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Anyone who tells you that brewing alcohol isn’t a science is wrong. From measuring everything approximately to using equipment like hydrometers, there is always something to calculate. That includes how much yeast you need to make your alcohol. Do you know how much yeast per gallon of mash is needed? Whether you are making vodka, whiskey, bourbon, or moonshine, the ratio between yeast and mash is essential.
Here is the answer you have been looking for.
Why Do I Need Yeast For Mash?
Yeast is one of the most important ingredients when making alcohol. You might be brewing up a beer or a moonshine—you are going to need yeast either way. Interestingly, you don’t need a lot of yeast to start the fermentation process. Choosing the right type of yeast, as well as how much yeast per gallon of mash you need, undoubtedly causes some confusion.
The first problem people run into is selecting the right kind of yeast. Depending on the type of yeast, you may need more or less of it.
Check out this video that details what supplies you are going to need, including the yeast:
Here are the different kinds of yeast you can use in a mash:
Champagne or Beer Yeast
Most packets of champagne or beer yeast have directions for a 5 gallon mash. If you plan on making 5 gallons of moonshine, for example, you still use 1 packet per 5 gallon mash and no more.
Yes, you can indeed use bread yeast for brewing alcohol. The quality of the alcohol may be a bit different from what you are used to, but the end result will definitely be passable. A single yeast packet contains around 2.25 teaspoons of yeast (about ¼ ounce or 7 grams). You need 2 packets of active dry bread yeast to get 5 gallons of mash fermenting.
It is also recommended that you make a yeast starter when working with bread yeast, as the yeast will already be primed to ferment.
Interestingly, if you are using a corn whiskey or rum mash, bread yeast is the best option. Not only is bread yeast easy enough to procure, it also adds a pleasant flavor to the alcohol once it is done fermenting.
Always follow the directions on the packet of distillers yeast. This kind of yeast is a little stronger than champagne or beer yeast. If your packet does not have directions, use 1 tablespoon of yeast per 5 gallons of mash.
How Much Yeast Per Gallon of Mash?
You may have noticed that the directions on the back of yeast packets answer the question of how much yeast per 5 gallons of mash. What happens if you are making smaller batches of moonshine? Don’t add a whole packet! That will be too much.
If you need yeast for 1 gallon of mash, you will need about 2 to 4 grams of yeast. That is about half of a bread yeast packet.
For champagne or beer yeast, try around ¼ ounce per gallon. The same is true for distillers yeast.
What About Turbo Yeast?
Turbo yeast is a unique strain of yeast that tolerates higher levels of alcohol, up to 24% ABV. Turbo yeast also comes with nutrients blended into the yeast to help it survive. If you plan on brewing up moonshine using turbo yeast, then you are going to need to know how much is required.
This video shows you how to make a mash with turbo yeast:
How Much Turbo Yeast Per Gallon of Mash?
The same rule that you learned for bread yeast or beer yeast applies here. Stick to the ratio of 2 to 4 grams of dry yeast per gallon of mash. Depending on the kind of turbo yeast you pick up, you may want to limit that to around 1.5 to 2 grams.
You can also mix turbo yeast with active bread yeast or distillers yeast. For example, some people recommend using about ¼ of turbo yeast and ¾ active bread yeast to get the ideal level of fermentation and alcohol.
How Much Turbo Yeast Per 5 Gallons of Mash?
According to the directions on a 24-hour turbo yeast package, you need a whole package of turbo yeast for 5 gallons. You also need 4.5 gallons of water, 20 cups (around 10 pounds) of sugar, and for the temperature to be a stable 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. How big is the packet of turbo yeast in question? About 7.23 oz or 205 g.
When in doubt, stick to the ratio of 2 to 4 grams of yeast per gallon of moonshine. Doing so gives you enough yeast to make a boozy beverage. Remember, though, that you can mix yeasts and also use different kinds. Doing so may change the ratio a little, so you may have to experiment a few times before getting the perfect amount of yeast.
Generally, you use 1 packet of yeast for 5 gallons of mash. If you are using active dry yeast, you may need 2 packets to make a starter. Turbo yeast is also the same—one packet per 5-6 gallons of mash.
If you add too much yeast—over 4 grams per gallon—to your mash, you are going to get a few undesired effects. For starters, your moonshine will get a sulfuric smell and taste on some occasions. Most of the time, however, the yeast ferments until it can’t any longer then settles at the bottom of the fermenter. It is very rare that something catastrophic happens, though off-flavored alcohol may be terrifying enough.
You will need about 2 packages of bread yeast for 5 gallons of corn mash. Keep in mind that for every 1 gallon of water, you are using 1 pound of corn and 1 pound of sugar, as well.
In order to make a 5 gallon batch of moonshine mash, you will need 5 pounds of white sugar if using corn. This will yield you 5 gallons of moonshine with 15% ABV.
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