important for liquid yeast. When you buy liquid yeast, put it in the fridge ASAP. Left out of the fridge, it will die a slow, painful death. Dry yeast, on the other hand, lasts at room temperature for much longer.
However, when it comes time to oxygenate your wort (see tip #4), regardless of whether you used liquid or dry yeast, temperature is paramount. You should always wait until your brew has cooled to fermentation temperatures before oxygenating.
Many brewers overlook the importance of oxygenation. We think: well, we don't want air to get into our beer, right? Not quite. Oxygen is an important component of fermentation. No oxygen can easily lead to stressed yeast.
The easiest method of oxygenation is to agitate your wort, either by swirling it around or dumping it from sanitized bucket to sanitized bucket. If you want to get more advanced, you can use an oxygenation or aeration kit. We have an entire collection of affordable gear meant for just this step.
As we mentioned before, dry yeast works perfectly fine. When choosing yeast, take your brewing habits into consideration. If you don't have adequate refrigeration for storing liquid strains, or if your yeast needs to sit on the shelf for more than 3 months, dry is the choice for you.