There are two types of yeast that home brewers use when fermenting their beer. You have dry and liquid yeast available. We’ll cover both types and how to use them.
Dry yeast can be sprinkled right into the cooled wort if you want. You do not need to rehydrate, but some people still like to get the yeast going before they pitch it. This is what you need to do if you plan on rehydrating it:
- Add 1 cup of 80° F water to sanitized container.
- Add 1 package of dry yeast to the water.
- Stir the water and yeast mixture for 30 seconds. Do not stir vigorously.
- Let the yeast sit for 15 – 30 minutes until you notice a light foam forming on top of the liquid.
- Pitch (add) the yeast to your fermenter.
Liquid yeast can be added directly to the wort once the wort cools to a temperature below 80° F. You may decide to do a yeast starter, which is recommended for high gravity/alcohol beers. Read our Making a Yeast Starter article for more info. Here is how you prep an Activator pack:
- To activate, locate and move inner packet to a corner. Place this area in palm of one hand and firmly smack package with the other hand to break inner nutrient packet. Confirm inner packet is broken.
- Shake the package well to release the nutrients.
- Allow package to incubate and swell for three hours or more at 70-75°F (21-24°C).
- Use sanitizing solution to sanitize the package before opening.
- Pitch into your wort or yeast starter that has been cooled to below 80°
- Signs of fermentation should be evident within 24 hours, depending on yeast strain, brewing procedures and fermentation temperatures.
Note: Do not panic if you pack does not swell. Sometimes the inner pouch can be difficult to break. Just cut off the top and pitch into your wort. It takes a lot to kill yeast, so try the pack anyway. 99% of the time everything will turn out just fine.Note: Yeast can take 24 – 72 hours to show signs of fermentation. Give the yeast time to work before you start becoming concerned. If after 72 hours and no signs of fermentation, add dry yeast. If you are not sure if the yeast has worked or not; take a hydrometer reading, or taste the beer. If it is very sweet, the yeast has not worked. Dry yeast may start in a couple hours, but it can ferment a beer in less than 12 hours.
If you are not sure about the viability of your yeast then make a starter first. This will give you the opportunity to ensure that the yeast is working before you pitch it into your wort. Even if there are only two yeast cells left, that is all you need to ferment a beer.