Take Pride In Your Beer By Learning About Yeast

Take Pride In Your Beer By Learning About YeastWithout yeast, mankind would not have beer. These helpful microorganisms, technically fungi, are entirely responsible for the transformation of a mere sludge of water and grain into a heady, delicious beer, through the process of converting the sugars in the grain into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The yeast you choose will drastically change the taste and character of your beer, sometimes even more than the ingredients you use. This is because different strains of yeast have different fermentation characteristics and produce different byproducts. It is these byproducts that are largely responsible for the unique taste of many famous beers. Every homebrewer should have at least a basic knowledge of the different types of yeast.

The first brewers were likely accidental. Yeast exists in the wild, floating through the air, and the first brewers probably just got lucky when a container of wet grain happened to catch some passing yeast that multiplied and created the first beer. Today’s brewers have an almost endless variety of choices. But before you select the perfect yeast for your beer, you first need to decide if you are going to go with dry or liquid yeast.

Dry yeast comes in packets whereas liquid yeast comes in capsules. Dry yeast is generally less expensive and is simpler and easier to use. Choose dry yeast if you just want to make a basic beer. Liquid yeast is pricier and more difficult to use, but is available in many more varieties.

No matter the type of yeast you get, treat it with respect and care. The yeast is your friend and you do not want it to come into contact with surfaces that are not sterilized. You need to give it time to do its work. Dry yeast should be “bloomed” prior to adding it to the wort. To bloom yeast, boil a half a cup of water and a teaspoon of sugar. Let the liquid cool to just above room temperature. It should feel warm to the touch but not hot. Add the yeast packets, stir, and let the mixture sit for about fifteen minutes. During this time, the water should turn foamy. This means that the yeast is returning to life. If your yeast water does not foam, the yeast in the packet was dead, and you need to find a new company to purchase your yeast from.

Liquid yeast usually needs to be made into a starter, which means giving it some time to work on part of your wort before adding it to the main fermentation vessel. This creates a higher population of yeast and increases your chances of a successful fermentation. Check with your supplier to see if your liquid yeast needs to be started. This process is more complicated than blooming and will not be covered in this article.

The two main categories of yeast track the two main categories of beer: ale and lager. Ale yeasts are top-fermenting, which means that they will float toward the top of the beer as it ferments. Some popular styles of beer made with top-fermenting yeasts are ales (of course), porters, most wheat beers, stouts, and German Altbier. These types of beer are typically highly carbonated and have a rich, foamy head.

The larger, heavier lager yeasts tend to sink to the bottom and are thus known as bottom-fermenting yeasts. Some of the types of beer that generally use lager yeasts include Bocks, Pilsners, and American-style malt liquor.

Beyond the choice between ale and lager, there are many hundreds of varieties of yeast for sale. Some additional subcategories include Belgian ales and yeasts that are specifically made for wheat beers. With the breadth of specialty yeasts for sale, it may be easier than you think to recreate your favorite beer at home.