I have often heard people talking about the viability of pitchable liquid yeast either in a vial or smack pack dropping over time. This effect is greatly accelerated with increased temperature, so storing the yeast cold without freezing will slow down the drop in viability.

Does the effect of dropping viability mean that if the liquid yeast has to travel a long distance to reach me it would be better using a dried yeast? How is the liquid yeast generally transported overseas? Is it refridgerated?

To make the example a bit more specific White labs produces yeast in California and I buy it online from a homebrew shop in the UK. Would dried yeast perhaps be a better option?

1 Answer 1


It depends on what you want from the yeast. There are by far more choices in the liquid yeast realm. Only a handful in the dry yeast realm. For instance I don't see too many Saison strains in dry form.

That said, it will depend on the travel conditions of the yeast as to how viable they are. I always make a starter. You should too, for liquid yeast. Older the yeast is the more this will matter. Also you may look into yeast ranching. That way you only have to buy a vial once, depending on how sterile and thorough you are.

I'm in Germany right now and have had no problem with yeast being shipped to me from the States. Your homebrew shop would be the likeliest break in the chain. How often do the turnover the product and restock? A one year old vial or smack pack still has viable yeast in it. But I would pass.

  • +1 same here. I'm in norway, my "LHBS" (about 100 miles away) provides production dates on all yeast orders on the webiste. They keep the vials/packs stored cool - I've not asked, but pretty sure they are shipped to them in cold packs.
    – mdma
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:36

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