White Labs Just Changed the Yeast World
Written by Jason Youngblood on April 16, 2014 in The Beer Diaries
The world of yeast cultivation hasn’t seen a major innovation in over a century. White Labs’ new process and technology is a game-changer. Traditionally yeast is grown in stainless steel fermenters, transferred to bright tanks, then consumer packaging is filled from these. White Labs has created a new way to grow yeast in a flexible container and deliver it to consumers in the same container. This is called the FlexCell process. The FlexCell process reduces the chance of contamination since the yeast won’t come into contact with the outside world until it’s pitched. White Labs achieves this by using a breathable inner layer and micro-perforated outer layer. The new PurePitch packaging allows gas to pass out of the container while not letting anything else in. This also reduces the environmental impact White Labs has. The PurePitch package is what commercial customers will see delivered to them starting June 2nd.
“For the last five years, our team has invested countless hours developing this proprietary technology from the ground up,” said Chris White, president and CEO of White Labs. “The team’s commitment to stretching the limits of science, and in turn pushing the entire fermentation industry forward, is a testament to their dedication to their craft.” They even brought in a rocket scientist to help develop the materials needed to make this possible.
The FlexCell process reduces White Labs environmental impact greatly. White Labs estimates a 76% reduction in their plastic consumption as a result of the new packaging. They also estimate an annual savings of nearly 5 million gallons of water, 13.3 million kwh of electricity, and more than 1,500 gallons of caustic sanitizer consumption. As a result, these reductions in resource usage allow White Labs to produce yeast more cost effectively. White Labs stated that yeast sold in the new packaging will be less expensive, and prices should be more stable. Much of the recent price fluctuation was due to their dependance on plastics which is tied to the volatile petroleum market.
White Labs has been making yeast using the FlexCell process for the last 6 months before putting it in their regular packaging. Select brewers will be able to get their hands on the PurePitch packaging before June. On June 2nd, commercial brewers, distillers, and wine makers ordering yeast in 1-10 liter sizes will receive the new PurePitch packaging. White Labs will not be using this technology for the homebrew market or commercial containers larger than 10 liters… yet.
The new patent-pending technology is called “FlexCell”, because both the container and process are flexible. There are a lot of things that White Labs will be able to do with this new technology beyond ensuring that the yeast remains unexposed to the world before the brewer opens the container. But first the company wants to get it into brewers’ hands and get their feedback.