Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: May 20, 2021
Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast_Sound Brewery

Ah, the magic of yeast. Whether you are a seasoned beer homebrewer or you’ve been baking bread since the Easy Bake oven was popular, yeast makes things delicious. But sometimes, in a pinch, the yeast you want for your next edible or potable project isn’t available. Or maybe you’re just curious if you can use distillers yeast to make bread and vice versa.

When it comes to distillers yeast vs bakers yeast, we’ll answer which one is the best for what, so you don’t make a mistake the next time you pick up yeast from the grocers.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is one of the most important parts of brewing and baking, depending on what kind of yeast you’re using. Yeast, however, is a bit more complicated than a packet of granules that go into a bowl or fermenter. In reality, yeast is a single-celled organism that multiplies rapidly when exposed to oxygen. And, after consuming oxygen, certain strains of yeast will convert any fermentable sugars into alcohol.

But not all yeast is created equal. Some are better for brewing while others are better for baked goods.

What is Distillers Yeast?

You may have heard of brewers yeast, which is found in a range of items, including some pet food. Now, we introduce distillers yeast, a species of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is incredibly talented at metabolizing sugars and producing alcohol. Most of the time distillers yeast is used to enhance the flavors and aromas of spirits like moonshine, rum, and whiskey. Certain types of distillers yeasts are better for some types of alcohol than others.

Distillers Yeast Strains

For those who are planning on using distillers yeast for brewing, there is one thing you need to know: not all distillers yeasts do the same thing. Saccharomyces cerevisiae has multiple strains, each of them drastically different from one another in terms of performance.

If you ever wondered if you can use distillers yeast to make bread, you’ll be happy to know that there are bread yeast strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that produce incredible amounts of carbon dioxide, causing bread to rapidly rise. At the same time, those variants of distillers yeast produce little to no alcohol, because the yeast dies off too quickly.

What is Bakers Yeast?

Bakers yeast is a strain of yeast best designed for at-home and commercial baking. You can find bakers yeast virtually anywhere, though it might not be called bakers yeast. Some forms include cake yeast, which is also called compressed, wet, or fresh yeast; dry yeast; and fast-rising or instant yeast.

One thing that ties all forms of baking yeast together: it all begins as cream yeast, or a liquid yeast.

Types of Bakers Yeast

For those who want become Master Bakers, there are two kinds of bakers yeast to pay attention to: instant yeast and active dry yeast.

Instant yeast, also known as bread machine yeast, is ground fine enough to dissolve almost instantaneously into dough. You don’t need to proof instant yeast, as it can be added directly to dry ingredients.

Active dry yeast is mainly what you will find in the supermarket. It is formed when all moisture is removed from the yeast before it gets ground into granules. Active dry yeast can be added into the dry ingredients of bread dough, without any need of proofing.

Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast: Which is Best for Alcohol?

Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast_Sound Brewery

In general, you want a yeast that is going to produce a high amount of alcohol in the shortest length of time possible. Some types of distillers yeast are inexpensive. Others are more proprietary blends, such as Turbo yeast, which is a blend of distillers yeast strains that result in higher levels of alcohol and quicker fermentation times. The yeast also comes with a portion of nutrients that keep the yeast working for longer, so you get more defined flavors in your beer or spirit. It isn’t recommended for making moonshine or whiskey, but you can use it for beer.

Do keep in mind that distillers yeast often results in a neutral flavor, so you may want to experiment with various strains until you find the flavors you want.

On that note, when we look at distillers yeast vs bakers yeast, you might wonder which is best for alcohol. Both are similar in that they add flavor but have less resistance to higher alcohol by volume. Distillers yeast will be better suited for a more neutral alcohol, such as alcohol. You can also use it to create a denser bread.

How to Choose the Best Distillers Yeast

Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast_Sound Brewery

If you’re keen on picking up some distillers yeast for your latest alcoholic indulgence, there are a couple of things you need to know. You want a yeast that can get through the amount of sugar, using up as much as possible. Depending on the spirit you are crafting, full attenuation, or the consumption of all available sugar, might be the goal.

You also want to select a strain of distillers yeast with a decent temperature tolerance. Some strains will need much cooler temperatures, and that can be a challenge for those who have limited cooling capacity (or don’t want to pay high utility bills). So, if you are choosing distillers yeast, aim for one that can ferment above 32 degrees C (90 degrees F). In this respect, a bakers yeast, such as active dry yeast, will hold up well.

But really, choosing the best distillers yeast comes down to selecting a reputable brand and doing a little bit of research. Figure out which strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can tolerate certain levels of heat and have a decent speed of fermentation. From there, you should be able to find a distillers yeast that will leave behind a clean flavor while providing the adequate amount of alcohol.

Final Thoughts on Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast

Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast_Sound Brewery

Ultimately, the main difference between distillers yeast and bakers yeast is the recipe you use it in. Most bakers yeasts are formulated for breads and other kinds of dense dough. They are designed to release carbon dioxide, forming bubbles and getting bread to rise. Meanwhile, distillers yeast can be used in bread, but the bubbles formed would be too big, and the flavor might not be what you expected. That is because distillers bread is best for spirits like rum, whiskey, and moonshine, but not so much for beer.