Brewers have it pretty easy. Basically, all we do is create the conditions under which yeast will thrive. Yeast does all the work, we get all the credit. We make sure it’s not too hot or not too cold. We make sure it has enough to eat. And we try to protect it from bad influences like bully-bacteria and the yeast-gone-wild.
I started brewing after returning to Canada from the Lager Hell that is Japan partly because I never wanted to be without good beer again. I quite like Japan, but the country is not perfect. One big problem is the law against homebrewing. If I were to return and get caught homebrewing, however unlikely, I’d argue that the yeast was brewing, not me. I’d be right, but I’m not sure a judge would agree.
Fermentation is to Beer as Cooking is to Food
How many different ways are there to cook food? You’ve got baking, roasting, grilling, frying, boiling, steaming, curing, pickling, and probably a few more. But when you’re brewing beer you have just as many yeast strains as there are ways to cook food.
Yeast rounds out a beer’s character the way roasting does chicken, steaming does broccoli, or barbecuing does the lowly hot dog. It’s great to have so many different colours to complete our beers.
The Bad-ass Starter
My most odd or interesting yeasting practice (yeah I know yeasting is not a word, get over it) is the bad-ass starter. Bad-ass starter is just a cool way of saying really big starter.
How do I know it’s cool? My mom told me.
Whenever I plan on doing a strong beer, I make a weak beer with the same yeast first. Strong beers can take a long time to finish and doing one or three batches first makes a big difference.
Other than that, I do my best to keep the yeast happy and comfortable. They rarely communicate their appreciation, but I can tell that they are quite happy in the quality of the beer they produce.
For more yeast-related posts, check out this month’s yeast-themed Fermentation Friday hosted by Rooftop Brew.