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May 28, 2007 05:34 PM

Home brewers, help! I killed my beer yeast--now what?

Oh boy...rookie mistake

I don't know what I was thinking, but I burned/killed my brewer's yeast and don't have an extra packet! Of course, the beer supply store is also closed today so I'm *$#@!ed.

Can I substitute an equal amount (2.25 tsp?) of rehydrated brewer's yeast? I can get that at a health food store, but will it work?

I know I can't use regular active dry yeast for bread without getting a lot of yeast flavor, but will brewer's yeast suffice? I realize it won't give me all the same flavors the specialized yeast would, but I'm just looking for a decently fermented first time beer at this point.

Alternatively, should I refrigerate the wort, heat it back up to 75 degrees tomorrow, and pitch the yeast after I pick some up tomorrow?

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  1. Cool it slowly overnight and pitch the yeast as soon as you can. I'm cooling a german pale lager right now and I will pitch in the morning.

    8 Replies
    1. re: niquejim

      Thank you!

      The internets answered my question. Brewer's yeast (nutritional yeast) is not the same as brewer's yeast (beer yeast) in that it will not foam when put in warm water. So no, not good for beer. I'll pitch the yeast tomorrow.

      1. re: Pei

        I was looking through past postings when I found this post. Personally, I've never heard of bakers yeast not foaming in warm water. if the yeast is alive it should foam. I make a sponge for bread and part of that process is adding yeast to warm water. If it foams, it is alive and a good yeast. If it does not foam after a few minutes, then discard the yeast and begin again with good fresh yeast. I also do this procedure for my homemade wines and beers with brewers yeast.

        1. re: foodheretic

          Number one - baker's yeast will probably not make the best beer. It'll work but I wouldn't bother.
          Number two - what he was talking about was brewer's yeast sold in grocery stores as a nutritional supplement. As far as I know this is essentially dead yeast. So, it wouldn't work for beer.

          1. re: bolivar13

            I wouldn't use it for brewing, but I assume brewer's yeast from a grocery store is active (once it's inside you, at least), since AFAIK that is the whole point of brewer's yeast, to produce B vitamins as a byproduct of fermentation in the gut.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              The nutritional "Brewer's Yeast" is (according to Red Star's website): "... a dried, inactive yeast that has no fermenting power. "

              Early US homebrewing articles and books (especially before legalization in the 1970's when it was difficult to find ingredients in some regions of the country) often cautioned readers not to confuse "beer yeast" with the food supplement "brewer's yeast", IIRC.

              1. re: JessKidden

                If that's the case, I wonder what the whole point is of taking nutritional yeast?

                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                  Well, this site ( quoting Rodale) says "The live cells in brewer’s yeast are also destroyed during the brewing process, but the dead cells still have nutrient value. " I think the point is to add the vitamins, minerals, etc., to one's diet rather than create internal fermentation (which in most cases is closer to a medical problem than a solution <g> ).

                  1. re: JessKidden

                    Yes, there is that issue of expulsion of excess CO2, heh.

    2. Secure the wort in a sanitized container and you should be ok. Wort is wort today or next week, as long as it's container is "bug" free. If everything has been properly sanitized, yeast pitching shouldn't be a problem if it takes place the same day as wort making or a few days after.
      I would seal up the wort in a sanitized container and the pitch the appropriate beer yeast when it becomes available. Keep in mind that wort is really only sugar water for yeast to eat. If the wort is sanitary, the yeast will like it and produce good beer.

      5 Replies
      1. re: HeBrew

        Thank you! The store actually doesn't even open on Tuesdays, so I have to wait til tomorrow. So let me ask:

        I boiled the wort Monday afternoon. I cooled it in a cold water bath to about 75 degrees, at which point I realized I'd killed the yeast. I left the lid on it, moved it into a closet, and it will sit there around 70-75 degrees until Wednesday noonish at which point I'll pour it into a sanitized container with clean water, and pitch the yeast.

        I should be okay, right? Or should I boil the wort again?

        1. re: Pei

          If you have a fridge to put it in I would do so, then pitch cool and let it slowly come up in temp. Also try this site It is the best I've found for homebrew questions.

          1. re: niquejim

            Pei, to be honest you've moved into an area beyond my expertise. My best guess is to make a big batch of yeast using a starter and try another round at fermentation. I think (think being the prime word here) that if everything is sanitized then you may have a stuck fermentation and a better yeast pitch is needed. The American Homebrewers Association has lots of folks that can lend assistance.

          2. re: Pei

            Pei, relax have a homebrew, your wort will be fine, I have let wort sit for nearly a week before adding yeast and it was fine. The temps you mentioned 75 degrees is perfect for yeast.

            1. re: ozbuc

              Hate to disagree but 75 is tooooo warm to pitch the yeast. Fermentation will raise the temp 6-8 degrees above ambient temps so unless you're brewing a saison you're going to get a lot of funky off flavors that high. It is always better to start lower than your desired temp and let it slowly come up.

        2. REPORTING BACK: based on some replies here and what the Culver City Brewing Supply people told me, I left the wort in the fridge for almost two days, added enough warm water to bring it up to 75 degrees, pitched the yeast, and put it away.

          A few hours later, I could see the indicator bubbling away, and today it's bubbling quite steadily. So I know the fermenting's occuring. So far so good! The closet smells kind of funny and sweet, but it's already a different smell from when I closed it yesterday.

          In anticipation of weather warming up here in LA, I've also put a few of those plastic blocks filled with blue liquid in the closet. With the door closed, it doesn't get above 75 in there, and usually a few degrees below that.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Pei

            Listen to those CCHB guys the KNOW what they're talking about! BTW, There's nothing really harmful about bringing the cooled wort back up to boil a day later if you're really worried about contamination and then recooling it to pitch.

            (Fair disclosure, I'm a Pacific Gravity member who used to spend way to much time and money at CCHBS before I had a baby...)

              1. re: niquejim

                Thanks for the advice. I'm trying to keep it below 75. The closet is about 72-74, but I figure what's done is done this time. There will be much brewing in the future if this is successful, so I can try a lower temperature next time!

              2. re: Pei

                I hope you don't have clothes in that closet! Just learned that lesson the hard way when my beer exploded all over my clothes! My first explosion, all over my clothes. But the beer survived - most importantly.

                1. re: oaklandfoodie

                  I would be curious as to how you exploded a batch of beer in your closet,

                  In 38 years of homebrewing I've never had a batch even overflow to any great extent, let alone explode! Were you ever able to figure out "wha hoppend"?

                  Of course, I have now jinxed myself completely. I promise that will report back when necessary to eat my words regarding a beer explosion.

                  1. re: The Professor

                    I've had beer explode, though not to the extent that oaklandfoodie describes. We were doing a top fermenting beer that the store had warned us was extremely active. We set up a blow off tube and everything, and I double wrapped the entire contraption in trash bags just in case.

                    So we invited some friends over for dinner, and haflway through we heard BOOM! The stopper had exploded off and excess foam had poured all over the inside of aforementioned trash bags. We put the stopper back, but it happened again in the same night.

                    Thank goodness for double wrapped trash bags.

              3. If anyone's still reading...I was so excited I put my wort on youtube!


                Is that amount of bubbling normal, fast, or slow for the first day? (It's about a 7 second clip, in case you're wondering whether to click on it). Thanks all! I feel much better about the beer now that it's bubbling away.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Pei

                  You should be fine. It's fun to see it come to life after the yeast starts.
                  The first several batches I made I had no way to control the temp and the beer was good , but once I found an old chest freezer and hooked it up to a timer to keep it at about 60f they got significantly better.

                  1. re: niquejim

                    looks like good fermenting to me! now relax and have a homebrew