Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation
I’ve read a bunch of brewing books over the last year, so I’ve decided to start writing a bit about them after I’m done.
Most everything I do when I brew comes from some little nugget of wisdom I’ve grabbed from either a book or website, so it only makes sense to give some of the highlights so that other people can possibly decide to read the same materials. I’m starting things off with the weirdest, but probably my favorite book I’ve read so far. Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation.
The Yeast Book
You know you’ve gone past casual brewer when you have the attention span to go through an entire book dedicated to yeast, but apparently I’m there. I didn’t just forge through this book for the knowledge, I actually enjoyed the hell out of it.
Amazon describes the book as a resource for brewers of all experience levels. The authors adeptly cover yeast selection, storage and handling of yeast cultures, how to culture yeast and the art of rinsing/washing yeast cultures. Sections on how to set up a yeast lab, the basics of fermentation science and how it affects your beer, plus step by step procedures, equipment lists and a guide to troubleshooting are included.
Before reading this book I really didn’t know how important yeast was in the brewing process. I’ve always known you needed to take certain steps to keep yeast happy, but I never had any idea how much the different variables can improve or change the brews you make. You can make a good beer without paying much attention to your yeast, but I don’t know that you can make a GREAT beer… and that’s the goal isn’t it?
“The Yeast Book” (as I call it) does a great job of riding the line between over-technical and interesting. The chemistry of fermentation is often explained, but it’s usually just there for those who might care. Your eyes can gloss over those parts, and you’re still going to get a lot out of this book. I don’t need to know chemical composition, and why things react the way they do on a molecular level. Leave that for scientists…
I would say this book is aimed at a mid-level brewer who is looking to take their beer and processes up a notch. There’s a lot of great information on how brewing yeast has evolved over the years, the different ways yeasts affect your beer, and there’s even a bunch of info on creating your own yeast cultures.
I don’t know that I’m going to be creating yeast cultures any time soon, but I did like learning about the different bi-products of yeast in fermentation and how to control many of them. For example, I have always fermented at about 68°, but I’ve recently lowered that to closer to 60° to reduce esters and go for a dryer finish.
I know it sounds nerdy as heck to read a book about yeast, but even if you’ve been brewing a while, there’s probably info in this book that can help you out. Like I said, I really liked this book. I can say pretty confidently that knowing more about yeast is going to give me better beers going forward. I wasn’t even aerating my wort before this book, but have since purchased the equipment to make it happen!