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January 24, 2014
Last updated

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

Chief Operating Officer at Clawhammer

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.

Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation.

Champagne or Beer Yeast

Whiskey mash with Bread Yeast When 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. When using champagne/beer yeast use 1 packet for every 5 gallons of mash.

Distillers Yeast

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.

Bread Yeast

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

    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 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 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.



    Emmet Leahy is the Chief Operating Officer and lead product developer at Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company. He loves the process of developing new equipment for making beer at home just as much as he does using it to brew his own beer. He's also passionate about teaching people how to use distillation equipment to produce distilled water, essential oils, and with the proper permits, fuel alcohol and distilled spirits.

    • Does bakers yeast die above 8 % alcohol. And how can turbo yeast withstand to 15%?

      Posted by Mike on September 07, 2023
    • Suzanne.! First. .. go for higher yield. 110 is too hot. Tap water at 90. In 5 gal bucket add 5 bags sugar @ 2.2 lbs . Or 1 kg each. Mix and dissolve like a crazy person. Packets of fleshmans? Add 4 or 5 TBS active dry. At 90 degree sugar water. Add half a lemons juice. This brings the PH balance up in our tap water. While dissolving sugar, incorporate lots of air. Yeast need the oxygen to thrive. Keep ingredients and tools sterile. When when the sugar wash stops production of CO2, place the 5gl bucket outside if you live were it snows or place in deep freeze or fridge for 3 days. “Cold crash” brings clarification and dead byproducts to the bottom.turbo yeast works amazing for this whole process. With the only problem being… Without a clarification agent or cold crash period, the distilled product tends to have off flavors. You must wait that extra time to cold crash when using a turbo yeast. Or use a turbo clear because the packaged turbo yeast contains yeast enzymes that fuel the fungi into a frenzy producing alot of byproducts after feeding on sugar. Not just booze and CO2. So again. 90 degrees. Half a lemon. Or baking soda . (Ph. Up or down) test your water acidity. 5gal bucket water to 10-12 lbs sugar. Oxygenation before adding yeast. And after fermentation has stopped place in cold environment for 3 days. To fring sediment to crash at bottom. Don’t get me going on distilling a wash haha have fun

      Posted by Nick on December 27, 2022
    • In 10 liters of water 2.5kg sugar how much yeast I’m using baking yeast

      Posted by David on September 15, 2022
    • Seems like most people. Need to actually read more. Learn. What your doing. Before you do it and always know. No matter. How long. You have been doing something you can always learn. More. Or better ways tricks and tips. I’m still a novice but. I. Feel like. I may have been born. For. This. Cuz it fell naturally for myself. I found out. That. My. Experience felt natural. If it seems difficult dont be afraid to ask. As. No question is dumb it’s only dumb to not ask theses questions

      Posted by Bryant on July 13, 2022
    • Why is it important for the alcohol to be cooled down through codensor when coming out and what temperature should it be at when coming out

      Posted by Sam on May 16, 2022
    • If im making 30liters of whiskey how much yeast and sugar do i need

      Posted by Sam on May 16, 2022
    • I make about a 3 gallon mash
      I have a packet of 8.6 Oz fermfast turbo yeast
      Is that to much for a 3 gallon batch ?
      I know some of it is nutrients , just seems a bit much

      Posted by ALan on November 13, 2021
    • I’m making my 3rd & 4th gallans of Wine right now,& I’ve created my own brand called Strawmagranate. I love it.

      Posted by Tommy Hamilton on March 30, 2021
    • I made a sugar wash bout four gallons put one pack of flesh dry bread yeast in bout 5 or6 pounds sugar and raisins in think that be enough yeast

      Posted by Kevin on January 26, 2021
    • In a small batch of make your own at home how much yeast would I use for 64 fluid ounces of juice for the 48 hour recipie

      Posted by Kasey on December 22, 2020
    • In the recipe above, how much does 2 packs of Fleishman’s cover 5 or 10 gallons??

      Posted by tommychic on September 09, 2020
    • (((Does yeast have anything to do with Fighting liquor vs courtin/lovin liquor?
      What is the difference in the process/recipe?
      How do You insure Your going to make courtin/lovin liquor and not fighting liquor?)))

      Answer—-You must be kidding, Right? —Do Yourself a huge favor and stop at your local store, and buy yourself a bottle of "crown royal apple. This is excellent courtin Liquor, and it contains less that .15 fights to the pint. If your question was serious,,,, please do not attempt to distill anything flammable, ever.

      Posted by on May 04, 2020
    • I would like to make some homemade moonshine in a growler… growler is 64oz, which would be 1/10th the volume as you list your recipe for… could i just do the math and downsize your ingredient amounts to 1/10th or is there a different ratio I should use?

      Posted by Kevin on February 10, 2020
    • Does yeast have anything to do with Fighting liquor vs courtin/lovin liquor?
      What is the difference in the process/recipe?
      How do You insure Your going to make courtin/lovin liquor and not fighting liquor?

      Posted by chris on December 05, 2019
    • They claim they can make hangover free liquor.
      Does yeast have anything to do with creating hangover free liquor?
      How do You get Non hangover liquor?

      Posted by chris on December 05, 2019
    • Im new at this. Got a 25 gallon still.put i 25 gal water, 25 lb sugar,25 lb cracked corn, a forth cup yeast. Took 5 hrs before i got a drip. Temp. 208 to 210 an all i got was 30 ounces of shine. What did i do wrong? Please help

      Posted by Jim on October 09, 2019
    • At what temp should I add yeast to corn mash distillers act dry yeast

      Posted by RIck on April 15, 2019
    • A week ago made 2 batches 6gal each of corn mash using ~8lbs corn, 1lbs of malted rye, 1lbs of malted barley and 8lbs sugar in each batch. Used 48hour turbo yeast and bubble like crazy for 2 days and has been bubbling a little still, 5 days later. Yesterday I made another 2 batches and they bubbled like crazy for only 1 day and have since stopped. Should I try adding more yeast? I now have some Distillers active dry Yeast should I hydrate some and add?

      Posted by Ray on March 26, 2019
    • Hey bright,think I’m the guy your looking for.Have been making corn shine,Rye whiskey,applejack whiskey for years and you have to taste my black birch whiskey,all from 150 year old recipes.

      Posted by SNeakypete on November 26, 2018
    • Hey bright,think I’m the guy your looking for.Have been making corn shine,Rye whiskey,applejack whiskey for years and you have to taste my black birch whiskey,all from 150 year old recipes.

      Posted by SNeakypete on November 26, 2018

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