All you homebrewers out there know how rewarding it is to craft your very own homebrews. Sitting back and popping open a bottle of your creation is leagues above drinking a beer you bought at the supermarket.
Once the brewing bug bites you, it’s hard to focus on anything else. You may find yourself thinking about how to perfect your concoction or how to get a little adventurous with it, like can you make beer with bread yeast?
Let’s find out.
What Does Yeast Do?
Why is this tiny fungus so important? Yeast is crucial to brewing beer because it produces the carbonation and alcohol beer drinkers love. Without yeast, beer would be malty grain water with a side of hops.
Yeast is vital to the brewing process because it turns sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol. All yeast does this, even bread yeast.
Brewer’s Yeast Vs. Bread Yeast
Bread yeast and beer yeast are scientifically the same.
According to PubMed, they are both a one-cell fungus, scientifically named Saccharomyces cerevisiae. So, on a biological level, these two types of yeast are the same species. However, they are two different strains from this fungus. That is why they can be exposed to identical environments and produce different products.
Over time, each strain of yeast has been perfected to perform specific tasks—bread yeast for baking, and brewer’s yeast for brewing beer. Growing different yeast strains is a complicated process that took years of cultivation to achieve.
Bread yeast typically comes in two forms. It is either a dry powder-like substance or cake yeast, also referred to as fresh yeast. When exposed to carbohydrates, like the starch from flour, it produces a lot of carbon dioxide and a little bit of alcohol. This small amount of alcohol burns off during the baking process, so you don’t have to worry about getting buzzed from your bread.
There are many varieties of brewer’s yeast available. It can come in liquid or powdered form, all designed for specific types of beer. Most brewers buy a particular brewer’s yeast to match the kind of beer they want to create. This strain of yeast produces much more alcohol and less carbon dioxide than its closely related cousin, bread yeast.
Brewer’s yeast can produce higher alcohol levels because it is more resilient. Those tiny bubbles that form unique mouthfeels are the carbon dioxide yeast byproduct. And, you probably know enough about the alcohol effects already.
Can You Make Beer From Bread Yeast?
Now that you know how yeast works, you probably realize making beer from bread yeast is possible. If you want to try to brew beer this way, you don’t have to change anything else about your brewing process besides the type of yeast. Use the same amount, and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised by the final drink.
Keep in mind, bread yeast will produce a vastly different tasting and looking beer than you have brewed before. Do not go into this experimental brewing expecting to pour the same beer you made last time using brewer’s yeast.
What Makes Bread Yeast Beer Different?
Now, you are probably wondering why people do not brew with bread yeast more often if it works. Let’s look at the common reason brewers steer clear of this baker’s staple.
- Distiller's yeast (dad)
- 1 lb
- Ferments up to 22 percent before slowing
Bread yeast was not artificially selected for its high alcohol producing abilities. Over the years, through a delicate, long process, it was cultivated for its ability to interact with starches and produce way more carbon dioxide than alcohol. Because of this ability, it is more sensitive to large amounts of alcohol and is more likely to die off if it is sitting in a pool of its own byproduct.
Bread yeast will produce alcohol, but according to the American Home Brewers Association, beer from bread yeast usually cannot have higher than a 6% alcohol volume. This percentage is within the range of most beers, but if you desire a very high alcohol content, it is unlikely bread yeast will get your brew to that level.
Brewer’s yeast has been developed to have low levels of phenolic flavors. Craft Beer and Brewing described phenolic flavors as “clove-like, medicinal, (or) smokey.” However, these flavors are not desirable. Bread yeast may release more phenolic flavors because it has gone through a different development process. So, with bread yeast, your beer may taste off.
Bread yeast was fostered to create more carbon dioxide and less alcohol because this is desirable in bread making. So, when this type of yeast is used for brewing beer, it makes a much more carbonated beverage.
Flocculation is the yeast’s ability to clump together and sink to the bottom of your brew. You want high flocculation qualities in your yeast because it equals a clearer beer. Low flocculation yeast will give rise to a cloudy drink. Bread yeast is more likely to have poor flocculation abilities, so you may find your concoction is hard to see through.
If you are new to the brewing game, you may want to stick with brewer’s yeast for now. It was perfected for a reason, and it makes your chances of brewing a delicious beer much higher. But, for you adventurous brewmasters out there, give bread yeast a try. It’s a fun way to switch up your traditional brewing process. Just don’t be surprised if your experiment yields a cloudy, low-alcohol, phenolic beer.
Can you make beer with bread yeast? With the right environment, any yeast will produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. With trial and error, you may create a unique beverage from bread yeast.