Liquid Beer Yeast vs Dry Beer Yeast For Homebrewing

Liquid Beer Yeast and Dry Beer YeastGuest beer blogger, Heather Erickson, shares some of her tips and insights about liquid and dry beer yeast.

When I first got into homebrewing, I was introduced to the Wyeast Smack Pack. This is a pouch of liquid yeast that has within it another pouch of activator that can be busted open by smacking it.

I can’t lie, it was kind of fun smacking that direct beer yeast activator and watching those little yeasties start working. Over the years, I have experimented with dry beer yeast and well, I’m torn between the results. Below are some of the pros and cons of liquid beer yeast vs dry beer yeast.

  • Pro: Liquid beer yeast offers variety
    With Wyeast offering over 50 different beer yeast strains for homebrewing, variety is quite possibly the spice of life with liquid yeasts. From a Belgian Strong Ale to a good ole American Ale, the variety of liquid beer yeast strains seem pretty endless. Besides the everyday ale/lager yeasts, liquid yeast varieties also include seasonal offerings.
  • Pro: Dry beer yeast keeps longer
    As a once a month home brewer, I find myself in two scenarios: either I am scrambling for brewing ingredients the day of, or I am crossing my fingers that my beer yeast is still healthy. The dry yeast alternative negates that second worry. Staying fresh for up to two years in the refrigerator, a dry yeast option like Fermentis Safale US-05 is a high-performing alternative to my usual go-to liquid beer yeast smack pack.
  • Con: Liquid yeast is more expensive
    If we are just looking at the numbers, on average, a liquid beer yeast pouch is about twice as much, if not more, than a packet of dry beer yeast. While cost might not be a concern if you prefer a certain type of flavor that a beer yeast provides, the economics are still worth noting.Shop Stir Plate
  • Con: You won’t know if your dry beer yeast is healthy unless you rehydrate
    Rehydrating dry beer yeast prior to pitching seems to be a point of contention among homebrewers. While some believe this step is necessary to ensure healthy yeast cells, others feel that it isn’t. Even dry yeast manufacturers are torn on the topic. A dry beer yeast packet boasts anywhere from 200-300 billion yeast cells, compared to 100 billion in liquid yeast. Pitching the dry yeast straight into your fermenter without rehydration could end up killing some of those cells, up to 50% or so. Taking that into account, the number of cells in both liquid beer yeast and dry beer yeast would end up being just about equal.

Besides water, yeast is arguably the most important ingredient in beer. Without it, you just have sugar water. That’s why there has always been such a big debate about using liquid beer yeast vs dry beer yeast for homebrewing your beer. It’s an important piece of the brewing puzzle.

My advice? Test out your tried and true Pale Ale recipe with a Wyeast 1056 and a Fermentis Safale US-05. Whichever pint you prefer is the yeast you should use.

Happy brewing!
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with three years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews and is a regular contributor to homebrewing sites. Find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.

How To Tell Your Significant Other You Want To Be A Brewer

wanting-to-brew-beerCan’t figure out how to share your homebrewing passion with your significant other? Guest beer blogger Heather Erickson shares some tips:
As a single, 30-something year old girl, the mention of my future goal of wanting to someday be a beer brewer sends all potential soul mates into a frenzy. They are intrigued. They are enthralled. In fact, I think a lot of the time, this fact about me is what keeps them coming back for more. While I might not have an issue with breaking the news to a skeptical significant other, you might. Below are my tips on how to gently break it to your love that you want to brew beer:

  1. Include them in your passion.
    My dating adventures over the past half decade have exposed me to a lot of fun activities, things I would have never tried if my significant other at the time wasn’t passionate about it. I’ve tried fly fishing, mountain climbing, marathon running, and even cooking (yes, I said cooking). My advice? Take them to a brewery, engage them in a beer tasting, allow them to get to know what you love about beer. Invite them on a brewery tour, go shopping at a home brew shop, include them at your next brew day.  Maybe even pick up a homebrew equipment kit to try out together. Once they understand why you love brewing beer, they will be much more open to your future career path.
  1. Find something they like about beer.
    Shop Home Brew Starter KitI understand that I am somewhat of an anomaly: a girl that loves everything about beer maybe more than life itself. While I usually reach towards craft beer, I do admit that there is a time and a place for a pint of yellow fizz. Surprisingly, I have come across many men in my date-able range that haven’t known that much about beer, whether it was about the craft or just trying to figure out what they like to drink. The teacher in me has taken them on and tutored their palettes to explore everything that is beer. Through lots of drinking – er, I mean, “research” – most have found at least one beer that they liked to drink. Even my good friend who can’t stop drinking Cherry Coke has found beer that she enjoys. My advice? Take your +1 on a journey, a palette journey to be exact. Find out what they like and who knows, you might find some new beers you do too. Pick up the book North American Clone Brews to replicate the beer at home that they enjoyed the most.
  1. Be patient.
    Now that your significant other knows about beer and why you like it, be patient. Any further prompting or pushing might just end up with them in the opposite direction. A huge misconception that I have come across is that the fact that I want to be a beer brewer means that I will be drunk all the time. Completely not the case. Drinking? Yes. Out of control drunk? Not at all. My example on this one is how my patience has paid off with my mom.Shop Steam Freak Kits Hearing that your only child, a girl at that, wants to dive into the world of beer brewing might have been a bit hard to take. Over the past three years, I have included Mom in all that is beer. From beer festivals to home brew shops, to even beer dinners, she has slowly become accustomed to my beer world. So much so, that for Mother’s Day, she made sure to pick a place for us to eat that would have a sufficient tap list for me. How’s that for acceptance? My advice? Include your honey in everything. Allow them to be a part of your dreams. They don’t have to love beer as much as you do. Over time, they will grow to accept your passion.

Beer brewing. While some consider it a work of art, others consider it a scientific process. Regardless of how you see it, be sure to include your partner in everything you do. The best cheerleaders to have in your corner are the ones that you love.
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with five years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews. You can find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.

4 Killer Tips For Kegging Homebrew!

Kegging HomebrewToday’s guest post is from beer blogger Heather Erickson. Heather takes us through 4 tips that she has found to be important while transitioning from bottling to kegging homebrew.


Let’s be honest beer lovers, there is just something about having a freshly poured pint of beer at your local watering hole. Don’t get me wrong, I love the portability of beer bottles and cans. However, beer from a keg just provides a little something more. If you homebrew and have a beer kegging system or a kegerator, it’s time to have that sought after fresh pint at home. Below are my four “must-do” tips for kegging homebrew:


  1. Beer choice is critical when kegging homebrew.
    Having your homebrew on tap at home will automatically make you popular with friends. That being said, choose a beer style that is a mix between a crowd-pleaser and a daily drinker for you. The first beer I kegged, a Honey Lemon Blonde, was a definite crowd-pleaser. Yet, I never reached for it. That keg took up precious kegerator real estate for far too long.
  1. Proper equipment is key when kegging homebrew.
    For homebrew, I like having a couple cornelius kegs on hand. These 1/6 barrel containers hold five gallons which is just the right amount for a homemade batch. If you already have a kegerator equipped Shop Homebew Kegging Systemwith a CO2 tank and regulator, you just need to add some vinyl gas and beer tubing, hose clamps in stainless steel, and two quick disconnects (one for gas and one for beer). Even if you don’t have a kegerator on hand, for under $300, you can score all of the equipment above plus a picnic squeeze faucet for pouring and have that draft brew in no time!
  1. Cleaning is important when kegging homebrew.
    Now that you have all your kegging equipment, it is time to start sanitizing. While you won’t be stuck with laborious task of soaking, sanitizing, and removing labels from dozens upon dozens of beer bottles, you still need to be conscious of the proper sanitation of your keg. I prefer using Five Star’s Star San Sanitizer. Be sure to include your vinyl hoses in the mix. You want everything that will come into contact with your brew to be bacteria free. Follow the instructions for cleaning a keg, don’t skip on any steps, and you will be guaranteed that keg is ready for beer.
  1. Be patient with carbonation when kegging homebrew.
    Much like sparging on a brew day, patience is needed to appropriately carbonate your brew. Rushing the process with a carbonating stone, while effective, doesn’t really give you that pub-like fresh pint. Not keeping track of the pressure you put on the keg can also alter the end result of your hard work. When kegging homebrew, I find that putting 30 lbs. of CO2 pressure on the keg and letting those little gas bubbles work their magic for three days is the way to a perfectly carbonated pint.Shop Temp Controller


There you have it, homebrewers! You too can have freshly poured draught beer at your fingertips from the comfort of your home. Why settle for a pint of someone else’s creation, when you can have one of your own? Get brewing, start kegging homebrew, and enjoy!
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with three years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews and is a regular contributor to and Find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.

The Top 4 Reasons You Should Join A Home Brew Club

Beer Club MeetingBeer blogger Heather Erickson shares why you should join a home brew club ASAP:
If craft beer were a rock band touring the country, home brewers would be its groupies. When groupies get together, well, you have a fan club. Enter the Home Brew Club: a place where home brewers can meet to collaborate, drink, and compete.

So why should you look up your local home brew club as soon as you finish that beer? Well, home brew clubs are great opportunities to…

1. Drink Together
At the very least, being a part of a home brew club gives you license to do just that: drink. Monthly meetings centered around learning about different beer styles or sharing your own home brew will need to be enjoyed. You will need to drink together in order to compare beers, identify tastes, and figure out beers that you might want to brew as a club. It’s also fun picking up several bottles of the same type of beer, including a home brew version, to see how yours stacks up against the pro’s.

2. Collaborate and Brew Together
Nothing is more fun than creating a beer recipe with friends – well, except maybe drinking the end result. Working on a group recipe, using the expertise of all members, is not only a team building activity, it gives you something to brew and ultimately drink together.

A home brew club in my area makes a plan to brew as a group once a month. Sometimes it is a clone recipe. Sometimes it is a favorite beer recipe from a member. Other times it is a group created recipe. No matter what they choose, brewing with others that love to brew makes the time fly by.

3. Compete Together
Let’s be honest. Home brew competitions can be a bit scary. Filling out the paperwork, dropping off the brew, and waiting for the results can just about put anybody into a frenzy. Why not compete with friends? Make a plan to enter either individual beers or club created beers with fellow members. That way, no matter what the outcome, you will have your own cheering section.

4. Learn Together
One of my favorite home brew learning experiences was at the National Homebrewers Conference last summer. It was unlike anything I had ever been to before. Filling conference rooms with fellow home brewers learning about new techniques, the science of beer yeast, and individual styles was so fun. Instant friendships were made based on the passion to learn more about our common language of beer. While it might not be feasible for your club to travel to such a conference, check out the AHA website to see what kind of online courses or web seminars are available. Local home brew shops might also offer some classes that your club could attend. Or, pick up some learning DVDs, like this one about Stepping into All Grain and try something new together.

At the end of the day, nobody can deny that beer is social. Shouldn’t your home brewing adventures be, too?
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with three years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews and is a regular contributor to and Find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.

Shandy Is Dandy: A Look At A Summer Time Favorite

Soda Pop For Making Shandy With BeerTraditionally, a Shandy is a lager beer mixed with lemonade or citrus soda. You will find quite a few examples on the supermarket shelves this time of year. However, with beer making it’s way into the craft cocktail circuit, a Shandy could really include any type of beer (especially a homebrew!) mixed with any kind of soda. Remember how you squeezed those extra lemons in a barely drinkable beer? Now, you can do that on purpose for new, palatable flavor combinations. Below are a few of my Shandy creations that will surely become your summer favorites:

The Margarita Mixer
Take one part Raspberry Ale and one part lime soda. I chose Granville Island’s False Creek Raspberry Ale with Dry Wild Lime Soda. The result? A tangy fruity beer beverage that tasted nothing like a traditional beer. In fact, it tasted exactly like a berry margarita. I could see this being a great entry-level beer experience for some of my margarita loving friends. Sunny afternoons with this in my pint would make me a happy lady!

Sweet Tea
Pour one part Pale Ale and one part Ginger Ale and voila…you have adult Sweet Tea! I used Deschutes Brewery’s Red Chair NWPA with Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale for my mix. Identical to that thirst quenching southern drink, this Sweet Tea was a delight. Dare I suggest pouring it over ice?

Black Russian
Use one part Chocolate Stout and one part Vanilla Cream soda and well, you have the first cousin of one of my favorite wells, a Black Russian. For me, this would be a great after dinner sipper. The vanilla and chocolate/coffee essence of this combo lends itself to being a great candidate for a beer float, too!

Use one part American IPA and one part cucumber soda….wait does that sound a bit questionable? Trust me, that cucumber flavor pairs well with a piney hopped IPA. I dug deep into my beer collection and poured a Presidential IPA from Diamond Bear and used local soda maker’s Dry Cucumber Soda. While I used to mix that particular soda with vodka, I think I might love it even more with an IPA.

Alright, seriously trust me here. If you tried my DryPA mix and liked it, you will LOVE this one. First, find a good Double IPA. I used Myrcenary from Odell, and once again used local soda favorite Dry Lavender Soda. With a strong backbone of a malty and hoppy DIPA, the lavender soda softened up with back of the palette. It almost cut out some of the overly bitterness and replaced it with a gentle floral note.

The key to any craft Shandy is being able to adjust the ratio to your specific taste. Try to keep citrus flavors with Wheats and Pales, savory flavors with Porters and Stouts, and herbal flavors with IPAs. So, grab some sodas, raid your beer fridge and see what new combinations you can come up with!

Care to brew some of your own sodas at home? E. C. Kraus has gear to make your own soda pop! ———————————————————————————————————
Heather Erickson is a homebrewer with three years experience and has competed in the GABF Pro-Am Competition. She writes the blog This Girl Brews and is a regular contributor to and Find her on Twitter at @thisgirlbrews.