There is always a debate among homebrewers on Bakers Yeast vs Brewers Yeast used for fermenting beer or wine. It is necessary to know the two strains of yeast in detail to ensure you use the right strain for the right purpose.
In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. We will also go in-depth on whether you can use them interchangeably for brewing and baking. We will also elucidate when and why yeast eventually stops fermenting according to the strain.
Let’s dive in!
Bakers Yeast vs Brewers Yeast
Bakers yeast and brewers yeast can be used for brewing since both yeasts are different strains of the same species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast species is used for fermentation to make beer and wine alcoholic, and to allow a lump of dough to rise into a loaf of bread. The unicellular fungus named Saccharomyces cerevisiae is part of hundreds of other species discovered so far.
The major difference between Baker’s yeast and Brewers yeast is thought that the end product of baker’s yeast is negligible amounts of alcohol but a lot of carbon dioxide, while brewer’s yeast produces both alcohol and carbon dioxide in equal amounts which is completely false.
True, the final beer or wine will have a lower alcohol content if you use baking yeast for fermentation since it will stop fermenting when alcohol levels reach 8% by volume as brewers yeast has a lower alcohol tolerance but that is not a negligible amount of alcohol.
Being a draft brewery, we would not recommend homebrewers to use bakers yeast to ferment beer since you may get undesirable off-flavors. It is possible to use it for brewing but it is better not to if you can avoid it.
How do brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast differ?
The table below describes the major differences between Brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast in the fermentation of sugar. It is important to note that most baker’s yeast is instant yeast meaning it takes a shorter time to ferment compared to brewer’s yeast.
|Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain (ale yeast) and Saccharomyces pastorianus (lager yeast)
|Saccharomyces cerevisiae Strain
|8-15% alcohol content by volume (ABV) range- Can go as high as 25% ABV
|Up to 8% alcohol content by volume (ABV)
|2 tbsp contains 7g total carbs, 3g net carbs, 0.5g fat, 7g protein, and 60 calories.
|Dried yeast has just 50 calories, 6g total carbs, and 6 grams of protein in 2 tbsp
|B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and biotin (B7)
|B vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (B12)
|Chromium, selenium, potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
|Iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum
|Costlier than baker’s yeast
|Less costly than Brewer’s yeast
As the table describes:
- Baker’s yeast is a fast-acting yeast that raises the dough pretty fast unlike brewer’s yeast which is slow acting. This means you don’t want to use brewer’s yeast for baking since you will have to wait for a long time for the dough to rise, do you want to wait for a day for your dough to rise?
- Brewer’s yeast is better suited for higher alcohol content compared to baker’s yeast. This means if you use the baker’s yeast to brew your beer or wine, you may end up with an alcoholic drink very low in alcohol content. Would you want your malted barley not to be fully converted to alcohol by the yeast strain?
- Baker’s and brewer’s yeast are different strains of the same yeast species and thus all ferment sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Alcohol tolerance of Brewers yeast and baker’s yeast
There is a difference in the alcohol tolerance of baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. That is not to say that either can’t be used for brewing.
Almost all brewer’s yeast falls into the category that can tolerate between 8-12% ABV range for alcohol tolerance. It is important to note that some English ale yeasts go as low as 7%.
On the other hand, some high-gravity Belgian and other ale yeasts can tolerate 15%. However, the yeast with the highest alcohol tolerance is super high gravity ale yeast from England which can ferment up to 25% alcohol content when used correctly.
As described above, baker’s yeast can only tolerate up to 8% alcohol content by volume. This makes them less tolerant to alcohol content as compared to brewer’s yeast.
However, both strains of yeast can be used for brewing. But the recommendation is to use the brewer’s yeast to reduce instances of off-flavors.
Bakers yeast for brewing
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the one-celled fungus that is known as “brewer’s yeast” or “baker’s yeast”. The yeast strains are used for sugar fermentation in the wort or dough producing alcohol and carbon dioxide that make up alcoholic drinks or dough to rise when making bread and other baked products.
You can use baker’s yeast for brewing beer or wine. However, we do not recommend it since the brewing recipe are designed with brewer’s yeast in mind. When baker’s yeast is used for brewing it can lead to undesirable off-flavors in your beer.
Moreover, as discussed above, baker’s yeast has less alcohol tolerance meaning you will get a beer that is lower in alcohol content. This may be a problem to some but not to others.
Thus, you can use baker’s yeast to ferment sugars in your fermentation chamber and produce ethanol and you will also be able to produce carbonated beer since carbon dioxide is the other product of the fermentation process.
Bakers vs brewers yeast for baking
Both brewing yeast and baking yeast belong to the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae which means they are quite similar. They may be different strains but they are the same species.
Yeast ferment sugars in the dough to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast is what helps the dough to rise during bread making.
You can use brewer’s yeast for baking– it produces excellent bread. However, the challenge with this is always the amount of time that you will leave your dough to rise. Moreover, it may produce some baked products such as cookies or cakes that are too bitter since it is not sweet.
Thus, if you are not worried about the final taste of your recipe, then you can replace the baker’s yeast with the brewer’s yeast.
Can you substitute bakers yeast for brewers yeast?
You can substitute baker’s yeast for brewer’s yeast in baking. However, as described above you may not like the final taste of your recipe.
The reason is that brewer’s yeast is a bit bitter as compared to baker’s yeast. Moreover, the recipes do not consider the time it takes for the dough to rise when using brewer’s yeast, unlike baker’s yeast.
However, both strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are used for the same purpose of fermenting sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol tolerance of most brewer’s yeast is higher than that of baker’s yeast.
Both one-celled fungi (baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast) have an exceptional nutritional status. They are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. There may be slight differences but your food will have a better nutritional status when either yeast strain is used.
Is brewer’s yeast the same as instant yeast?
Instant yeast is dried more quickly compared to dry yeast and milled into finer particles and sometimes some additives are added to it. However, the preparation of the two is quite similar bar the drying time.
Thus, instant yeast dissolves and activates faster because it is milled into finer particles. For instant yeast, you skip the proofing/dissolving step as you use it, unlike dry yeast. Dry yeast, on the other hand, needs to be activated in order to make it active for brewing or baking.
Instant yeast is used for bread machine bread or quick rolls and other quick baking projects. Therefore, it is different from brewer’s yeast which is used for beer making.
Instant yeast can also be used in beer-making at home. However, you will need to use almost double the amount of brewer’s yeast and it can lead to off-flavors which are not desirable.
We have compared baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast on different facets including nutrition, strain, uses, cost, and alcohol tolerance among others. This will help you know when to use either strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
As discussed, the alcohol tolerance of baker’s yeast is lower compared to that of brewer’s yeast meaning it can tolerate up to 8% alcohol content by volume. Brewer’s yeast according to the strain can tolerate up to 25% ABV with the majority ranging from 8-15% alcohol content by volume.
You can however use baker’s yeast for brewing if you can manage the undesirable off-flavors. Moreover, you can use brewer’s yeast for baking if you can stand the bitter flavors.