When I first started brewing, the first yeast I used was WLP 005 (British Ale) from White Labs. That was my first attempt at an English style ESB (extra special bitter). I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t do a yeast starter, just pitched straight in from the tube. Amazingly, the beer turned out drinkable, though nothing special. It was more of a miracle that the beer turned out at all.
At the time there was quite a bit of information floating around but it was a mass of hodge podge. It is a fairly recent occurance (at least from my perspective) to find much of the info from the past and even now is becoming much better organized. Those learning to brew are coming into a world where it is incredibly easy to find the answers they seek. A good example of this is the book Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, written by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff.
Chris White is of course the founder of White Labs. He started the company back in 1995 after developing a library of brewer’s yeast. Jamil Zainasheff is the force behind Heretic Brewing as well as the “Jamil Show” and “Brew Strong” on the Brewing Network. He is also the “Style Profile” columnist for Brew Your Own magazine.
Where does that put us now? Oh ya, so we were talking about yeast and the need for organized knowledge (sometimes I wonder if I could put file folders in my head). So Mr. White and Mr. Zainasheff got together a few years ago and put together a great resource for brewers. The practical knowledge in this book is great for every level of brewing. I know for me, it put quite a bit of the information I was lucky to decipher from quite a few disparaging sources in one place.
In a practical sense, I had been doing starters for a while before reading the book. But it was with better understanding that I put into practice better ratios, this increased the consistancy of my beers. Knowledge equals better brews.
Time for a pint…