From the HBD Archive
From: (Jack Schmidling)
Subject: Lager, Wyeast,
Date: 1992-03-08 15:03:00 GMT

To: Homebrew Digest
Fm: Jack Schmidling

For once, I counted ten before sending my knee-jerk response and I would like
to thank all those who sent me mail and/or objected publicly. I have
therefore edited my response to address the issues and not the person.

There is however, one personal issue that must be dealt with and it might as
well be in public because I assume many people are thinking along the same
lines as I am.

Jeff Frane has been the most vociferous advocate and promoter of liquid yeast
and Wyeast in particular. He has recently made it known that he is a
consultant for and writes technical manuals for Wyeast and therefore has a de
facto vested interest in promoting the product.

This can be taken as a "caveat emptor" or an opportunity for Jeff to defend

........... On to the issue....

It is obvious from reading the many and varied responses to my question, that
the tastes are highly variable, to the point that ale can be made to taste
like lager and vice versa. Therefore tasting different brands of the two
styles to get the feel is utterly useless. That is why I asked for
experience from anyone who has conducted experiments using the same batch of
wort but different (ale/lager) yeasts and fermenting temps.


>If you've tried liquid yeast and it hasn't improved your beer from dry
yeast, then you've got sanitation problems.

There are a zillion alternative iterations to that statement not the least of
which is just what is meant by "improved".

> Switching to Wyeast improved my beer a quantum leap -- no longer was it
unmistakably "home brewed"..

I can say the same for switching to Edme. It proves nothing other than that
there was something wrong with what we used before switching.

>>>Every day I give the relief valve a pull and get about a 3 second blast of
CO2. The gravity, however does not seem to be changing. The beer tastes OK.
Why is it not fermenting out?

>> I suspect you have unwittingly exploded the myth of "Wyeast purity".
Sounds like they cheated on the old family recipe and slipped you a bit of
Red Star.

>I think you are directing the blame in the wrong place -- I've never had a
problem with bacterial infection when I've used Wyeast and a recent batch
made with M&F dry yeast did.

The author of the original article said that he paid careful attention to
sanitation and that usually leads one to suspect the yeast.

> If there's a bacterial infection, I blame environment (dusty basement,
etc.) or technique (sanitizing the racking tube and then putting it on top of
the drier, etc.).

That is all, no doubt true, in general terms but you can not rule out the
possibility of the yeast being contaminated, no matter how hard liquid yeast
promoters try.

>From: Bob Jones <>

>Would any of you buy liquid cultures if pure dry yeast cultures were
available? I know I wouldn't. Why don't someone take the next step and
make dry yeast cultures? I would have never guessed brewers would pay
$3.50 for yeast. I suspect we all would pay even a little more for pure
dry yeast. Think of the advantages, more stable, higher pitch rates and no
breaking pouches. I would venture a guess that Wyeast would be out of
business almost overnight. Could it be that complex to take the next step
and vacuum dehydrate the pure liquid culture? Sounds like a good side
business for someone.

Probably a bit more than a side business but that is the only point I ever
tried to make in my original debate on the subject. But all it generated was
the same kind of rhetoric one gets talking about the quality of Japanese vs
American cars.

The standard answer is that the desirable strains are not capable of
surviving in the dried state.

My standard retorts are that people died from pneumonia before someone came
up with penicillin and we don't let Bud tell us what beer should taste like,
why should we let promoters of liquid yeast? If one likes the taste of beer
made with Edme, telling him that his process is unsanitary, is not very

Finally, to avoid unnecessary dialog, I have no particular opinion on the
various yeasts available (excepting Red Star) other than that the proof of
the pudding is in the eating. Anything said for a liquid culture COULD be
true for a dry culture and that is what my position has been all along and
Jones comes very close to putting the discussion on the appropriate track.


That was the end of my original posting sans about two pages of counter

To amplify and discuss some of the thoughts put out today, I will address the
predictable argument about the impossibility selecting for dry packaging.

Examples are too numerous to list, of successful selective breeding for
multiple characters.

Just take corn for example. Native corn, was/is about one inch long, had a
few dozen tiny kernels, grew in a limited climatic range and the production
would be measured in tortillas per acre, not bushels.

Producing a yeast with the appropriate characters for beer and at the same
time maintaining viability during drying is a trivial problem compared to
what agronomists have done with corn.

It is particularly trivial in light of the fact it takes a year to produce a
generation of corn and only minutes or hours for yeast. My guess is that it
could be done in less than a year. My experience with Edme would lead me to
believe that it already has but that is a different subject.

So why, if it is so easy, has it not been done, if indeed, it has not?

The largest users of dry yeast are bakeries and home bakers who apparently
get by with the product that is available.

The largest users of brewers yeast are of course, commercial brewers.
Because of the vast quantities they use, they typically produce their own
yeast for production purposes. Because of the continuity of their process,
there is nothing to be gained by drying the yeast. It is simpler and cheaper
to use it in the liquid form.

The homebrew market simply has not motivated the companies currently in the
dried yeast business (so we are told by the promoters of liquid yeast) to
produce the equivalent of a pure liquid culture.

>From: smithey@rmtc.Central.Sun.COM (Brian Smithey)
>Subject: Yet another Wyeast problem

This is a familiar enough subject line that if it was MY company, I would do
something about it FAST!

If they are too small to deal with a sophisticated package, they ought to
simplify it.

If it were MY company, I would ship it in two packages. The culture in one
and the nutrient in another.

It may feel good to contemplate that nice sterile environment for mixing but
if it doesn't work reliably, it's worse than not working at all.

They could sell the nutrient by the gallon and the user would simply
sterilize a quantity when ready to use. They could also just tell the user
how to make an appropriate medium and eliminate the problem entirely.

That's my advice Jeff. No charge this time.


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