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Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Brewing Elements) Paperback – October 16, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Brewing Elements
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Brewers Publications; 9/16/10 edition (October 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0937381969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0937381960
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Schmidt on January 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a pretty good home brewing book. It's NOT a yeast biology textbook or a yeast-ranching manual, though, and I think the other recent review is a bit unfair in its expectations. (If you're looking for that kind of information, it's out there. Start with George Fix.) It is technical enough to get its point across without requiring me to dig out old college textbooks to understand its references.

If you're an intermediate- to advanced-homebrewer, this is worth having. (True beginners should probably concentrate on big-ticket techniques first.) It will teach you everything you need to know to get the best performance out of yeast purchased from reputable sources and help you shepherd it through a typical 4 or 5 generations.
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After reading the other reviews I was a little unsure if purchasing this book would apply to homebrewers. After reading this book extensively I believe that this is an excellent starting point for homebrewers who want to learn how to culture and store their own yeast. The other reviews are correct, there are a few basic introduction chapters in the beginning but the vast majority of the book is an extensive guide on yeast culturing practices from start to finish. The author(s) do an excellent job explaining concepts and procedures in a clear way giving the reader a step-by-step guide, with some photographs.

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.
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I was put off by some of the early reviewers of this book, who didn't find it as useful as they had hoped. And, perhaps partly because they had lowered my expectations--but mostly because of what I read in this book--I am overjoyed with what I found.

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.
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A lot of information - more than I will use. The Internet and John Palmer's book provide the steps required to make a yeast starter, this book includes a few good charts (how much yeast to make), but again this is readily available online (Mr. Malty). It goes into yeast storage, but not long term storage, as in how can I freeze this yeast so I don't have to pay $6+ a pop every time I brew. All in all a book I may reach back to for some notes, but your money is better spent elsewhere (like a 2L flask, stir plate, etc.).
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Format: Paperback
cool book, reads like my undergrad micro texts. very useful if you want to understand the biology of yeast, and to store, propagate, and pitch yeast from your own stocks and doing it on a pro level. but, for a home brewer who does 10 batches of beer a year or so, not so useful. i was thinking that there could have been a chapter about the yeasts for each style of beer and how to get the most of the yeast and get certain characters/flavors. or perhaps even a bit on using wild yeast, wort souring, mash souring, and souring in the secondary...or perhaps even some charts from wyeast, white labs, and east coast yeast on the characters of their yeasts....or perhaps some info about oxygenation and flavor, open vs closed fermentation for hefe-weizen...none of that stuff. and, perhaps some discussion about wine, sherry, or mead yeasts? nope. the style books do more of that, so really, this book is not very useful to those of us who just buy a pitchable tube every so often. worth a read if you are a microbiology major (like me) or going to propagate your own strains or if you are running a pro lab. lay people would likely be bored to death though....
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