Take the 2-minute tour ×
Homebrewing Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for dedicated home brewers and serious enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've always thought it to be common knowledge that wet yeast is better than dry yeast for home-brewing. This was confirmed by Sam Calagione at his Authors at Google talk where he suggested that using wet yeast is the single best way for the beginning home-brewer to improve their beer.

Recently a retail home-brew store employee told me that this "myth" has been debunked and that dry yeast is better because it doesn't require a starter for high gravity beers. Is there any truth to this? Do any serious home-brewers out there prefer dry yeast?

share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers 6

Dry yeast is be far easier for the newer brewer to USE, which to a shop owner would make it better. Mainly because for shop owners the easier it is for someone to make decent beer, the more likely that customer is to return to the shop. But once you get some experience the switch to liquid yeast is the way to go for healthy yeast and variety.

In regards to Sam's comment, I think he is incorrect. You can indeed make great great beer with dry yeast, you can improve your beer beyond that with liquid yeast. But the single greatest place to invest yourself for better beer is in temperature control of the ferment.

Beer fermented at 68F-70F with dry yeast will always be better than the same style and strain of liquid yeast fermented at 80F. Or even a ferment that starts at 68F creeps up to 75F then falls again. Temp control and stabilty has big effects on yeast performance. Fermentation management is the single biggest key to making great beer, IMO.

share|improve this answer
    
Would you like to start a community wiki on different methods of fermentation management? –  hookedonwinter Jan 6 '10 at 14:53
    
Sure but what exactly is a community wiki? I can't find info on it on the site. (Maybe I should ask that as a question) –  brewchez Jan 6 '10 at 16:52
add comment

Its best not to think of this as "dry yeast versus liquid".

Dry yeasts are actually each the same yeast strain as a particular liquid strain, simply dehydrated and preserved in a safe manner. For example, the famous "Chico" yeast strain (WLP 001 for White Labs, 1056 for Wyeast) is exactly the same yeast as the dry Safale US-05. So if your recipe calls for WLP001 or 1056, you can use US-05 dry without any difference at all.

(The only caveat is that over or under pitching can affect flavor)

The main reason you should use liquid strains is if you are wanting a particular strain of yeast that has not been converted to a dry variety yet.

I won't list all the dry equivalent yeasts here, but here's a page with some info: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Dry_yeast

("Chico" strain is US-05, "Whitebread" strain is S-04, etc)

For me, if I want a neutral yeast that ferments clean and well, then I use US-05 and I know that there are a lot of commercial operations that use it too. Any ale thats "American" in flavor (big IPA's, etc) can use US-05. I also use S-04 for my "English" style beers. S-04 leaves the beer a lad estery, which is good for a lot of English styles. So I'd use dry yeast for IPAs, stouts, porters, browns, pale ales, ESBs, bitters, milds, etc. Basically any beer where the yeast flavor is not noticeable, or has just a slight English twang.

I would NOT use dry yeast for any beer where the yeast is the primary flavor. This includes hefeweizens, Belgians, sour beers, or German ales in general. There are some specialty dry strains that some have used to make German wheat beers and Belgians, but I personally have had poor luck with them.

So look at dry yeast simply as a collection of a few good yeast strains and use them if the beer you are making fits one of those clean strains.

UPDATE: The dry German lager yeast, Saflager W-34/70, has become a new favorite of mine. I've also used the less available S-189 dry lager yeast as well. So you CAN do lagers with dry yeast now! And it performs very, very well. Just use 2 packets to get the proper pitching rate for a lager.

share|improve this answer
    
I have used US05 and S04 a lot too, with great results and properties similar to what you describe. However, when compared side by side with their liquid counterparts, the liquid versions taste more to "style" than the dry does. This difference definately goes away when you repitch from slurry some of the yeast that was originally dry. To that end I'd argue that you do get great results with dry, but you do in fact get better results with the liquid forms of the same strain. –  brewchez Jan 8 '10 at 18:27
    
Looking back over a year of brewing 100 gallons or so of beer, the ones pitched with dry yeast were among my favorites, and there were plenty of ho-hum efforts made with liquid. Honestly, I'm not going to bother with the added cost of liquid yeast or the added work/risk of a starter when dry yeast gets me the same or better results with less effort and cost. Even if there were conclusive, non-anecdotal proof that liquid made better beer, I'm not sure I'd switch back. For those few styles where there's not a dry equivalent, though, I'll stick with liquid. –  Rich Armstrong Nov 29 '10 at 20:12
add comment

The Dry yeast, wet yeast thing has been debated forever. The fact of the matter is this, - once you have re hydrate your dormant yeast, it's wet. So, all yeast is wet. All fungi need water to reproduce, as a matter of a fact, everything needs water to reproduce.

Unless the dormant yeast has some sort of additive that might taint the taste of the beer, there is no difference. I always re hydrate my dry yeast with pure water and some corn sugar...I'll have a bubbling air lock in just a few hours.

I think the argument stems from the fact that many home brewers see faster yeast action with wet yeasts and therefor think it's better.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think it's fairly obvious that if you want control and more defining characteristics in your beer, you're going to need to use attributes of the yeast profiles that the various liquid yeasts provide. I do always keep dry yeast around just in case something goes wrong on brew day, but I try not to use it otherwise. As for starters, the smack pack Wyeast packs seem to do okay without additional starters so I tend to use those. Is a starter for a huge beer that big a deal to make sure everything goes right? I think cost is probably the single biggest argument against using liquid packs, and that means reusing yeast. There's a spot that's probably more time consuming and space hogging than just using starters for your big beers.

On another note, if you want a benefit from a specific dry yeast, Munton's makes a dry yeast that gels at the bottom of the fermenter. It's possibly the last dry yeast I've used and I was extremely impressed by it. $2.35 from Midwest Supplies (Of which I'm not affiliated. That's just where I purchased the stuff.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'm a serious home brewer and use dry yeasts all the time. IMO, any bias against them is based on superstition and nothing else. See my posting about it here: http://koehlerbeer.com/2008/05/23/dry-yeast-v-liquid-yeast

share|improve this answer
add comment

I haven't used dry yeast in a long time, except when a batch needed an extra boost mid-fermentation.

I also don't use a starter for my liquid yeast, even when I'm doing a high gravity brew. It generally seems to work out just fine.

share|improve this answer
    
Every beer where I've made a starter for liquid yeast has turned out better than beer I haven't made a starter for. My own personal experience has led me to always use a starter. –  Denny Conn Jan 17 '12 at 19:47
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.