February 22, 2010

In defense of dry yeast

I come to you today, dear reader, to protect and defend the humble dried yeast sachet. I have known and used many dried yeasts, and developed an appreciation for their virtues.

Five reasons to use dry yeast:
1.) Dry yeast have a long shelf life. Like, really long, usually 1-3 years.
2.) Since the yeast is freeze dried, it is much more resilient to varying storage conditions. Many people store their dried yeast at room temperature, while others store them in colder conditions.
3.) With dry yeast, there is no need to make a starter. The 11 gram sachets contain plenty of viable yeast. With standard pitching conditions, one sachet can easily ferment comparably to liquid yeasts. Though assessing viability can be tricky, it is easily remedied by buying a second sachet.
4.) Dry yeast is, in my experience, the best solution for ensuring adequate bottle conditioning for beers that are high in alcohol, have been cold conditioned for a long time, or may generally have less than optimal cell count for bottle conditioning. Simply add half a packet of dried yeast in the bottling bucket, stir gently, and bottle as normal.
5.) Dry yeast is inexpensive. This is a very useful thing to keep in mind, especially when making an experimental all-Strisselspalt hopbursted Belgian IPA, or blackened pale ale. I often use a sachet of US-05 or Nottingham for such situations, because I know there's a small chance the product will be destined for the drain.

Consider the dry yeast, in all its virtues!


  1. Been brewing with a dry yeast - Saflager w-34/70 - all winter long. It's now my favorite lager strain. Not much cheaper than liquid, but who cares. The beer is so good! Lee at Oshkoshbeer.blogstpot.com

  2. Another benifit to dry yeast is that it is easy to measure the proper pitch rate and use for smaller batches like 1 gal. I have used several in the last few years and have always been happy with the results. Its also great to have around as a "backup" yeast in case your liquid doesn't fire up, or you do an impromptu brew session and don'thave time to culture up from a yeast bank. I wish there were more strains available!

  3. In my experience, I have found that there is no substitute for proper re-hydration of dry yeast. Beers that I've made by directly pitching dry yeast have turned out fine. But when I make the minimal effort to rehydrate my dry yeast, I have seen shorter lag times and picked up fewer 'yeasty' characteristics in the beer.

  4. I like the malt profile of S-33 in a Scotch Ale.