Those of you who have recently visited your local homebrew shop in search of liquid yeast have no doubt noticed that one of your favorite brands has a different look. White Labs is slowly transitioning from the thick plastic vials that you’ve always used to a new, sleek, fancy pants white pouch that they call PurePitch®. This new packaging will completely replace the vials for all strains, eventually. So, I bet all of this has you wondering ‘What’s different about the PurePitch®?’ and ‘How does it affect my brewing?’.
PurePitch®: More than just a new face
White Labs had two goals in mind when they set out to develop a new method for growing and packaging their yeast. They needed to reduce their environmental impact and reduce the number of steps in their production. PurePitch® was the result of this five year effort, and it is now becoming available to the homebrew market. The new PurePitch® packaging was made possible by a process trademarked by White Labs and dubbed FlexCell™.
This new process allows White Labs to essentially grow and package their yeast in the same container. As a result, the yeast is never transferred from one container to another and is never exposed to anything but the inside of the pouch. This drastically reduces the resources used to clean and maintain those containers, and that reduces costs and stress on the environment. The material that the PurePitch® is made out of has some nice features as well. First off, it’s lighter than the clunky vials and uses less plastic. The material is also slightly breathable and allows the yeast to offgas slightly and prevent a buildup of pressure. Fun stuff.
What does all of this mean for you?
You now you have a good handle on what the new look is, but you’re probably curious about what it means for you and your brews. Well, there are a number of advantages to this new look, and I’m going to cover them here using sweet sweet bullet points.
- Fresher yeast. Yeast grown and packaged in the same container spends less (zero) time in transfer and gets to you faster. The PurePitch® has a six month shelf life (compared to the vial’s four) and will give you a higher viability rate. Keep this in mind if you’re using a yeast calculator that assumes a four month viability!
- Stable price. The reduction in the resources used in this new process have resulted in a savings that should allow White Labs to maintain their current pricing over the next few years. A lighter packaging also means that shipping costs are kept down, and an increase in the cost of gas and/or diesel will have less of an impact on their overhead.
- Ultimate purity. The potential for contamination is nonexistent with the PurePitch®. The elimination of the need for transferring the yeast from vessel to vessel also made it impossible for any foreign matter to make its way in. This means you get the freshest and purest yeast available on the market!
The transition from the vials to the PurePitch® definitely makes sense when you take into account the many quantifiable benefits it has to offer. The fact that any stress on the environment could be reduced is sweet enough, and the fact that the product is actually better is just the icing on the cake! However, I’ll always miss twisting open one of their vials and hearing the hiss of CO2 escaping as the yeast threatens to foam all over your countertop and hands. There’s something kind of mad scientist-y about standing over your freshly brewed batch clutching a tube full of billions of organisms (cackling/not cackling) and I just don’t feel quite the same cutting open a pouch with a pair of sanitized scissors. Au revoir vials! You will be missed.