Pick the right homebrewing yeast

There are literally hundreds of options when choosing a brewing yeast. It’s such a critical part of homebrewing, but it’s also daunting.

Firstly, you have a choice between dry or liquid yeasts.

Then you have four or so major suppliers, each with dozens of strains to choose from.

Once you have your yeast, you then either rehydrate and pitch or make a starter.

Let’s unpack your options.

Dry or liquid brewing yeast

Whether to use dry or liquid yeast has previously divided the homebrewing community.

However, as the quality of dried yeast has improved, the movement has been towards dry.

My preference and advice to time-poor homebrewers is to use dried yeast. It is simpler to use, you get more cell count per packet and the quality is fantastic.

It’s also cheaper, which is a nice bonus.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each and where you would use liquid yeast.

Dry Yeast

Pros

  • Historically had lower quality, but is now excellent and wide range of styles.

  • Cheaper.

  • Higher cell count per pack, so can be pitched without a starter.

  • Longer shelf life.

  • Lower need for wort oxygenation – it’s made to work in a low oxygen environment and packed with nutrient reserves.

Cons

  • A smaller variety of yeast strains.

Liquid Yeast

Pros

  • Huge selection of yeast strains so you can make any style of beer.

  • Some beer styles can only be made with liquid yeasts.

Cons

  • A live culture, so more perishable and has a shorter shelf life.

  • Usually needs a starter (check with manufacturer).

  • Wort needs solid aeration.

  • Expensive.

The wrap

So it comes down to the style of beer you are trying to brew.

If it is something like an authentic Kolsch, weizen or Belgian abbey, you might want to use liquid yeast. Particularly if entering competitions.

In saying that there are some great dry alternatives for these styles of beer as well.

The major yeast manufacturers all have style-yeast matching tools freely available on their websites:

Which supplier?

The major yeast suppliers are all good and it’s a competitive market. This suits us homebrewers just fine.

They’re all good. Go with the one with your favorite logo.

Once you decide dry or liquid, pick a supplier and a premium yeast suited to the beer style you are making.

Keep the generic stuff that comes with your kit in your freezer as an emergency back up.


Want To Step Up Your Homebrewing Game?

Take your homebrewing to the next level with our advanced extract kit homebrewing guide.

We've packaged nearly 20 years of medal-winning homebrewing experience in this practical and results-focused guide.

Download your copy now and make great homebrew.


Advanced Kit Homebrewing series