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Yeast is a crucial part of being able to make many of your favorite things. Most people understand that yeast is used to make bread and many types of pastries.

It’s also going to be crucial to get the right yeast when you’re making beer or different types of ale. Not everyone knows that you use different yeast for different purposes, though.

There are types of yeast that have been cultivated to be used in baking and types that are used for brewing beer. Brewer’s yeast and baking yeast could technically be used to do other things than what they’re intended for, but they’re still quite different from each other.

It’s going to be important to understand the differences between baking yeast and brewer’s yeast. They aren’t meant to be used interchangeably even though they might seem almost the same in many ways.

Keep reading to learn about brewer’s yeast and baking yeast so that you can understand their properties better. Digging into the details when it comes to brewer’s yeast versus baking yeast will give you a much better perspective.

Understanding Yeast

Having a better understanding of yeast might help you to learn more about both baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. Yeast is a type of fungus that can be found just about everywhere in the world.

Yeast can live in trees, plants, the soil, and even inside the stomachs of humans and animals. It’s an incredibly common single-celled form of life.

Since it’s an asexual form of life, it’s going to be able to keep reproducing itself so long as it has the right conditions to survive. Yeast can keep reproducing very fast under the right circumstances, too.

That’s all very intriguing in its own right, but people are mostly concerned with what yeast can do. Yeast activities are going to leave behind both CO2 and alcohol.

Someone who is brewing beer is going to need yeast to make use of both the CO2 and the alcohol. Bakers will be more interested in just the CO2 since they need it to bake things such as bread.

How Yeast Works When Making Bread

Yeast is a crucial part of the bread-making process. It simply wouldn’t be possible to make bread like normal if you didn’t have yeast.

When baking bread, yeast acts as a leavening agent. This means that it helps the bread to rise by filling it with pockets of CO2.

The CO2 can feed on the starch and sugars inside of the bread. This ensures that the CO2 gets to the right places and causes the bread to rise as it should.

The baking process ensures that the CO2 and alcohol that is released during the yeast activities will be baked out. Both the alcohol and the CO2 disappear after the bread has finished baking.

You should know that the air pockets created by the CO2 are important for ensuring that the bread is tasty. It helps to make the bread soft and easy for people to enjoy.

Baking yeast is used to bake bread like this and the specific name of the yeast that bakers use is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is the same name as the yeast that is used for brewing beer, but it’s actually a different strain that has some unique properties.

The yeast that is used to bake bread has been cultivated in such a way that it is perfect for baking. Bakers can choose to use other types of yeast when baking bread, of course, but this is just the most common type of baking yeast.

One of the reasons why it’s best to use baking yeast when baking bread is that it’s been cultivated with the CO2 process at the forefront. The CO2 is what matters when you’re baking bread whereas other types of yeast could be more balanced to also focus on the alcohol.

Other Types of Baking Yeast

There are actually a large number of different yeast types that bakers will utilize depending on what they want to bake. You can find cake yeast, instant yeast, active dry yeast, and sourdough options.

Sourdough is a lot different than baking normal bread because sourdough relies on wild yeast to get things done. Certain types of baking yeast will need to be activated first or it won’t do what it needs to do.

Activating yeast is fairly simple and it involves placing yeast in warm water and sugar for approximately 10 minutes. Instant yeast is simpler because you can just use it straight away.

If you’re baking something, then you’re going to have many different varieties of yeast to choose from. Some are better for certain purposes, but you should be able to find an appropriate type of yeast for whatever it is that you’re doing.

When you’re looking up specific recipes for baking bread or something else, it might even recommend a specific type of yeast to you. If the recipe notes to use a specific type of yeast, then you should try to follow the recipe to get things to turn out as intended.

Could Baking Yeast Be Used for Beer?

Technically, you could use baking yeast to make beer if you really want to. It just might not do as good of a job as brewer’s yeast would.

This is specifically because baking yeast is created with the CO2 process in mind. That means that the alcohol that is produced might not be exactly what a brewer would want.

However, it’s worth noting that many people get fine results when using baking yeast to make beer. It isn’t unheard of or anything like that.

If you were really desperate to brew some beer at home, then you could try to do so using baking yeast. The process would likely go okay, and you’d get beer that would be fine to drink so long as you know what you’re doing.

Regardless, it’s going to be better to stick to using a yeast strain that is meant for brewing beer. It has the right properties and will be able to work for you predictably while baking yeast might not do exactly what you expect.

The beer made with baking yeast might not be perfect compared to something made with brewer’s yeast. It also might not be possible to expect it to make a recipe that you’re following turn out exactly the same as what you’re used to.

How Yeast Works When Making Beer

As you might expect, yeast works when making beer by ensuring that alcohol is added to the mix. The yeast is directly responsible for making beer an alcoholic beverage.

The act of making beer is about creating an environment where the yeast is going to be able to thrive and do what it does best. Brewers ensure that the right amount of sugar has been added and that the water has been tested while getting the temperature settings just right for the beer.

These conditions will help the yeast to multiple over and over again so that it can keep creating CO2. The CO2 is going to get vented and the alcohol content is going to stay in the beer.

It’s actually a very interesting process, and many people have started brewing beer at home as a pastime. Professionals might do special things such as adding oxygen to the mix to try to encourage the yeast reproduction process to go even faster.

To get the beer to turn out right, it’s essential to have the yeast process be as predictable as it can. You need to have an understanding of what’s going on as well as what part of the process you’re in at any given time.

People use brewer’s yeast to make the beer because it gives them the best chance to get things right. It’s easy to predict what will happen when you’re using brewer’s yeast that has been specifically formulated for making beer.

Only an amateur brewer would choose to use baking yeast after putting in all of the work to get the other ingredients just right. You might wind up having everything turn out bad or kind of off if you use a type of yeast that isn’t properly suited to this process.

However, some amateurs have made beer with baking yeast and enjoyed it. It’s just not the best thing to use, and it’s certainly not what professionals would use.

Experimenting with Yeast as a Brewer

As mentioned above, there are amateur brewers out there who will try new things. A lot of this is done just because experimenting with different yeast types can be interesting and informative.

Even professionals will play around with the formula now and then to see if they can come up with anything interesting. This is kind of how new types of beer get made because they decide to stray from the recipes that they already know and love.

Yes, part of finding new beers will just involve using different ingredients and changing up the process slightly. But it’s still possible that some people might also experiment with different yeast types to see what they can come up with.

Do you need to experiment with baking yeast while brewing beer to make discoveries? No, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t if you want to.

There have been a large number of amateur brewers who have tried some unusual things with yeast and gotten some intriguing results. Perhaps you’d like to try your luck, and there’s no harm in doing so if you keep your expectations low.

You can’t assume that brewer’s yeast and baking yeast will perform similarly because there will likely be many differences. These two types of yeast might be similar in many ways, but the small differences between the two really do make a world of difference.

Final Thoughts

The big difference between brewer’s yeast and baking yeast has to do with how they were formulated. Brewing beer is a process that requires a lot of CO2, but it also needs to focus on putting the alcohol into the beer.

Baking bread is completely different because the alcohol is not what is being focused on at all. Bakers only care about the ability to produce CO2 so that the bread will rise while also being made to be as soft and pleasant to eat as possible.

Now that you have a better understanding of what baking yeast and brewer’s yeast are meant to do, it should be evident why people need to choose one over the other depending on what they’re doing.

Simply put, baker’s yeast isn’t going to work as well as brewer’s yeast when it comes to making beer. Likewise, brewer’s yeast might not produce optimal results if you decide to try to use it to bake some bread.

Granted, it’s possible to use the yeast and still have something turn out reasonably okay, but it could also turn out kind of wrong because of certain unpredictable elements. When you’re working with yeast, it’s going to be better to be able to predict what’s going to happen so that you can time things right.

There are many types of yeast out there and there’s a lot more to consider than just baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. You can find cake yeast, instant yeast, and then there’s the difference between the sourdough process and baking standard types of bread.

The topic of yeast and how it is used to make food and beverages can be fascinating. It’s a nuanced topic with a lot of different things to consider, but you should now understand the important things that you need to know about baking yeast versus brewer’s yeast.

When you go to make bread sometime soon, it’s going to be wise to ensure that you’re using baking yeast. If you order one of those popular at-home beer brewing kits, then you’ll likely be using standard brewer’s yeast.

Enjoy your time baking bread and brewing beer and ensure that you use the right type of yeast. You will get better results that way and you’ll be more likely to wind up with something that’s tasty.

Author

I have a bachelor's degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I'm home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.

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