Shipping Yeast in the Summer

The hot Summer weather brings new challenges to brewing, especially when it comes to shipping yeast. The temperatures yeast are subjected to while shipping can cause a lot of issues for a brewer, so it's important to follow the best procedure possible to ensure healthy yeast upon arrival. Let's go over what happens to yeast, and what you can do to make sure your brew day and fermentation go off without a hitch.

Shipping Yeast in Hot Conditions

Yeast is damaged by repeated or extended exposure to heat, so it's important to keep the yeast as cool as possible during transport. This damage typically causes a decreased viability in the package, which can lead to a lag in beginning of fermentation if a starter is not used. This extended lag phase can put a batch of beer at greater risk of off flavors and esters, or even an infection if your equipment wasn't sanitized properly.

In extreme cases, where the yeast was shipped across a large part of the country or in excessive heat, the yeast may be totally non-viable upon arrival. Here are some ways to help protect the yeast during transit and ensure a healthy colony ready to ferment your next batch of beer.

shop liquid yeast

How to Win the Fight Against Heat

Ice Packs: Ice packs are the most commonly used method to help keep yeast cool during the summer. They won't keep your yeast super-cold the entire way (depending on shipping time), but it gives the yeast a cold head-start on its journey. Homebrew supply includes a free ice-pack with all liquid yeast orders, so we have you covered there. In the extreme heat, you may want to consider an extra pack for added security in the hottest stretch of Summer.

Depending on the weather, you may not need an extra ice pack when shipping yeast, but at a fraction of the cost of yeast, it doesn't hurt either. But beyond ice packs, what else can you do to help your yeast?

Avoid The Weekend: Remember that most carriers don't deliver or move packages on Sundays. This means that an order placed on Thursday or Friday may sit in a warehouse on a hot Sunday, all day, before resuming transport on Monday. The best way to avoid this is to place your order on a Monday or Tuesday so your order arrives before Sunday. Homebrew Supply uses Fedex for it's flat rate shipping. Use the map below to estimate the required time for delivery to your location. Keep in mind this map is approximate!

Shipping yeast - number of days to ship map

Make A Starter: The best thing you can do regardless of the shipping temperature is to make a yeast starter. This lets you proof the yeast and confirm it is viable, as well as build the cell count to an appropriate pitching rate.

Making a starter it easy, and doing so presents new options when it comes to yeast storage and propagation. To make a starter, you'll need a flask, a stir-plate and stir-bar, DME, yeast nutrient, and yeast. Check out our Deluxe Yeast Starter Kit if you want to pick up all those things in one go.

To make a starter, begin by heating up 3 cups of water and dissolve 3 ounces of DME and an 1/8th teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Bring that to a boil for a few minutes. After boiling, carefully transfer the hot solution to an Erlenmeyer flask, and place the flask in an ice water bath to cool the starter wort to 70F.

shipping yeast - yeast starter

Once the starter wort is cooled, pitch your yeast and insert a sanitized stir-bar. Place the flask on a stir-plate and turn on enough power to create a vortex. Yeast starters let you control pitching rates, ensure yeast viability, and build up yeast colonies from small sources (like bottle dregs). To learn more about yeast starters, check out this article.

Shipping yeast in the Summer doesn't need to be a worrisome task. With a little bit of planning, you can make sure you have plenty of healthy yeast ready on brew-day.

by David Doucette
David is a full blown fermentation enthusiast who has dedicated much of his free time to learning and sharing the art of homebrewing. He's spent several years documenting and writing homebrewing information on his blog Hive Mind Mead. He's written over 60 articles between Homebrew Talk and Homebrew Supply.
written by David Doucette

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