Benefits of Liquid Yeast?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by 51brew, Aug 27, 2020.

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  1. 51brew

    51brew New Member

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    Home brewing for nearly 1 year ~ 1 a month, so still consider myself a newbie

    From what I understand, dry yeast is easier to use (just pitch) vs. liquid (needing a starter - though even that looks debated)

    So silly question - What are the benefits of using a liquid yeast. Throwing some guesses out there... more variety? better variety (though personal taste really dictates what better is)? Must use if looking to clone a commercial beer? ....but leaning on the experts to really opine here.

    Thanks!

    (Apologies if this has been posted already - did try to search for an answer first)
     
  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    There's some amount of elitism about liquid over dry yeast, with many folks insisting that only liquid yeast will give you the best results. Plenty of brewers get totally professional results with dry yeast but there can be real advantages to liquid.
    As you mentioned, variety is better and that's a big one. There are a lot of subtly different strains of liquid yeasts within certain styles. Lagers are a good example...maybe 3 or 4 distinct dry yeast strains to choose from but probably a dozen or more liquid strains available. English beers. same. Belgian beers, definitely true.
    In terms of quality of fermentation, if you use the proper cell count with dry yeast and rehydrate before pitching, it can work just as well and ferment as "cleanly" as any liquid. The advantage of using a starter for liquid yeast is not just that there's a proper cell count (if it's done correctly) but that the yeast is active and ready to go to work as soon as it's pitched. Dry yeast can take a little while to "wake up".
     
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  3. Frankenbrewer

    Frankenbrewer Well-Known Member

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    I have been making starters with dry yeast with good success. I have also harvested those dry yeasts and used them a couple times with good results. I have been brewing primarily IPAs, Brown and Blonde Ales. I did a Belgian Tripel with dry yeast and it came out great. I haven't used a liquid yeast in over a year.
     
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  4. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    As to variety, the gap between dry and liquid yeast has been decreasing in recent years. Also, I believe that the quality of dry yeast has been getting better as well, but I don't think that was ever a big gap to begin with. I think the biggest difference between the two is where you get it from. If you order your yeast online and have it shipped to you then dry yeast is preferred because it is much more tolerant of temperature swings during shipping. If you get your yeast from your LHBS then it's mainly personal preference.
     
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  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I am fortunate to be located a stones throw from Escarpment Labs.
    Their liquid yeasts contain enough billions to direct pitch in any beer that is not too "big".
    From what I understand the dry yeast has available has never been better than it is these days.

    Dry Yeast
    Pro's
    great quality, convenient to purchase store and pitch, stores well for long periods,
    you can pitch dry packs without re-hydrating
    In particular with Fermentis you can pitch without aerating wort on OG's of 1060 or less
    Conn's
    limited strains available (but improving)

    Liquid Yeast
    Pro's
    Large variety available
    Conn's
    need to pitch fresh (will lose viability over relatively short period of time), you most likely will need to do a starter, you pretty much need to aerate your wort.

    Feel free to add or subtract from these pro's and conn's this is just what comes to mind.

    Some may jump on the "not needing to aerate" bit above, and cast a stink eye at this notion, but I got this directly from the North American rep for Fermentis. I have had great fermentations with US-05 for instance with OG's as high as 1063 without aerating. There is always some aeration when transferring to the fermenter, but I have left the wort sitting over night in the fermenter and pitched the next morning with no more aeration than that, and have never noticed a difference in fermentation, or noticed any off flavors.
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've been involved in a conversation elsewhere with some of the masters. They finally talked me into pitching dried yeast without oxygenation or rehydration. The results were fantastic. So much so that I will stop rehydrating my yeast - no need in taking the risk for minimal return. I'll likely keep oxygenating -- the test batch was 4 gallons of 1.049 wort.

    So advantages dried:
    - No advance processing (rehydration) needed
    - No oxygenation/aeration needed for moderately sized batches of reasonable OG
    - Low cost - can pitch multiple packets cheaper than buying liquid and making a starter
    - Long shelf life
    Disadvantages dried:
    - Limited selection

    Advantages liquid:
    - Wide selection of specialty yeasts
    Disadvantages liquid:
    - Temperature control essential to viability
    - Starter generally needed
    - Requires oxygen
    - Limited shelf life

    Looks like, where it fits the bill, dried is actually the winner.
     
  7. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much - I agree with everyone here. The only advantage that seems to get listed again and again is the one you first mentioned - variety. - On that note I will say this:
    My beer has improved greatly over the last couple years and while there have been several things I have done to achieve this, one of them has been to keep the variety in my grain and hop selection and NOT in my yeast. I brew plenty of different tasting beers with 1 of 2 strains of yeast (both dry - you've read all the positives as to why I, too, use dry) . Because of this, I know how these two types of yeast work and because they both are "clean" fermenters, I know where my flavors are coming from.

    Now, when I want a Belgian or some other YEAST driven beer, I do change my yeast to one that fits the style (I still look for dry) but I have actually come to find I PREFER the two yeasts I've come to know so well... When I first started brewing I loved fruity esters - that is changing.

    Recently, I have started to try a few other dry strains in order to "branch out" and it has been fun BUT I really do feel that I can use other ingredients and my process to make a majority of beers with just those two yeast strains. In the end - I think I'd like to have 4-5 dry yeasts in my well-versed wheelhouse but that will certainly take a couple more years of brewing to achieve. :)

    So, keep reaching for those dry strains and brew on! :)
     
  8. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    I used liquid yeast for about 20 years. A few years ago, I saw that there was a much wider selection of dry yeasts and I tried them. Since then, I have used dry exclusively.

    One issue is that I live remote from any brew shops and have to purchase online. In the summer here in Louisiana, I don't worry about dry yeast in shipment. Liquid yeast doesn't always survive.
     
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  9. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Dry yeast quality from major manufacturers is very good, but many strains that are out there don't do well or survive the dehydrating process, so there is a much wider variety of liquid yeast.
    I usually use liquid yeast, because I have several strains I love. for example, I've never found a dry Kolsch strain like Imperial's Deiter strain.
     
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  10. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    Not much experience and none with liquid yeasts, but because of availability, climate etc I will be solely working with dry yeast (unless maybe building a starter from a bottle of beer)
     
  11. CausticWolf

    CausticWolf Member

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    So what are the 2 yeasts you always use? 05 and 04?

    Glad I read this, I've been thinking of changing the yeast, but I'll just stick with Safale-US05!
     
  12. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    I use Nottingham and SafLager 34/70. They both have pretty wide temp ranges.
    Lots of folks here use US05 and love it! It is a great strain that I just haven't really ever used for one reason or another. US-04 is a yeast I'd like to try out soon too.
     
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  13. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    +1 to dry yeast starters and harvesting for reuse. I've been doing both for several years after some bad experiences with liquid yeasts. The bad experiences were due to supply chain and not the producers/product. While we're on the subject, let's not forget the benefits of using dry yeasts. The average packet contains twice the cell count of the most popular liquid yeast brands. It holds up to aging, poor handling and storage much better than liquid yeasts. If you're pressed for time, you can usually just pitch 2 packets instead of making a starter, for about the same cost as a single package of liquid yeast.
    Once you look at the plusses of both types, it's pretty clear that the only real advantage to using liquid yeasts is variety. The selection of dry products is growing as we type. The advantage of liquid strains is shrinking at the same time.
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention.... Forever I've been an advocate of rehydrating dried yeast and oxygenating the wort. In a recent discussion with some Gurus Who Shall Remain Unnamed, I was convinced to try direct pitch of dried yeast without oxygenation. I was surprised that it worked like a champ. Bearing in mind that the beer was a 3-gallon batch of 1.049 wort, even if highly acidic, the yeast, K-97 German Ale Yeast, performed as well as any of the liquid yeasts I've tried. My next step will be to try it on a 5-gallon batch of 1.050 - 1.055 yeast and see how it performs but for now, add ease of use and elimination of at least two process steps to the advantages of dried yeast.

    An aside, in my real profession, we know that elimination of a process step is always superior to improving the process step when attempting to increase overall quality because any action has some opportunity for error.
     
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  15. Frankenbrewer

    Frankenbrewer Well-Known Member

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    I've pitched Lalbrew New England Dry yeast (1.063 batch) without oxygenating because I had to move on to something else and it worked fine.
     
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  16. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    US-05 as high as 1063 no aeration and new rehydration, worked like a champ!
     
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  17. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Agreed with the others, the primary benefit is variety. I keep dried packs around for emergencies and then putter with liquid strains until I either forget to rebuild the starter or I pour the whole starter in by accident.
     

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