From the HBD Archive
From: Paul Perlmutter <paul@hppaul>
Subject: Re: Homebrew Digest #115 (March 31, 1989)
Date: 1989-03-31 18:32:20 GMT

> The cost is also intolerable. When I make a batch of beer with
> $5 of grain and $1.50 of hops, why should I spend $4.25 for
> yeast? For the past few months I've split Wyeast packets
> between a starter and 2-3 sterilized culture tubes and then used
> the tubes with starters for later batches. I've had no problems
> with culturing yeast from tubes that have been in my fridge for
> up to 8 weeks.

I agree. Yeast should cost pennies - not dollars! Moreover,
there are many good brews that still have active cultures, such
as Sierra Nevada - which can view as "free". But liquid yeast
pouches will always provide a greater variety.

You have to start freezing the cultures. Letting it sit around
in the refrigerator is inviting trouble, whereas freezing it
is becoming the absolutely safest way to go.

> Then I hit a (minor) snag: the directions on the (Emde Ale) yeast
> package said to sprinkle the little pellets on the top of the
> (cooled) wort, but the kit directions said to mix with a couple
> tablespoons of tepid water. I tried the latter, which instantly
> produced a glob of incredibly sticky beige goop! Adding slightly
> more water didn't seem to help, so I just scraped it into the wort
> as best I could, and stirred, which didn't break it up at all. I
> checked it 90 minutes later before going to bed, and to my
> astonishment, the glob had spread over several inches of the
> surface, and a bubble appeared in my blowoff pail! When I left for
> work this morning it was bubbling merrily away.

Dried Yeast is funny product. It can glob badly. Just ask any
cook who regularly bakes bread. But since it is an active culture,
the globbing goes away by sitting in tepid water. Relax, and be
patient with yeast. If you are going to pitch it without using
a starter, just pitch it into the fermenter.

I have recently become convinced that the best way to go is to
always put yeast in a small starter bottle, before pitching it
into a large fermenter of wort. You are guaranteed the yeast
is alive, it has started, and it is very active. It is convenient
also if you want to freeze a small portion of the starter for
another time.

It would be interesting to know people's experience using yeasts
cultured directly from commercial brews that are not pastuerized,
such as Sierra Nevada (and Samuel Adams?).

Paul Perlmutter

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