Liquid yeast is a popular choice for homebrewers because it offers a wider variety of strains than dry yeast. However, liquid yeast can be more difficult to ship than dry yeast, and it can be more susceptible to losing its viability during shipping. These Brew Dudes tell a tale of woe about liquid yeast shipping and some thoughts about it all.

The Tale of Liquid Yeast Woes

I ordered the ingredients for a Munich Helles, including the Munich lager strain Wyeast 2308, for my beer from the Jar of Destiny 7th pick. Despite the careful packaging with ice packs, the yeast shipment must have encountered hot summer temperatures during transit. When I received the order, the yeast smack packs didn’t inflate as expected, hinting at potential viability issues. Undeterred, I decided to proceed with a starter, hoping to salvage whatever viable yeast remained in the packs. However, my efforts yielded minimal activity and no noticeable fermentation.

Shipping Challenges And Yeast Viability

My experience raises an important question about the viability of liquid yeast strains, especially when shipping long distances. Mike spoke of the difficulties in transporting yeast across the country, emphasizing that the stress and temperature fluctuations during transit might compromise the yeast’s health.

He thinks yeast companies like White Labs, Wyeast, and Omega focusing on higher yeast cell counts in their packages to combat viability issues that underline the industry’s ongoing efforts to address shipping-related problems. Even though liquid yeast quality has improved over the years, a solution to the challenges posed by shipping remains a concern.

Dry Yeast Alternatives

Mike talked about the idea of using dry yeast strains as a potential solution to shipping-related liquid yeast issues. The quality and variety of dry yeast have significantly improved, providing homebrewers with a reliable alternative. We both have had positive experiences with using dry yeast and and maybe choosing a reliable yeast strain for all our brewing may be a solution. If dry yeasts continue to expand their varieties, then I will be more than happy to use them.

Yeast Starters and Freshness

We still value the making of yeast starters to promote healthy fermentation. They can help you understand if your yeast is viable enough for your beer’s fermentation. If you’re lucky to get liquid yeast that appears fresh from the “Best Buy” date, a yeast starter may not be necessary but it is a nice insurance policy.

We wonder about the viability percentages and how they apply to the “Best Buy” date. We are starting to explore the idea of conducting yeast cell count experiments to better understand the impact of freshness on fermentation success.