I'm reading through and really enjoy the discussion. Some good points that I wasn't thinking about. I'm still not sure I get the move from WL here, though. What untapped piece of the yeast-buyer pie are they looking to pick up? I agree that I would pay the same price for a dry version of a yeast that performs equally to the liquid. I don't see the downside.
However, in that case...are they really targeting people that are already buying their liquid 001? If so then what happens to their liquid sales? I'm assuming that's not their plan unless liquid sales of 001 are so bad that they are giving up on the liquid and hanging their hopes on the dry version. If that's true it would be pretty interesting. Beyond that I see two other types of buyers they could target...
Buyer 1 - People that already use a dry yeast similar to 001 and are curious for an alternative. That would probably be the bucket where I fall. But I'm fine with my packs of BRY-97, or even US-05, for the occasional beer where I need it. I already have my yeast. I like it and I would hesitate to pay 3x more just for something different. Price isn't my main concern, but if I didn't pay attention at all I would be broke as a joke. So... is this piece of the pie that big?
Buyer 2 - People that would really like to use 001 but can't get their hands on the liquid version very easily. Maybe this is a slightly bigger piece of the pie but I would be willing to bet that most of these people have found alternatives. If they don't like dry then they have probably found their liquid alternative. One way or another they have a current favorite yeast that fits this niche. Couple that with the fact that brewers are humans and humans are largely creatures of habit. So what is going to push these people out of their current habits either try a dry yeast or trade up from their current dry yeast for a considerable markup?
I am really glad to see more dry yeast on the market, and I want to see it succeed, but I think they will have this same issue with other strains. If they can't get the price down then they would lose buyers 1 and 2 above and the only option left seems to be to predate their liquid sales.
My guess is that perhaps WL anticipate growing demand for dry yeast. They may be seeing breweries moving in that direction. The quality is improving. A lot of craft breweries use dry here in the UK and presumably in the US and other countries too. If Tree House uses dry, it must tempt a lot of people?
Lallemand has been investing in this future and maybe WL has decided to join them and see where it goes. Offer both alternatives. There are downsides to dry but there are also upsides. I use both myself because sometimes I want the advantage of liquid and sometimes I want the advantage of dry. I just split a beer 3 ways recently, one dry and two liquid, and my preference is for the dry yeast beer. On this occasion.
Not sure. I really don't know much about NEIPAs. I might be off base but attributed the performance to the yeast being dry rather than liquid. It seems most things that are easier or convenient come with consequences. Some bearable, some not. Unless WL can show me that the dry version of WLP001 used as directed equals the liquid, it is a tough sell for me. Granted I make starters and help the liquid yeast out where I would be just pitching the dry. So maybe unfair?
I think it's good practice to pitch freshly grown yeast from a starter. But a lot of home brewers and small breweries prefer the convenience of dry regardless, for various reasons. Dry is popular. Perhaps particularly in countries other than North America - where the liquid yeast is mostly produced. In the UK dry yeast is easily in the majority. Europe, Australia and NZ too I would imagine.
We pay £8-10 for Whitelabs and Wyeast, £15 for purepitch, in the UK. The other liquid suppliers are harder to source and more expensive. Dry yeasts range from around £2 to £4.50 ish, with lager strains at the high end. US05 and S04 are £2.50 - 3.00. Lallemand all £3.50 - 4.00.
There is a Scottish supplier doing non branded dry yeast packs which are all under £2 if you buy 3 packs or more and they seem popular. Price and convenience seem the key drivers for a lot of UK home brewers. Dry is seen as more reliable than liquid here. We don't really have a starter culture here, if you'll forgive the pun. A % of UK home brewers buys liquid, maybe 10 to 20%. A % of those makes starters. The vast majority buys dry I believe.
I've used Verdant several times and have always had apparent attenuation in the 74 - 78% range. The non maltotriose yeasts are lower than that. And they generally were isolated from multi strains and are probably being misused in single strain form. An advantage of dry yeast is I can afford to buy a variety of packs and pitch two or three strains together. And by repitching dry yeast into subsequent beers you can get into a more liquid position if you wish.