Yeast treatment: starting up fermentations the right way

Let’s face it. A lot of our thinking, our energy, our routine is directed at distilling. But what about mashing and fermenting? If your mash is just about perfect, and so is your ferment, wouldn’t distilling be much easier? Less Heads & Tails to deal with?

I think so.

That’s why I want I want to write about yeast treatment. If we treat our yeasts as well as we can, it will perform better during fermentation, giving us a better “base product” to do our distillation run on.

For an inspiring read, please check out this link. It is about wine making, but pretty much everything is applicable to grain ferments as well:

Based on the advise I got from my good friend Big R, as well as on the paper above, I created a “Yeast Treatment Protocol” we can use to improve the quality of our fermentations further. Here is what it looks like. For a 32 liter (8 gallon) wash, yet fully scalable:

1. Measure up 8 gram of dry, granulated yeast;

2. Measure up 10 grams of Wyeast Yeast Nutrition;

3. Measure up 200 mls of tap water;

4. Heat the water to 40 degrees C;

5. Add and stir in the Wyeast Yeast Nutrition;

6. Now add the dry, granulated yeast: spread it on top of the mix you prepared during steps 4 and 5;

7. Let the yeast hydrate for 5 minutes;

8. Now stir in the yeast thoroughly;

9. Give the mixture up to 20 minutes of rest;

10. Now add 100 mls of wash to the mixture;

11. Give the mixture another rest of 20 minutes;

12. Add another 100 mls of wash;

13. Give the mixture another rest of 20 minutes;

14. Now add the mixture to the wash and stir in thoroughly.

This procedure will minimize yeast mortality. It will actually boost vitality. And vital and healthy yeast will help you create a better wine or beer.

Alternative approaches:

Some propose a slightly different approach. When you are not 100% sure of water quality or fear chlorine presence may be too much, first boil the re-hydration water. And adding the yeast supplements after the yeast is mixed in (so after step 8 is finished) may decrease yeast mortality even more.


2 thoughts on “Yeast treatment: starting up fermentations the right way

  1. I have mixed feelings about this post.
    On the dutch beer brew forum, extensive tests have been done on hydrating yeast or not.
    Some even used microscopes to analyze the yeast.
    The outcome: Hydrating does not matter, it gives no advantages.
    My personal experience is the same, even with high gravity beers i did not see any difference.

    But the use of Yeast Nutrition howerver is a good way to improve the fermentation.

    The most important way to improve wash is temperature controlled fermenting, that makes a big difference in esthers and fussels.

  2. I agree with the comment above.
    Also if rehydration is performed it should be done without the wyeast complex.
    High concentrations of salts are detrimental during the rehydration phase.
    Also it appears that the advised temeratures are a bit in the high side. Given the possibility of measuring errors and temerature overshoot, lethal temperatures are easily reached.
    This danstar document reports a temperature between 30-35 centigrade, which seems more appropriate.

    It is a wel known fact in home brewing that rehydration is more easily done wrong, so skipping this practice eliminates errors. 🙂

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