Brewing yeast is a vital component of any beer, cider, or mead making process. The yeast converts sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which gives the drink its distinct flavour and aroma. But what is the lifespan of liquid brewing yeast, and how can you ensure that your yeast is healthy and active throughout its lifespan?
First, it's essential to understand that liquid brewing yeast is a living organism, and its lifespan is affected by a variety of factors. These factors include the strain of yeast, the temperature and environment it is stored in, and how it is handled and propagated.
The lifespan of liquid brewing yeast can range from a few months to a few years, depending on the strain and how it is stored. Some strains of yeast, such as Belgian saison yeasts, have a shorter lifespan and may lose their viability after a few months, while other strains, such as American ale yeasts, can remain active for up to a year or more.
The temperature and environment in which the yeast is stored also affect its lifespan. The rate of degradation of liquid brewing yeast varies depending on the specific strain of yeast and the storage conditions. Yeast should be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place to prevent exposure to light, moisture, and oxygen, which can damage the yeast cells.
"It does not 'die' as soon as the yeast reaches room temperature, which is often a misconception with new brewers."
At room temperature, the viability of liquid brewing yeast can start to degrade within a matter of weeks. It does not "die" as soon as the yeast reaches room temperature, which is often a misconception with new brewers. It is a slow degradation over weeks or months, depending on the temperature. The yeast can therefore handle some time out of refrigeration where necessary with minimal cell loss. This degradation rate can be slowed down further by storing the yeast in the fridge, where the temperature is typically between 2-7°C. When stored at these temperatures, liquid brewing yeast can maintain its viability for many months.
Handling and propagating the yeast properly can also extend its lifespan. When handling liquid brewing yeast, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or agitation. Propagating yeast through a starter culture can help to revitalise older yeast and extend its lifespan.
Ultimately, the lifespan of liquid brewing yeast depends on a variety of factors, and there is no set expiration date for yeast. However, by storing and handling the yeast properly, you can extend its lifespan and ensure that it remains healthy and active throughout its use.
In summary, the lifespan of liquid brewing yeast can vary depending on the strain, temperature, storage conditions, and handling techniques. By understanding these factors and taking proper care of your yeast, you can ensure that it remains healthy and active throughout its lifespan, and produces delicious beer.