How to Use Dry Yeast

Dry brewer’s yeast has come a long way since the days when little foil packets of dubious provenance accompanied malt extract cans of unknown age.

Dave Carpenter Jun 9, 2014 - 3 min read

How to Use Dry Yeast Primary Image

It’s still true that liquid yeast offers more variety than dry, but the quality of dry products has improved tremendously. For homebrewers who make just a few styles or simply want a backup plan in case of a brewing emergency, dry yeast’s convenience can’t be argued.

Following are a few tips to make the most of your dry yeast.

  • Keep it cold. Dry yeast tolerates room temperature storage better than liquid yeast. However, keeping it cold improves viability even longer, so store it just as you would your liquid cultures.
  • Hydration is key. Always rehydrate dry yeast in a small amount of lukewarm water before pitching. Some brewers simply sprinkle dry yeast on top of fresh wort and call it good, but it is more stressful for the yeast. Hydration before pitching encourages an optimal number of healthy cells.
  • Aeration is optional. During the drying process, the yeast manufacturer incorporates key nutrients needed for cell growth. Consequently, dry cultures can be pitched into oxygen-poor wort. Aeration won’t hurt, but it’s not necessary.

Dry yeast strains generally work better for malt- and hop-focused styles than for those that rely on yeast-driven complexity. Pale ale, IPA, stout, porter, and brown ale all lend themselves well to fermentation with dry yeast, but Belgian styles, saisons, and German wheat beers are best brewed from a liquid culture.

If you normally brew with Wyeast 1056 or White Labs WLP001 (both said to be related to Sierra Nevada’s Chico strain), give Safale US-05 a try. It’s virtually identical. Try Safale S-04 for your British ales and Danstar Nottingham Ale Dry Yeast at low temperatures for faux lagers. And if you’re tired of propagating big starters for your lagers, consider pitching two packets of Saflager W-34/70.

Dry yeast can’t do everything. But if you’re in a hurry or even just lazy, it’s great to know there’s a packet or two in the fridge.