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Demystifying Yeast

We did a Brew Talk on the yeasts we use to try to clear up a bit of confusion. We are often asked, “When should I add yeast? What yeast should I use? I followed your recipe exactly but used this completely different yeast instead. Why is my brew different than yours?” These are all good questions, but often challenging to answer properly without going far into the deep reaches of yeastdom and often frightening folks along the way.

Before you get lost in the all the marketing hype, take a quick peek at the chart below. Do you see the row listed “species?” Do you see that they all are the same, even the bread yeast? I hope that light bulb moment happened for you just then. You know, the “ah-ha” moment. I know that “they” keep telling you that you can’t brew with bread yeast, while we (and a few others) keep telling you that you can. Well that is why. All yeasts are essentially the same beastie.

So why are there so many different types of yeasts? Another good question. If we investigate the chart further, we see some of the rows have different information. Important things for brewing such as Alcohol Tolerance and Fermentation temperature range. This information is key to your yeast selection. Are you looking for a higher ABV brew? If so then Safale S04 most likely isn’t the right choice for you. Is your fermentation area a bit on the warm side? Then K1V-1116 might work best. All the different variables come into play when selecting a yeast, and knowing what you are aiming for in your brew is a great starting point in selection.

This entry was posted in Blog, Brewing.


  1. Steve Fortin May 4, 2020 at 1:50 am #

    Thanks for your hard work lady.
    I’m just getting into this and I’m devoted to you guys.

    • brerica May 7, 2020 at 4:35 pm #

      Aww, thanks!

    • Dominic Pacitti December 12, 2020 at 3:00 pm #

      I am just starting now (Dec. 2020) and I agree. This article and the video that goes with it helped a lot! Great videos!

      • brerica December 12, 2020 at 3:15 pm #

        So glad to help! Happy brewing. 🙂

  2. Matt Hammes June 7, 2020 at 1:32 am #

    Derica and Brian, I started making my mead and a grape juice wine. Following your recipe, On April 24th. I used lavin d47. It has been really slow. My basement where I’ve been fermenting is about 63-65. Which I thought was ideal for this yeast. But I feel like it is struggling because of Cold. I have moved the brews into a plastic tub and placed a heating pad under the tub on low. The internal mead temperature is 72. They seem to do better but everything that I’m brewing seems to going slow. I know if I turn up the heating pad the brews get more active. Medium on the heating pad get the internal brew temp to about 92. I have heard that d47 produces off flavors when it is over 70. Is that true? The grape juice wine is at 1.084 now and started out at 1.110. The mead is doing better but still not done yet. Started at 1.120 and is now 1.020. It has been dropping almost .010 every week. Is that normal for d47? I have other brews that Moving slow. Which yeast should look for in cold temperatures?
    Thank you and love your videos.

    • brerica June 8, 2020 at 1:55 pm #

      We have had some inconsistencies with D47. You might be experiencing the same thing. Introducing a bit of heat does tend to speed up yeast activity, but a fast fermentation isn’t necessarily a good fermentation. I don’t have any personal experience with off flavors being produced at higher temperatures, but I have read that it is a possibility. I wouldn’t suggest heating brews to 92 degrees. The 70 range should be fine. We are in Florida and therefor don’t have experience with yeast in cold climates.

  3. Charles October 3, 2020 at 9:21 pm #

    Hey Food Friends!

    If I want to make a lower ABV sweet Fruit wine or mead…<10% preferable…. what yeast would you recommend!?
    Thanks for the advice! I have been enjoying binge-watching you on youtube!

    • brerica October 5, 2020 at 1:36 pm #

      We have used Safale S04 many times before for the lower ABV beverages with great success. You still have a chance that it will go higher because those silly yeasts have yet to learn to read. 😉

  4. Damon December 9, 2020 at 10:41 pm #

    Thank you for compiling this resource, Derica. I’ve been binge consuming your YouTube content for the last few weeks in preparation for my first four 1gallon batches of mead. I think I’m getting a hang of the relationship between the honey, yeast, and ABV with sweet brews. It’s clear to me that these are your preference and that may explain little to no attention paid to brewing a dry mead (my palate preference) in any of your videos I’ve seen thus far. My question: to make a mouth puckering dry mead do I simply add just enough sugar to reach my yeast’s low-end alcohol potential, thus ensuring a smaller sweet profile at FG? Thanks for all you do. Keep up the great wort. (See what I did there?)

    • brerica December 10, 2020 at 9:48 pm #

      Yes, you got the concept down right. Once your yeasts have consumed all the sugars you will have a lovely dry mead. You can then take a taste test to see if it is where you like it or if you wish to add a touch of sweetness. Remember if you do decide to add a touch of sweetness (add some more honey or other fermentable sugar) you will want to recheck your ABV because the yeasts could eat that up as well. Happy brewing!

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