From the HBD Archive
From: gummitch@techbook.com (Jeff Frane)
Subject: Yeast, Truth and the American Way
Date: 1992-03-09 19:31:11 GMT

Several people have complained to me about the tone of my recent
comments to Jack Schmidling. I find it a wee bit ironic to be criticized
for flaming Arf, of all people, but I admit to losing my temper. Someone
commented that there was a person on the other end of that flame, a fact
of which I'm well aware. My disagreements with Mr Schmidling range far
and wide, and if one was to read my comments without being aware of
discussions in other newsgroups, I suppose they might seem pretty harsh.

So, I will endeavor to keep my temper under control.

Specifically, in the question of my credibility in re: WYeast and liquid
yeast in general. As Mr Schmidling should be completely aware, from my
earliest postings in HBD I've made no bones about my connection with
Dave Logsdon and his company. Other than my earliest posting (which was
in aid of Schmidling's "research" on nitrosamines), I started out by
asking for requests for inclusions in the WYeast Book of Yeast. I have
repeatedly forwarded questions to and answers from WYeast, and I have
endeavored to keep people on the Digest and in rcb up-to-date on
packaging problems, etc.

Mr Schmidling has previously made a similar accusation: that my boosting
of liquid yeasts was a product of this connection and that I had led
some sort of bandwagon against his stand on dry yeast. I would challenge
Mr. Schmidling to provide some evidence of this, as I have no memory of
ever having such a discussion with him, although I've disagreed with him
on a number of other topics. I was, in fact, only recently aware that
Arf was still using dry yeast.


As far as Mr Schmidling's opinions on the best way to package yeast, I
would suggest that having the yeast and nutrient in one package was the
whole point! and in fact largely responsible for the success of WYeast.
I am also very aware of the huge amount of effort that Dave is putting
into correcting the problem with his packaging, a problem that was
neither inherent in the design nor of his own doing. He is responding as
any good businessman should, repairing the damage as quickly and
thoroughly as possible.

Basically, the proof is in fact in the pudding. As someone else has
pointed out, virtually every winning beer at the AHA National
Competitions was brewed with a liquid yeast culture. This is partly due,
I think, to the fact that more experienced brewers are more likely to
use liquid cultures, but also to the self-evident fact that liquid
cultures are unlikely to be contaminated. It is entirely possible that
in a few cases, people's packages from WYeast have been contaminated
(although no one ever seems to be willing to concede that they have
problems with sanitation in their brewery). This small company ships
out thousands of packages a week, and if one or two people mention
contamination problems, I would think that was a pretty remarkable
record. People who have taken the time to plate out various dry brewing
yeasts have reported various, usually high levels of contamination by
wild yeasts and bacteria. Which is likely to be better in your beer?

On another, related note:

A number of brewers responded to my query about problems with slow
fermentation of WYeast 1056. I spoke with David about this, having had
the same problem myself, and he has done some research. Apparently, 1056
(and one other strain) have a propensity to mutation and some batches of
the yeast have gone out with about 20% mutated yeast cells, which has
weakened the strain. WYeast has added another level of testing to ensure
that such mutated cells don't get into the outgoing product again, and
they are attempting to determine the environmental causes of the
mutation.

On still another, also related note:

WYeast is considering adding some new strains of yeast to their existing
line. These would sell for less money than the current package, and
would NOT include a starter. I reiterate: these strains would be in
addition to the regular line. I told David I believe there was an
interest in such additions, but would like to hear from other brewers.
Are their particular types of yeast that would be of interest (I think
it's safe to say that lambic mixtures would probably not be on the
list)?

- --Jeff Frane (hopefully flameless this time)




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