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January 24, 2014

Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka and Moonshine - How Much Yeast?

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. If you have read The Best Yeasts for Distilling you know that 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 you add to your mash.

Champagne or Beer Yeast

Whiskey mash with Bread Yeast If you are using a champagne or beer yeast it will have directions on the packet. Every champagnebeer yeast we have ever used is packaged to ferment 5 gallons of beer. If you are using champagne/beer yeast use 1 packet for every 5 gallons of mash.

Distillers Yeast

If you are 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.

Bread Yeast

If you are using bread yeast we have had great results with Fleischmann's bread yeast over the years. You can buy bread yeast 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 increasefor the convenience/storage factor. If you follow the steps we have outlined below you will have great results using bread yeast as well.

    Create a simple yeast starter for 5 gallons of mash

    1. Add 1/2 cup of 110 degree water to a sanitized jar.
    2. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the water and mix thoroughly.
    3. Add 2 packets of yeast (14 grams or 1 tablespoon if you are using bulk yeast).
    4. Swirl the glass to mix in the yeast with the sugar water.
    5. Let the glass sit for 20 minutes and it will double in size.
    6. Once your starter has doubled in size add it to your mash and aerate. 

     

     If you would like to learn more about yeast and fermentation check out our article "Making Moonshine - Fermentation and Yeast".

     

     

    • mid mo mac, so how much mash did you make and how many runs did it take to get the twenty gallons in your

      Posted by dwight on February 14, 2014
    • In reply to Mountain Mike: I bought the 10 gallon kit from Kyle in March ‘13. I didn’t know anything about shining and wanted to start because my grandpa has been making whiskey for forty years. He used a traditional pot still without a thumper and a worm. He’s DEAD SET in his ways and was telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing throughout the entire process of ‘my’ first run.

      I pretty much followed the information on this site religiously and after everyone had tried my shine… He ended up rigging his still to copy my still.

      BTW, I used Fleischmann’s and my mash worked perfectly! I’ve got 20 gallons of 94 proof shine aging in two oak barrels and it’s coming along very well! Not to mention, when you use bread yeast it literally smelled like heaven for two weeks when the mash was working.

      Posted by Mid-MO Mac on February 12, 2014
    • Mountain Mike, I also use the bread yeast and get GREAT results every time… Give it a try (as outlined above) and you will not regret it. IT WORKS GREAT!!!

      Posted by Scott R. on February 08, 2014
    • Saving money to buy one of your 5 gallon still kits. Thought very highly of your site until you added the part about BREAD YEAST being used to make alcohol. Everyone in the entire drinking and distilling world knows not to use bread yeast. Please answer if this was just a joke written to confuse old people like me or did bread yeast really work?
      You have the greatest information on distilling I have found.

      Thanks, Mountain Mike

      Posted by Mountain Mike on February 07, 2014
    • I want to know if you would suggest using your 1 gal still kit to make a thumper for your 10 gal still kit

      Posted by Jason on January 29, 2014


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