Active Dry Yeast Vs. Brewer’s Yeast – What’s the Difference?

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So did you find a recipe for an amazing bakery product that you want to try and make, but the ingredients require you to use Brewer’s Yeast instead of Active Dry Yeast that you have in your kitchen cabinet? Or are you just a food enthusiast learning about the difference that these two types of Yeast have. Or when, where, how and when to use each one?

In any case, you are at the right place. In this article, we will discuss in detail what Yeast is, the difference between Active Dry Yeast and Brewer’s Yeast, and several other questions that might pop into your head as you read the article. So, without further delay, let’s get right into it.

What actually is Yeast?

Before we get technical and into the details, it would be better to understand the basics of Yeast. Yeasts belong to the Kingdom Fungi. Kingdom is a term used to divide life into smaller groups. Bacteria, animals, and plants are all from different kingdoms!

The fungus used in making both Brewer’s Yeast and Active Dry Yeast is the same, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The difference comes when we use different strains of this fungus to make Yeast. 

Yeast has been known to humankind for a long time. This is because of their historic use in processes involving fermentation, which includes bread, beer, and winemaking. But with the advancement of technology and our increased knowledge about nutrition, yeasts are now being used as food additives, livestock feed, flavoring agents, and high nutritional-value supplements (more on this later).

Brewer’s Yeast 

As mentioned earlier, Brewer’s Yeast is made from the same fungus used to make Active Dry Yeast. But various forms of S. cerevisiae are available and can be used in yeast production. The difference lies in the way that each strain is cultivated. 

Brewer’s Yeast, which may also be called beer yeast, is pretty effective at brewing high-quality beer. The reason is simple: It is slow-rising and produces small bubbles that facilitate fermentation. 

In addition to that, Brewer’s Yeast also contains B vitamins, protein, and the mineral chromium. Chromium may help the body use insulin more efficiently and consequently lower blood glucose levels. Furthermore, Brewer’s Yeast also tends to increase the enzymes in our stomach that may help us relieve diarrhea while improving the body’s natural defense system to fight against viruses that might infect our body.

So, while being used for making beer, Brewer’s Yeast is also used by dieticians in diet therapy to treat health problems like High cholesterol and LDL, flu, diabetes mellitus, and diarrhea. But it would be helpful if you consult your local dietician before taking Brewer’s Yeast to relieve these problems. This is because the scientific evidence for these uses is limited. 

Types of Brewer’s Yeast

Modern brewing names two types of Yeast, namely ale yeast and lager yeast. Both of these yeasts have different characteristics. But the type of Yeast you use depends on what type of beer that you want to make. It is considered best to try various yeasts and then observe which one suits your needs best.

The Four types of Brewer’s Yeasts are:

Ale yeast: this type of Yeast is the ideal choice for making stouts, wheat beer, and porters. Ale yeasts have one common property: Their ideal fermentation temperature is 20 C. 

Belgian Yeast: This Yeast has a distinct fruity flavor with an estery character. And it goes without saying that Belgian Yeast has a high alcohol tolerance as they are used in beer brewing. If you are a fan of Trappist or Abbey beer, this one is a must-have for you. 

Lager yeast: Lager yeast is a bottom fermenting yeast, which means that it settles at the bottom when the fermentation is over. Lager yeast is commonly used to make Lager and pilsner and the fungus strain used is different from the rest, Saccharomyces uvarum. 

Wheat-beer Yeast: Wheat beer yeasts has a recognizable flavor and make the beer cloudy. This is because the Yeast fails to flocculate properly.

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry Yeast a different yeast type used to bake cakes, bread, and pastries. Upon mixing with sugar, Active Dry Yeast produces carbon dioxide and ensures that the dough rises. Active dry or baker’s Yeast is considered to be the main leavening agent used in bread production. 

Active Dry Yeast is different from other Baker’s Yeast because it is partially dehydrated. This is usually done to make the shelf life of the Dry Yeast longer, as microorganisms need moisture to survive and eliminating moisture can inhibit their growth. But yeasts have an expiry date, so if your dough hasn’t been rising lately, then you might need to check the expiry date of your Active dry Yeast. 

So what’s the difference?

Active dry Yeast is different from brewer’s Yeast as it gives a wheaty/nutty flavor to the food that you add it to. But the key difference is seen in their byproducts. The brewer’s Yeast produces both Carbon dioxide and alcohol in large amounts, while the baker’s Yeast (including Active Dry Yeast) mainly produces carbon dioxide with a tiny amount of alcohol. 

The small amount of alcohol made by the Active Dry Yeast is usually evaporated during baking in bread. Another difference between the two is the environment in which both types of yeasts function. The Brewer’s Yeast must be given an environment where it can thrive easily and produce the desired amount of alcohol. 

Meanwhile, Baker’s Yeast feeds off the starch present in flour to produce carbon dioxide, which then raises the dough without giving off any ethanol. So, in conclusion, Baker’s Yeast is used for baking and brewer’s Yeast is used in brewing. 

Can we use Active Dry Yeast instead of Brewer’s Yeast?

The short answer is yes. Swapping Active Dry Yeast with Brewer’s Yeast is fine as long as you can endure the bitter and harsh flavor of Brewer’s Yeast in your bread. And the beer made with Active Dry Yeast might not have the strong, zesty, and distinct flavor you usually get.