The BeerSmith Podcast #128: Beer Brewing Yeast and the Yeast Life Cycle with John Palmer

Do you want to know more about beer yeast? Have you ever wondered about its life cycle and how you can use that knowledge to perfect the way you brew beer? In this episode of The BeerSmith podcast recorded live from Homebrew Con 2016, John Palmer lets us in on the secrets of a perfectly brewed beer by helping us understand the role that yeast plays in beer brewing.

But first, a little info about our guest: John Palmer is the author of the top-selling book How to Brew. This definitive book on homebrewing has seen several iterations, from its 1st edition published in 1995, to its 2nd edition published in 2000 and its 3rd edition published in 2006. 10 years later, John is releasing a 4th edition that’s scheduled to arrive just in time for Homebrew Con 2017. John is also the co-author of Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew and co-host of the How to Brew video series. An engineer by profession, he’s an active member of the homebrewing community and uses his scientific background to refine his techniques and methods of brewing beer.

In this episode, John discusses what we can look forward to in the 4th edition of his book How to Brew. The new edition has been made more accessible and less technical for homebrewers everywhere, and examines the evolution of homebrewing over the years. In the episode, he also talks about the three phases on the life of a yeast cell (adaptation, high growth and hibernation phase). He goes into the detail about each phase and discusses how a brewer is in some ways a yeast rancher. He also discusses how oxygen plays a huge role in the process, and how to promote the yeast to flocculate and fall out of the beer.

If you want to understand how you can use science to be a better homebrewer, you will not want to miss this episode. We suggest that you take down notes while watching. Also, don’t forget out to check out John’s book How to Brew when you get the chance. Now, let’s get on with the episode!

Main Takeaways from the Podcast

  • A lot has changed in homebrewing in the past 10 years
  • Fermentation science has gotten better
  • Huge explosion in the variety of ingredients available now to home brewers
  • A yeast cell’s life cycle has three phases
  • How yeast is similar to sheep
  • How a homebrewer is a yeast rancher
  • The importance of aerating your wort
  • How oxygen fits into a healthy yeast growth