Sam Adams founder Jim Koch swallows active dry yeast before drinking, claiming it can help keep you from getting wasted. Today we'll look at the science of alcohol metabolism to find out if this trick could actually work.
'yeast' on Serious Eats
San Francisco is widely regarded as the mecca of sour-style bread, though that reputation really has more to do with the culture of bread baking, the high concentration of great bakers, and the stiff competition than any sort of magical bread-baking climate (despite occasional claims to the contrary). What's the state of the scene today? We tasted a dozen different loaves available in San Francisco to get a lay of the land.
It turns out you can acquire that unique Belgian strain used by your favorite brewery, even if there isn't a viable substitute at your local homebrew shop. Commercial breweries rely on yeast just like homebrewers do, and if they are bottle-conditioning their beers, there are likely some living yeast cells in the bottle, just waiting to ferment your next batch of beer.
Forgoing the precision of modern technology, these cider makers embrace the old-world method of fermenting with yeast already present on the skins of the apples. While producing cider using native fermentation can be unpredictable, the results can offer an array of savory and earthy flavors—these ciders are more complex than any others in the American cider landscape.
If there's one trend in craft beer that has fought hardest to beat out the hoppy-hoppier-hoppiest IPA arms race, it's the boom in popularity of sour beer. These small production, time-intensive brews offer an intriguing history (and hype-inducing rarity), but it's their unique flavor that seems to turn most drinkers into dedicated sour beer fans. The tart, puckering taste is often met with a shocked, love-it-or-hate-it type of reaction, and those with the former can't seem to get enough of the stuff. The secret ingredients that set these beers apart from the rest of the brews on the shelf are actually living creatures: yeast and bacteria.
Folks in the beer industry like to say that brewers don't really make beer. Brewers make wort—which is the stuff that yeast makes into beer. Yeast and its performance has a huge impact on a brewer's final product. But what does that taste like?
Sour ales are one of the biggest things in craft beer right now. The style that started out as a niche Belgian import not too long ago has spread like wildfire across American bars and breweries. Producing sour beer at home can be difficult, but with some experimentation and education there's nothing stopping a homebrewer from creating a tart and funky ale just like the best of the commercial brewers.
Brewers have always reused yeast, though they did not always know it. The German Beer Purity Law, "Reinheitsgebot," from 1516 said that beer could only be made with three ingredients: barley, hops, and water. But German brewers following this law carried over a small portion of each batch to the next, not knowing that this practice transferred the all-important yeast from the old batch to the new. Families in Scandinavia once passed down prized beer-brewing sticks that were used to stir the wort and magically induce fermentation...by introducing yeast to each new batch of beer.
Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation walks us through some of the mystery of brewing, and shows us how we can better use yeast to produce the flavors that we want in our beer.
Prior to the 18th century, yeast was the unknown quantity in beer production. Yeast goes unmentioned in the Reinheitsgebot, the 1516 Bavarian 'beer purity law' that specified only water, hops and barley as 'approved' ingredients for beer. At that point, yeast was simply not a recognized part of the brewing process. Brewers were aware that something 'magical' happened somewhere along the line, turning their watery mixture into a pleasant alcoholic beverage, at least when all went well.
Fresh yeast imparts a flavor that isn't present in breads or pizzas made with dried yeast. It's not the same as sourdough, but it has a distinct flavor of its own. Here's how to buy it, proof it, store it, and revive it.
The strain of yeast that a brewer selects—as well as the way the fermentation is carried out—has a direct affect on the sake's aroma and flavor. Knowing a little about yeast can help you pick out flavors in sake, and guide you toward discovering which types of sake suit your palate best.
Some people think yeasted dough recipes are overly fussy because many specify a very narrow temperature range for the water that's used to proof the yeast. But is it necessary to be that precise? What is the optimum temperature for getting your yeast going? And is it the same for all yeast?
Yeast is such a common thing that we don't give much thought to how amazing it is, and what a boon it is to bakers, brewers, and winemakers. And yeast is such a fun guy. Or, more accurately, a fungi. It converts the fermentable sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol, and those bubbles, trapped in the matrix of gluten, are what causes bread to rise. When the dough is baked, the yeast dies but the pockets of air remain, giving the bread its unique texture.
Fermentation is a fascinating thing. It's what gives a great pizza crust (and all yeast-leavened breads, for that matter) its light, airy structure and distinctive complex, slightly sour taste. But what's the best way to ferment dough? This week, I try to find out.
[Photograph: pizzacrustyeast.com] Fleischmann's has introduced a new pizza crust yeast. Have any pizza-makers out there tried it yet? The breadheads over at The Fresh Loaf seem to like it. Fleischmann's product site for the new yeast makes it clear that it's aimed at people who want to make pizza quickly. You simply stir it in (no need to proof), knead, and stretch it out. It contains dough relaxers so you don't have to let it rest before shaping. Have you used it? Let us know what you think....
For a long time I was terrified of yeast. After several ill-fated attempts to bake with it in my teens (cinnamon buns that turned out like hockey pucks, a leaden loaf of homemade rye, pretzels reminiscent of teething sticks) I gave up. Yeast and I were like oil and water, I decided. We just didn't mix. Then last year I accepted a recipe-testing job that required me to make a whole chapter's worth of yeasted baked goods: braided challahs, cheese Danishes, whole wheat loaves, the list went on. To my surprise, they turned out great. Even more surprising was how much I enjoyed the smell of yeast blooming in warm water; kneading the dough by hand; and the patient process...