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We get a lot of questions about yeast. Everyone seems to want to know how much yeast is needed for making 5 or 10 gallons of mash. For those that have read The Best Yeasts for Distilling, it's obvious we are very fond of bread yeast. We have found over the years that bread yeast can easily produce as much alcohol as other yeasts if used correctly.
The question we hear a lot is "How much yeast do I need for the ____ recipe?" The answer is "It Depends." Every type of yeast is slightly different. In general, yeast can be categorized into three different groups: champagne & beer yeast, distillers yeast, and bread yeast. Use the following guidelines for measuring the quantity of yeast that is added to a mash.
Champagne or Beer Yeast
When using a champagne or beer yeast it will have directions on the packet. Every champagne/ beer yeast we have ever used is packaged to ferment 5 gallons of beer. When using champagne/beer yeast use 1 packet for every 5 gallons of mash.
When using distillers yeast follow the directions on the packet. If there are no directions we suggest 1 tablespoon of yeast per 5 gallons of mash.
When using bread yeast we have had great results with Fleischmann's bread yeast over the years. Bread yeast can be bought in packet form or in 1-2 pound bulk packages. It is normally cheaper to buy in bulk but it is more convenient to store the yeast in packets. We prefer packets and can justify the slight cost increase for the convenience/storage factor. Just follow the steps we have outlined below in order have great results using bread yeast.
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Create a simple yeast starter for 5 gallons of mash
Add 1/2 cup of 110 degree water to a sanitized jar.
Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the water and mix thoroughly.
Add 2 packets of yeast (14 grams or 1 tablespoon if using bulk yeast).
Swirl the glass to mix in the yeast with the sugar water.
Let the glass sit for 20 minutes and it will double in size.
- Once the starter has doubled in size add it to the mash and aerate.
To learn more about yeast and fermentation check out our article on "Fermentation and Yeast".
Remember, it is illegal to distill alcohol at home for consumption. Do not do this.