We'd like to hear your comments about stories you've read on this site. Or you can tell us about your experience with yeast as a brewer or wine maker. We publish a few of the letters in The Yeast Bank and give answers, if warranted. Please include your name, city, and, if applicable, your professional affiliation.

To read more reviews of strains, visit the main White Labs site here.

First  Quarter 2002

"It was astounding looking"

"Dear White Labs,
I began brewing in 1993 with extracts and dry yeast with fair to good
success. Even when I had moved on to all-grain brewing in 1994, my
beers were good, but not great. I had hung up my fermenter until last
Spring (2001) when my daughter decided to write a school paper about
brewing beer. I thought what better way to learn than to actually brew
a batch. We headed to the local homebrew supply store with our
ingredient list for a Continental Pilsner (all grain). I decided to use
one of your White Labs products for the first time, the WLP800 Pilsner
Lager Yeast. After eight weeks fermenting in my refrigerator, we kegged
the batch with a borrowed keg. The first glass we poured revealed a
crystal clear, pale Pilsner with a thick, tight, head. It was
astounding looking. We tasted .... it was incredibly delicious. What an
outstanding yeast you've made. Since than, I've rekindled my love for
homebrewing and have made three more batches, all with White Labs
Yeast. They have all been equally outstanding. My Bigfoot Barleywine
(S.G.: 1.102) is presently fermenting with WLP565 Belgian Saison. I
have no doubt that this will also be an outstanding success. Thank you
for making such a fine product."
-- Bill Ramsey, via email

Not much to add, except, thanks!
White Labs Inc.

Fourth  Quarter 2001

Do you use barley?

"Dear White Labs,
I am writing to ask if the wine/cider/mead yeast cultures (esp. WLP715 and WLP720) include material from barley or other wheat-related grains. My wife is celiac, which means she has immunological responses to proteins from wheat, oats, rye, barley, and triticale. That means I've changed from brewing beer to wines and meads. .... "
-- Via email

Thank you for writing. Yes, all of our yeast cultures do contain malted
barley. I'm glad you asked. A lot of the dry yeast is going to that
medium, too, so you might want to check with those manufactures as well.
-- Chris White, White Labs Inc.

Third Quarter 2001

Can I freeze my yeast?

"Is there any way I can cryogenically freeze and store my yeast at home, the way you do yours? If I were able to buy yeast in bulk the way I buy 50lb sacks of grain, my life would be much easier. Thanks in advance"
-- Bryin, via email

"Not really. You can freeze yeast in a regular freezer (-20C), but it
doesn't last long, mostly due to freeze/thaw cycles. You need to
cryogenically freeze them (-80C and more) to keep them for long periods of time. And even doing that, it is only good for storing very small amounts that are used to seed cultures for growth. The best way to store yeast slurry is to keep CO2 pressure off it and keep it cold (refrigerator).
-- Chris White, White Labs Inc.

Second  Quarter 2001
Weizenbock and Hefeweizen IV

"I have a batch of weizenbock (1.063) in the primary, and the Hefeweizen IV is producing quite a bit of sulfur. From the yeast's description, this is to be expected. Is there anything I can do temperature-wise to help it dissipate?
Is it better to rack it early to the secondary to get it off the yeast, or better to leave it on the yeast a little longer than usual? I'd appreciate your advise."
-- Don (via email)

It is normal, go ahead and leave it on the yeast. As long as you don't cap
the fermentation or lower the temperature, the sulfur will dissipate in
about one week. Then go ahead and transfer. Thanks for your question.
-- Chris White, White Labs Inc.

"Chris -- you are so right. I just racked to the secondary, and a sampling revealed no trace of sulfur. Not too phenolic, not too much banana, no bubble gum, just a real nice balance. This is going to be a great beer. Thanks!"
-- Don

Second  Quarter 2001
Seeking Servomyces

"I saw something about your new Servomyces and want to know some more about it. ... How does it do what you purport it to do (feel free to go as
technical as you want)? ... "
-- Todd, via email

Todd, Thanks for writing. Servomyces is in fact a dried brewers yeast, but
is grown in a special process with micronutrients that are taken up by the
cells. These micronutrients are then available to brewers yeast during
fermentation, and are taken up by brewers yeast much more efficiently then with nutrient salts. The Servomyces yeast is killed before packaging, and is added during the last 5 minutes of the boil. There is more information on our web site, www.whitelabs.com, in the craft brewery section. ... The yeast is dead so it acts as a protein or trub and falls out of the fermented wort. There are no effects on flavor profiles. 
-- Mike Greenblatt, General Manager, White Labs Inc.

Editor's note: Read the full article for more information about Servomyces. 

First Quarter 2001
Southwold and Mild

"I am excited about the Suffolk county ale yeast in your Platinum Series. Right now I am searching for new yeasts that would be appropriate for Mild, either Northern UK or Southern UK styles. 
Do you have any thoughts on the Southwold strain (WLP025) as a mild yeast?"
David, via email

You can use it for a mild, but it is pretty dominating. I think it is best for bitters, IPAs, and dark ales. I think the best strains we have for mild are our WLPO02 and WLP009, English and Australian Ale Yeasts. The English leaves a nice sweetness to a mild, and the Australian is similar but with a different ester profile.
-- Chris White, White Labs Inc.

Fourth Quarter 2000
A vote for English Cider

I just wanted to contact you to let you know how much I and my brewing partners in crime have enjoyed your English Cider yeast recently released in your Platinum Series. We LOVED IT!!! We did all that we could to make it financially worth your while, as we bought a total of 11 vials from the two brewshops in our area. By the way, it makes a pretty good pale ale too! Please continue year-round production of this yeast & we will do our best to make it profitable!"
-- Jon, via email

Editor's note: In December, English Cider Yeast (WLP775) became one of many new strains added to White Labs' list of permanent homebrew offerings. Read more about the new strains.

Third Quarter 2000
More Dusseldorf please

"I can't tell from your web site if Dusseldorf Alt Yeast (WLP036) has graduated to become a permanent White Labs offering but, if not yet, it has my vote. The dry alt I brewed has been getting rave reviews and my friend the beer judge immediately pegged it as an alt and asked where I found the yeast. ... The alt has made me switch to White Labs."
-- Bruce, via email

Editor's note: Yes, Dusseldorf Alt Yeast is now a permanent offering. It is one of 33 permanent yeast strains available to homebrewers. The two Platinum Strains released every other month brings the total number of strains available to homebrewers to 35.

Third Quarter 2000
Information on starters

"Your homesite mentions yeast starters, do you have any information more specific? I'm a new homebrewer and am about to try a Hefeweizen with your specialized H-W yeast. My first batch (pale ale w/ your British Ale yeast) is tasty but I had a slow start. This was from a customer at my local brew supply store who left the refrigerator door open. I would like to see viability before I pitch from now on. Any information your company could supply would be greatly appreciated."
-- Ted, via email

And ...

"I'm a homebrewer that has used your yeast exclusively since they became available in my area. I've always been very happy with them and appreciate the innovation you brought to our hobby. I have a couple questions regarding making starters with your yeast. I strive for as large a pitching rate as I can to avoid contamination chances. I start with one of your tubes and 500ml with 1/4 cup of DME, let the yeast settle (usually 24 hours) and pitch the 500ml into 1000ml with 1/2 cup DME. 
I pitch the large starter directly into a well oxygenated 10
gallons and visible fermentation usually starts within 4 - 6 hours. I know this doesn't sound all that bad but my questions stem from not being overly impressed with the amount of yeast settled in the ~1500ml starter.
So can you recommend anything different with my two starters? And will
the agitation from a magnetic stirring plate significantly increase cell count? I've seen them advertised but not sure if they're worth it."
-- Art, via email

A starter is a good way to "proof" the yeast. Make up a 1-2 pint wort, gravity ~1.040, hopped as normal. Boil for 30 min., cool to room temperature. Pitch one vial, shake well and let sit for 1-2 days. You should see a little bit of activity, and yeast settle out. But you might not see any activity, because the volume is so small, the yeast will be done with that liquid in a manner of hours. You can either decant the liquid off the top, or leave it in and pitch the whole volume. Most pitch the whole volume. Good luck.
-- Chris White, White Labs Inc.