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Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Brewing Elements) Paperback – October 16, 2010
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From the Back Cover
From the foreword: "...loads of sound information and techniques that will work for brewers at all levels, from beginning homebrewers to production brewers at any sized brewery. Included are fantastic tips for working with all kinds of yeast strains and beer styles, introducing new strains, and how to use best brewing and lab practices to keep your yeast healthy and your beer tasting great."
Mitch Steele, Head Brewer/Production Manager, Stone Brewing Company
About the Author
Chris White lives in San Diego, Calif., USA, where he serves as President and CEO of White Labs Inc. Chris founded White Labs in 1995 to manufacture yeast cultures and provide fermentation services to the brewing, wine, and distilling industries. Chris has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis. Jamil Zainasheff started brewing in 1999 and soon started winning awards in homebrew competitions. He has brewed beers in every style recognized by the Beer Judge Certification Program, taken medals in the finals of the National Homebrew Competition every year since 2002 and amassed more than 20 Best-of-Show awards. He contributes articles to Zymurgy and is the Style Profile columnist for Brew Your Own.
Top customer reviews
The authors give examples of how commercial breweries grow up their yeast to pitchable rates, but the vast majority of this book is written for homebrewers who are working in 5 and 10 gallon batches. Everything is covered in detail, from washing and rinsing yeast harvested from a primary fermentation vessel, pitching rates, yeast starters, harvesting yeast, storing yeast, preparing slants and petri dishes and streak plating yeast cells to grow and isolate different colonies. For those homebrewers who think that yeast culturing is way too much of a headache and prefer to purchase a new vial of yeast from the store for every batch, please give this book a chance and see how easy it is to culture and isolate your own yeast. The author(s) do an excellent job of describing how complex a brewery laboratory can be, but they do an even better job of teaching the homebrewer to use the exact same techniques at home using nothing more than a pressure cooker, agar, dry malt extract and a wire inoculation loop.
If you are a homebrewer who is just starting out and are using extract and partial mash recipes then perhaps yeast culturing is too large of a next step. However, for all-grain brewers who are looking to take their recipes to the next level and begin culturing their own strains and producing strains that are unique to their recipes then this book will be an excellent starting point. The author(s) teach the reader how to streak yeast onto a petri dish and isolate individual colonies as well as how to select the healthiest colonies as well as how to step up these colonies to a pitchable size for a 5 gallon fermentation.
All of the other reviews for this book are fairly accurate and each has their own degree of truth, but by all means to not let the negative reviews for this book sway your decision. It does not matter if you are a homebrewer or a full size commercial brewery, if you have considered culturing your own yeast to save money or to create new and unique yeast strains, please give this book a chance.
This book divides brewing into two parts: the brew day, which it calls the "hot side" (which it does not really cover), and what happens after you boil your wort, which it calls the "cold side." This is what the book focuses on. It's about yeast, sure: what they are, how they work, what happens to them under various conditions. But it's really about fermentation, this cold side: the way we control those various conditions to get yeast to do something we want them to do: make great beer.
And in its focus, White and Zainasheff hammer home the need for repeatability--same amount of yeast, same temperature, etc.
I think they are on to something. And if you suspect that your beer could stand some time and attention spent on this cold side of brewing, there is a wealth of knowledge here. For example, if you had to brew all your beers with just one yeast, what would it be? Two? Three? etc. How many yeast varieties should you try to maintain (based on how often you brew)?
This book treats the reader seriously. That means whether you are doing 5 gallons at a time with malt extract or running a microbrewery, the assumption is you want to make the best beer possible--and that fermentation control is key. I did have to smile at the chapter title "Your Own Yeast Lab Made Easy." And yet, for all the high-tech possibilities mentioned that might make your head spin and your wallet empty, there were many simple, free approaches to controlling and measuring your beer. And I think that chapter title captures the spirit of the book--first, to encourage you to think more scientifically about your beer (by which I mean "systemically," where you brew with intention)--which can be a bit off-putting if you think of yourself as a free spirit, creative type; second, that it is as "easy" as you want it to be. Take notes. Sniff. Taste. Do it again.
Do you need this book to brew award-winning beer? No. You just need a way to put the right amount of yeast in your wort and hold it at the right temperature(s) for the duration of fermentation--every time. If you are convinced, put this money toward a few flasks and a stir plate, a temperature controller, a fermentation chamber, and a way to heat or cool your beer as it ferments--and hold it to within 1 degree F of your target. But if you aren't convinced, this book might give you the information and knowledge, and allow you to benefit from the experience of these gentlemen.