Dry yeast manufacturers… could you please up the 11g packet size?

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CascadesBrewer

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I feel like people who frequently make starters, are by and large just busybodies who really enjoy the science behind brewing, and just always have to have something going on in their little laboratories. From my experience, there is virtually no reason to make a starter for 95%of the beers most are brewing, and the money saved is minimal in the grand scheme of things. If you enjoy doing it, knock yourself out, but it’s usually overkill IMO.

I am sure people say the same thing about people that use fermentation temperature control, or adjust their water chemistry/pH, or do closed keg transfers, etc. I am not sure if you are talking about dry yeast or liquid yeast or 100B cell liquid yeast vs 200B cell liquid yeast. In my mind, fermentation is the most critical stage to making good beer. There are a number of factors in play, but pitching an adequate amount of healthy yeast is one of them. A 3 month old pack of White Labs or Wyeast will often ferment out fine (often after a long lag) and this is especially true if the wort is well oxygenated and using temperature control. There is often a good chance that fermentation will take an extra week, or you won't hit the attenuation target, or you won't have enough healthy yeast to clean up off flavors.

I don't make a lot of starters myself. I get around this by making 2.5 gallon batches, or using dry yeast, or harvesting and repitching yeast. Making a starter with a pack of Wyeast or White Labs is a very simple step towards consistently making better beer.
 

hotbeer

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I guess one can imagine all sorts of terrible things happening when that tiny 11 gram pack of dry yeast is opened and not used immediately. I doubt it's anywhere near what imaginations allowed to run rampant have one believe.

I just cut the top off, measure out what I need and then push the air out of the packet and fold some shipping tape over the top to seal it. Then back in the fridge it goes.

Since I only brew less than a 5 quarts at a time, a packet last me several batches and the last batch it is used in ferments just as quick as the first batch did. Though with smaller batches I'm brewing more often so that pack doesn't last for longer than 2 months.
 

McMullan

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How do you know this is true?
- Is the process for manufacturing dry brewers yeast exactly the same as for bread yeast? Identical ingredients, manufacturing scale and quality control?
- Is the cost of marketing a unit of baker's yeast the same as for brewers yeast? Seem to me brewers are pretty demanding customers.
- How many different strains of baker's yeast does a yeast manufacturer need to maintain? How much investment into development of new strains?

And if we are going to compare yeast prices between brewers and bread why not ask why liquid brewers yeast is so dang expensive? Liquid bread yeast used to be a thing in the 19th century but was replaced by fresh cake yeast. Fresh cake yeast for home market appears to be about 2x the price of active dry yeast from same manufacturer, likely due to packaging and shipping (cold chain rapidly perishable product). Still a 2oz block (600 billion cells!) of fresh compressed bread yeast is just $4.50 at Whole Paycheck...
Yes, practically the same thing. In the 19th century, brewer's yeast (from breweries) was used by bakers generally. It wasn't until the early 20th century that specified baker's yeast became commercially available. Even today many bakers prefer fresh yeast, which costs a bit more and has a much shorter shelf life.
 

dmtaylor

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Did you ever play around with under pitching Belle Saison as mentioned in that thread?

I have only used Belle Saison one time, and it was years ago so I don't recall the pitch rate. What I can tell you is that it won a gold or silver in competition (I don't remember which, I want to say silver?).
 

MaxStout

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My brew club buddy buys the 500g bricks, stores in a sealed Quart canning jar, and dips out what he wants for each batch

I'm half tempted to do that, though 500g is probably more than I'd use by its use-by date. I brew a lot of British styles, so S-04 could be my mainstay for many of those. I use that yeast the most often, with US-05 in 2nd place. I could easily go through a chunk of a brick in the 2-3 years I'd have. Maybe find another brewer nearby to split a brick.

I see it on Amazon for $77 a brick, which works out to about 15 cents a gram or $1.77 for the equivalent to a 11.5g packet. At that rate I could pitch 2.5 times that for the cost of a single packet.

Keeping it sterile all that time with repeated opening of the jar and scooping would be my concern.
 
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I'm half tempted to do that, though 500g is probably more than I'd use by its use-by date. I brew a lot of British styles, so S-04 could be my mainstay for many of those. I use that yeast the most often, with US-05 in 2nd place. I could easily go through a chunk of a brick in the 2-3 years I'd have. Maybe find another brewer nearby to split a brick.

I see it on Amazon for $77 a brick, which works out to about 15 cents a gram or $1.77 for the equivalent to a 11.5g packet. At that rate I could pitch 2.5 times that for the cost of a single packet.

Keeping it sterile all that time with repeated opening of the jar and scooping would be my concern.
Gary has one of those sealers (seal a meal?) that pulls a seal on a mason jar. He keeps it in the freezer, dips with a sanitized teaspoon, and seals it back up. He is gentle with the lid and re-uses it. He might keep the yeast in the fridge. He does hops that way too, and keeps those in the freezer.
 

McMullan

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FTR, I believe Omega upped the amount of yeast in their standard home brew packs by 50%. Of course the price went up commensurately.
Unless you can get the packs at their freshest I don’t think this model works for wet yeast, due to the high cell death rate. A starter remains necessary. I’m not paying extra for that, which is one of the reasons I don’t use Omega Yeast. If anything I’d like to see much smaller (and cheaper) wet yeast packs, because we need to culture them up at home anyway. So my preferred model for wet yeast suppliers is very different. I’d be happy with less than 11g for a tenth of the price. So it looks like both dry and wet manufacturers need to reevaluate their model for home brewers.
 

bwible

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I mean, I'd like more yeast too if the cost is the same, but liquid or dry, if you're brewing a higher OG beer you're gonna need more packets or a starter
But who gives you more of anything for the same price? Manufacturers have 2 ways to cut costs and increase profits - raise the price or give you less for the same price
 

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This is my way of dealing with the pitch rate.

I have 2L flask and 6 x 1qt Bell's jars. I add 105g of DME to each jar and fill up with water. Then I water can those jars for 10 minutes when it starts to boil. The same way of water canning as when making fruit jams. I have now solution for 6 starters. For me it is 4 months of making beers.

To make the starter I get one cold jar content to the flask, shake it until it is full of foam and empty one yeast packet into it. Then I close it with an airlock. I stir the flask couple times during next 24 hours. I brew on the next day. My fermentation starts in ~6 hours.
 

McMullan

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Another way of looking at it, as the customer, is who wants to sell me something for a fair price? Again, I can get high quality dry baker's yeast for a fraction of a dry brewer's yeast, even though thery're essentially the same thing, biologically and practically.

Edit: I bake bread with the baker's yeast, in case anyone wondered.
 
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bwible

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I don’t know why people insist they have to make a starter with liquid yeast. All the companies advertise pitchabe yeast. I always try to get several uses out of one pack. I brew light to dark, weak to strong - same way beer judges judge beer. If my first beer is in the 1.040 range I’m good. Then I pitch subsequent beers onto the built up yeast cake from the previous beer.
 
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Both Mauribrew (Australia) and Apex Cultures (Sweden) are selling 500g bricks in the US for around $66.00. So if you have a way to safely store and dole out on a per brew basis, you could be using dry yeast for between $1.50 and $3.00 per 5 gallon batch.
Maybe not a great situation for individual brewers, but I could see brew clubs benefiting from it.

Edit - My guess is that both mentioned above are a repackage of someone else's yeast. Cellar Science too. But I have nothing to back that up. Just a bunch of hunch.
 

TestTickle

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I don’t know why people insist they have to make a starter with liquid yeast. All the companies advertise pitchabe yeast. I always try to get several uses out of one pack. I brew light to dark, weak to strong - same way beer judges judge beer. If my first beer is in the 1.040 range I’m good. Then I pitch subsequent beers onto the built up yeast cake from the previous beer.
Well call me crazy, but I'm not going to rack an IPA onto a Hefeweizen yeast cake or a porter onto Saison yeast.
 

McMullan

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Apex Cultures culture and package their own yeasts. Probably similar strains as other manufacturers. I think they were supposed to culture and package kveiks a few years back, but the contract talks failed. Wannabe kveik barons had expectations of becoming billionaires flogging peasant cultures. Repackagers are small time and best avoided - could be as bad as a numpty with a teaspoon, a box of sealable packets and an eBay account. Reputable suppliers without production facilities, e.g., branded homebrew kit suppliers, are going to contract out production to one or two of many production plants around the world. It doesn't matter whether it's brewer's yeast, baker's yeast or a yeast specified as a nutrient supplement for pig feed, etc. You'll find some pretty slick marketing spiel with some of the big firms. They'll present a dozen good reasons why you should buy from them. A dozen benefits associated with active dry yeast generally, not really anything special they claim to do. It's all marketing.
 

TestTickle

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Keeping it sterile all that time with repeated opening of the jar and scooping would be my concern.
That was my concern as well, but I have found dry yeast to be so robust that with a reasonable cleanliness, sanitation and storage routine, it's a lot harder to screw it up than we think.
 

McMullan

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Well call me crazy, but I'm not going to rack an IPA onto a Hefeweizen yeast cake or a porter onto Saison yeast.
I don't think anyone expects you to either. To get the most (the best) out of any yeast it pays to repitch at last a few times. There's no substitute for repitching the best yeast possible at no cost.
 

TestTickle

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I don't think anyone expects you to either. To get the most (the best) out of any yeast it pays to repitch at last a few times. There's no substitute for repitching the best yeast possible at no cost.
Oh I know and understand that. The comment was directed at those who question why anyone wastes time making starters. What may be ideal for some brewers is not ideal for others.
 

VikeMan

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Regarding repitching... The price can't be beat. And very often, it's convenient. But viability and vitality isn't as good as a fresh pitch of commercially produced yeast. Breweries who repitch are compensating for that with the sheer volume of yeast repitched (i.e. very high pitch rates). White Labs and Wyeast can make a healthier pitch than our fermenters can, because they are purposefully culturing yeast rather than making beer.
 
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bwible

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Well call me crazy, but I'm not going to rack an IPA onto a Hefeweizen yeast cake or a porter onto Saison yeast.
Oh absolutely. Hefeweizen is the one strain I can’t really find a second style to use it for. Its really a one trick pony. I don’t do Saison or anything Belgian.

But yeah, I did just split a 1056 into 2 starters. Well first, I had to do a starter because the pack was out of date. Second I plan to make 6 beers out of it. All 3 gallon batches. So far I’ve made an Irish Red followed by 2 stouts. The other starter I split off is going into a Centennial Blonde followed by a pale ale then an IPA. So yeah, I didn’t want the dark grains from the stout in the American beers and I didn’t want the hops from the American beers in the Irish Red or the stouts. Stuff like this is understandable. But I don’t usually make 6 beers out of 1 yeast.

Since I’m also doing 3 gallon batches, I rarely do a starter unless the pack is out of date or something.
 

bwible

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Regarding repitching... The price can't be beat. And very often, it's convenient. But viability and vitality isn't as good as a fresh pitch of commercially produced yeast. Commercial breweries who repitch are compensating for that with the sheer volume of yeast repitched (i.e. very high pitch rates). White Labs and Wyeast can make a healthier pitch than our fermenters can, because they are purposefully culturing yeast rather than making beer.
I wonder what they do different to culture yeast as opposed to making beer? Do they not use hops or something? I know when I do make starters I usually don’t add hops to the starter. Though I know some people do. But I’d think if the intent is to grow yeast in a beer medium (which seems to be how they are all packaged) wouldn’t they end up with some kind of drinkable product at the end? Unless they just throw it away.
 

VikeMan

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I wonder what they do different to culture yeast as opposed to making beer?

No hops. Low-ish gravity "wort." Added Nutrients. Strict Oxygen control.

But I’d think if the intent is to grow yeast in a beer medium (which seems to be how they are all packaged) wouldn’t they end up with some kind of drinkable product at the end? Unless they just throw it away.

Alcohol is produced. "Drinkable" is subjective. I don't know what any of the yeast manufacturers do with the alcohol produced, but I'd bet a paycheck nobody is drinking it.
 

MaxStout

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Alcohol is produced. "Drinkable" is subjective. I don't know what any of the yeast manufacturers do with the alcohol produced, but I'd bet a paycheck nobody is drinking it.

When I visited White Labs' tasting room a few years ago, I saw lots of test batches on tap, but nothing called "yeast production dregs." ;)
 

odie

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I'll just "pitch" this out here...

I've never pitched more than a single 11g packet. I do an RIS that starts WELL over 1.100 and finishes north of 13% ABV on a single US-05 packet.

I now buy the 500g bricks but measure out no more than a single packet amount per batch.
 

Bassman2003

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I don’t know why people insist they have to make a starter with liquid yeast. All the companies advertise pitchabe yeast. I always try to get several uses out of one pack. I brew light to dark, weak to strong - same way beer judges judge beer. If my first beer is in the 1.040 range I’m good. Then I pitch subsequent beers onto the built up yeast cake from the previous beer.
I will only speak for myself, but from experience, the lag times from direct pitching WL vials have often been 30 hours+ Also getting fresh yeast is often difficult. If you want convenience, do things the easier way. Just know others do more for real reasons as that has been proven to be the best way for performance etc... Read up on yeast and the main theme is pitch a lot of healthy active cells. The best way to achieve this is to make a starter or pitch multiple packs.

As CascadeBrewer already stated, fermentation and yeast management is where it all happens. Not the place to skimp imho. But that is just for my brewing and no worries for others' to go a different path. :)
 

VikeMan

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A few people have mentioned pitching at relatively low rates, but always getting full attenuation anyway. In my experience, you have to underpitch pretty severely to noticeably impact attenuation. IMO, flavor is the reason to pay attention to pitch rates, and pitch accordingly, to style and personal preference.
 

MaxStout

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in the words of vanilla ice, "if yeast was beer yeast, i'd sell it by the gram" i can buy a 2lb brick of active dry for $15? explain?

Yeast mfrs know they can charge much more for brewer's yeast. It's what the market can bear. Bread yeast, OTOH, would never fetch $4/packet in the grocery stores.
 

bwible

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I'll just "pitch" this out here...

I've never pitched more than a single 11g packet. I do an RIS that starts WELL over 1.100 and finishes north of 13% ABV on a single US-05 packet.

I now buy the 500g bricks but measure out no more than a single packet amount per batch.
I just did a RIS yesterday that’s fermenting away. Before that I did an Irish Red then a Dry Stout (planning ahead for St. Patty’s Day) and the RIS was the 3rd use of that yeast cake which was pretty well built up by then. Thats how I approach the big beers. When I do a barleywine I will do at least a pale ale first, maybe a pale ale then an IPA. With a barleywine I’m not worried about carrying over any hops.

For English beers I’ll do a Bitter or Best Bitter into an English Pale Ale. Mild seems to be the rub because its weaker but also darker. And I haven’t made one for awhile. But if I was going to do those 3, I would probably go Bitter then Mild then English Pale Ale. Or Mild into a Porter works. Re-using yeast is all about planning the beers the yeast can make and making them in a good order that makes sense.
 

dmtaylor

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A few people have mentioned pitching at relatively low rates, but always getting full attenuation anyway. In my experience, you have to underpitch pretty severely to noticeably impact attenuation. IMO, flavor is the reason to pay attention to pitch rates, and pitch accordingly, to style and personal preference.

I hypothesize that the only reason attenuation could be impacted by an underpitch is... that the pitch never really took off, and instead you've had some other unintended contaminant perform the fermentation for you. But if pitching healthy yeast, even if it's an underpitch, all other variables being the same, you should get the same attenuation no matter what.
 

odie

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A few people have mentioned pitching at relatively low rates, but always getting full attenuation anyway.
that's cause yeast does what yeast does...eats sugar and multiplies...oh, and leaves us with this lovely thing called alcohol...

the smallest pitch is gonna do it's thing...eat and reproduce...
 

odie

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I hypothesize that the only reason attenuation could be impacted by an underpitch is... that the pitch never really took off, and instead you've had some other unintended contaminant perform the fermentation for you. But if pitching healthy yeast, even if it's an underpitch, all other variables being the same, you should get the same attenuation no matter what.
bingo...I believe this is the only thing that matters with pitch rate...you want the desirable yeast to dominate...dominate early...

so, the better your cleanliness, sanitation, fermenter sealing, etc...the smaller pitch you can safely do...

If your methods are sloppy...then pitch large to have any chance at a decent beer.
 

CascadesBrewer

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When I visited White Labs' tasting room a few years ago, I saw lots of test batches on tap, but nothing called "yeast production dregs." ;)

I have to believe that the test batches they put on tap are completely separate from how they propagate yeast. A while back I read through the patent regarding White Labs "Pure Pitch" packaging (I don't have a link to it now). They have an interesting system where they ferment in a large "plastic" bladder and then seal up individual compartments of different sizes for different pitches. I also suspect during fermentation there is a lot of oxygen introduced to keep the yeast healthy and reproducing, likely without any hops.

Regarding repitching... The price can't be beat. And very often, it's convenient.

This was my strategy for a few years. It works really well if you are using 2-3 core strains and brewing often. It also helps if you mix in some lower gravity and non-dry hopped batched in the mix. I am pretty sure I got 12 or more batches out of a $8 pack of WLP001. In 2021 my focus was on using dry yeast. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages for me. Also, while dry yeast is "cheap", a dozen packs of US-05 adds up in cost, and some of the Lallemand yeasts sell locally for $7 per pack.

Yeast mfrs know they can charge much more for brewer's yeast. It's what the market can bear. Bread yeast, OTOH, would never fetch $4/packet in the grocery stores.

I am curious about the production cost differences between beer yeast and bread yeast. For the most part, bread yeast just needs to produce CO2, then any contamination is kill off during the baking process. I am not sure if maintaining pure single strain cultures matter much either. Where beer yeast has much higher standards.
 

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[SQUEAKY VOICE ON]Oh no please! Don't do shifting to 20 g packets!.. We Little-Guys-Brewing-Little-5L/1.5G-Batches are very against that... We divide our 10g sachets up for 4 brews and every time we reseal the sachet we are nervous about it getting contaminated. If the sachets are 20 g, we'll need to reseal them 7 times which will make us even more nervous![SQUEAKY VOICE OFF]
 

McMullan

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So have we made any progress arriving at some kind of consensus re the OP's valid, in my view, point about bigger standard homebrew packs of dry yeast, for a standard 5 gallon batch? I like to pitch at a high rate to control the yeast profile, which, for me, produces a better balanced beer. And if I'm using dry yeast these days it's because I'm brewing a lager, which requires at least two packs. A pack for half a standard batch seems to be a bit of a con.
 

McMullan

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[SQUEAKY VOICE ON]Oh no please! Don't do shifting to 20 g packets!.. We Little-Guys-Brewing-Little-5L/1.5G-Batches are very against that... We divide our 10g sachets up for 4 brews and every time we reseal the sachet we are nervous about it getting contaminated. If the sachets are 20 g, we'll need to reseal them 7 times which will make us even more nervous![SQUEAKY VOICE OFF]
You can group buy a 20g pack.
 
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