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⇒ How to use 'Baking Yeast' to make home brew beer

using baking yeast with beer brewing

Can I substitute active baker's dry yeast for brewer's yeast?


I was doing the shopping last night and I came across a line row of baker's yeast and I wondered if you could use that to make homebrew.

After all, I'd heard of beer a craft brewer made from yeast found on his hipster beard, so why not use bread yeast?

So I did some research, and it turns out you can use baking yeast as it is an 'active dry yeast'.

The real question is should you use bakers yeast to make beer


Yeast is a wholly active part of the fermentation process, it's hugely relying on all kinds of factors to go right and a good yeast will make a good beer better.

Many craft brewers would probably shudder violently at the thought of using a yeast that's normally used to make bread but let's have a look at the idea.

You can totally use baking yeast for brewing, as both yeasts (beer and baking) are different strains of the same species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Which sounds like a good starting place!

A good question to start with is, what is the difference between baker's yeast and brewer's yeast?

The difference between the two kinds of yeasts is their cultivation.

Each has been grown for the attributes they bring to the final product. In the case of beer yeast, the popular strains have been cultivated for hundreds of years to hone their specific attributes being the beer flavour produced, attenuation (how well the sugars are fermented by yeast), and consistency.

I found a great comparison of the two: brewer's yeast was bred to produce more alcohol and less carbon dioxide while baker's yeast was bred to make more CO2 and less alcohol.

So be warned using a baking yeast in place of brewing yeast is like driving a Ford and expecting to drive like a Ferrari!

There is, of course, nothing wrong with driving a Ford.

How much baker's yeast to pitch? 


I've read that 11 grams of baker's yeast per 5 gallons or 23 liter fermenter drum are recognized by many brewers as a fair amount to pitch in.  Too much more will probably be redundant. 

What ABV alcohol does bread yeast make?


Bread yeast tends to ferment alcohol up to about 8% without too much effort which is a fine tolerance range for beer, but when trying to produce alcohol beyond this level, the bread yeast begins to struggle, very often stopping around 9% or 10%.

And that's actually because beers are generally brewed between 4 and 8 per cent.

Clearing baker's yeast


When using this yeast, you just have to be conscious that your beer won't taste as clean or look as clear as the beer that you may have become accustomed to brewing.

This is in part because the yeast doesn't settle quite as well as most brewer's yeast does.

If you are bottle conditioning, another trick you could try to clear the baker's yeast is by cold crashing the fermented wort (often referred to as the primary) and then racking it to a bottling bucket and then bottling.

The reason is that the baker's yeast will likely stay suspended in the beer for a lot longer than brewing yeast does (it has a tendency to be awesome at floccing out and then sticking to the bottom of bottles). The cold temperature will force the baking yeast out of suspension and to the bottle of your beer.

You can of course also try and use finings to help clear the baking particles.

The careful pouring and chilling the bottles before pouring will help alleviate this somewhat.

Can I use baker's yeast to make mead?


You sure can. Wine too! Some specific mead recipes state to use baker's yeast!

Can I use baker's yeast to make apple or pear cider?


You sure can use baking yeast with your homemade hard cider brewing. If you do things right, you should be able to get a 6 percent alcohol content. 

I'd recommend you hydrate the yeast before you pitch it. 

Be careful about adding too much sugar. 

If you are really brave, you can even ferment apple juice with bread yeast. But you are gettin gin to making the kind of hooch they make in prison at this point...

Using baking yeast to rescue a beer that's stopped fermenting


If you're worried your pitched beer yeast has run out of puff, in a pinch you could add some baker's yeast to help get things going again.

Just remember by adding a second yeast, the intended nature of your beer's taste will change.

If you go down this path you may need to activate the yeast in water before you pitch it, just to give it a helping hand.

What baking yeasts can I use?


Anything from your supermarket is a good place to start. In New Zealand, Edmund's Sure To Rise suits fine. Fleischmann's active dry yeast seems a popular choice overseas.

There's a lot of amusing internet chatter about the "1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter".

Do 'oxygen absorption' bottle caps work?

bottle caps that absorb oxygen

Dedicated brewers will know that beer exposure to oxygen should only occur before fermentation and not after.

It's the same with food - oxygen will damage food so that's why many foods are packaged in plastic with 'oxygen scavaging' features - look at potato chips, the bags they come in are filled with nitrogen!

So if you are trying to minimize the amount of oxygen in your bottled beer, mead or wine, you may want to consider using oxygen absorbing caps.

The bottling process can add unwanted oxygen into the beer.

To remediate this you can do things like being careful with your pouring into the bottle and using a bottling wand and if you want to do more than that, the bottle caps can help remove the oxygen that sits above the surface of the beer and between the bottle cap.

If you are looking to cellar or age your beer, these caps could help you achieve your goal.

If you intend to drink your beers quickly, you may not need them.

Do oxygen bottle caps really work?


Now, let's take a skeptical view of this concept first. Do you really need to remove oxygen from the beer bottle?

If you have bottle conditioned a 1000 beers and never had a problem, do you even need to use these crowns?

They can if you are intending to age beers or extend the hoppiness of your beer.

The loss of hops aroma can be one of the first signs of oxidation.

In addition, the compounds extracted from hops will can with oxygen, which forms inert compounds that have less aroma and thus a reduction in hop flavor.

Bottle caps which 'scavenge' oxygen from the beer will help prevent or delay this reaction from occurring.

If the food production and beer brewing industries spending millions of dollars doing it, then it surely works.

How do oxygen absorption caps work?


Oxygen-absorbing caps have an internal liner that once activated by water, will absorb oxygen in the headspace of the bottle.

Oxygen absorbing technology is based on oxidation or a combination of one of the following components: iron powder, ascorbic acid, photosensitive polymers, and helpful enzymes.

Glucose oxidase is an enzyme that is popular in the elimination of O2 from bottled beer or wine.


How do you use oxygen absorbing caps?


These caps activate once you get them wet. So once they are capped on, you can invert the beer and they will stand ready to begin absorbing oxygen.

Many suppliers recommend to not wet or sanitize caps in advance of your bottling session or they will not work correctly. They’ll still close the bottle off from the air like any other cap, but the oxygen-absorbing function will be used up.

This does mean you can sanitize them just prior to use.

But that might lead you to ask:

Do I need to sanitize oxygen absorbing caps?


This author personally no longer sanitizes beer caps. They come out of their bag clean and frankly after 1000s of beers bottled without them, I've never had a problem. 

That said, if it is your standard practice to sanitize caps, then a quick dunk in some Star San is just fine, as long as you do it just prior to bottling and not well in advance. This is because the wetness activates the liner of the cap.

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Boneface is a great brewery to have a beer and a meal

bonehead brewery logos

I recently had an opportunity to have a pint at the Boneface Brewery in Upper Hutt.

It's a great establishment!

boneface ipl lager logoSet simply in an old factory of some kind, it's part eatery part brewery.

The staff were a bloody friendly bunch and the roast lunch we had was bang on. Do try the potatoes...

We did a short tour of the brewery and while it was standard stuff, it was well received as it was clear they had a genuine love of beer and were only too happy to share their knowledge.

For myself, the beer of the day was their Outlaw IPL which was a hoppy lager. Yes, this is a very popular style of beer these days, I did, however, find it simply refreshing.

The 'Juice' was not for me, it was too tart. My drinking buddies reported the Darkness Stout was very agreeable!

I particularly liked the artwork above. They had it in large posters on the side of the brewery - reminded me of Judge Dredd!