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Gluten Free Home Brewing Blog
Yeast Must Knows For Brewing Gluten Free Beer
First thing first, if you are brewing gluten free beer, you will need to use dry yeast. Liquid yeasts are cultured in a medium made partially from barley and will contaminate your beer. Dry yeast is cultivated on beet sugar, cane sugar or molasses and can be pitched directly to the carboy. If you make a yeast starter, it must also be made gluten free too.1
Although there are fewer available varieties of dry yeast, there are quite a few more varieties than just a few years ago. Fermentis and Lallemand have introduced a few more dry yeast options, and with the emergence of Mangrove Jack’s in recent years, there are now many more dry yeast options for the gluten free beer brewer. There are some advantages to dry yeast too. Dry yeast is generally much lower cost than liquid yeast. Dry yeast keeps for longer, staying fresh for up to two years in a refrigerator. And if you are buying your dry yeast online, it is less susceptible to temperature changes during transit.
Dry Pitch vs Rehydrating Dry Yeast: A packet of dry yeast contains anywhere from 200 to 300 billion yeast cells, compared to liquid yeast which contains about 100 billion yeast cells. However, when you pitch dry yeast directly into the wort, that cell count goes down by up to half. Therefore, you may want to consider rehydrating dry yeast before you pitch it. Using a rate of 100 ml of lukewarm water per 10 grams of yeast, pitch the yeast into the water, give it a gentle stir, cover and then let stand for about 20 minutes before pitching into the wort. (Rehydration instructions may vary by manufacturer and/or yeast; please review manufacturer's rehydration instructions for the specific yeast you are using.)
Here is a short video from the American Homebrewers Association on how to rehydrate dry yeast.
Dry Yeast Health: The other advantage of rehydrating your dry yeast before pitching it into the wort is to determine the yeast health. When dry yeast is added to the rate of lukewarm water described above, after about 3 to 5 minutes the yeast will have absorbed enough water that it will begin to rise to the surface. After between 10 and 20 minutes, the yeast will produce a foamy layer on the surface of the water. This reaction will only occur if the yeast is healthy.
Dry Yeast Selection By Beer Style: This past month, GFHB has posted a series of blogs suggesting dry yeast by beer style as recommended by each manufacture. Fermentis, Lallemand and Mangrove Jack’s have each published a free PDF guide to select an appropriate dry yeast for the style of beer you are brewing. The PDF guides also contain lots of detailed information about each manufacture’s entire yeast lineup.
Review suggested Fermentis dry yeast by beer style and download the PDF
Review suggested Lallemand dry yeast by beer style and download the PDF
Review suggested Mangrove Jack’s dry yeast by beer style and download the PDF
High Gravity Dry Yeast: Most beers we brew are in the 5-6% range, while many can be in the 7-8% range. However, it is becoming more common to brew beer above 8%, with some hitting double digits! But can your dry yeast selection withstand the high alcohol environment during fermentation? Most strains of yeast have an alcohol tolerance of about 8%. Therefore, if you are planning to brew a Wee Heavy, Imperial IPA or Belgian Golden Strong Ale, you will want to make sure to select an appropriate yeast strain. Fermentis, Lallemand and Mangrove Jack’s each offer dry yeast that can be used for high gravity brewing.
Yeast Nutrient: We have blogged about our observations about brewing with and without using yeast nutrient, but we have not yet conducted any tests to compare the two. However, we would like to share the following excerpt from Lallemand’s Brewing Catalog:
…The two main requirements for consistent, predictable fermentations are healthy yeast and a nutrient balanced wort. It is generally recognized that only wort produced from a well modified, all malt grist approaches these needs, and even this requires supplementation with oxygen and zinc. The common practice of high gravity, adjunct brewing has introduced two fermentation problems: nutrient deficiency and conditions of high stress for yeast. Yeast generated under these difficult conditions typically show symptoms of reduced vigour, which can be compounded at each regeneration. Problems associated with reduced vigour include slow or sticking fermentation, off-flavours associated with Sulphur containing compounds, slow diacetyl reduction, and autolysis.
Furthermore, it is believed that the nutrients produced in a gluten free all malt grist has less of the essential nutrients required for proper fermentation as compared to a comparable conventional all malt grist.