Which Yeast to Use in Fermentations

Ted recommends
    I have a yeast that can ferment to 17% with greater than 80% attenuation in less than 4 days at 75 degrees F. It has a slight H2SO4 nose to it but it clears bright in 2 days and then you can't smell the H2SO4. Esters and phenols are slight to none. No breadiness, sour or vegemite aromas from the yeast that has been stored for 2 weeks and its viability is 94% after 34 generations. This yeast is a work horse! www.whitelabs.com - California Ale Yeast This isn't the only one out there that is fantastic either.
Jack recommends ...
    Types of Yeast
    The yeast selection pretty much depends on what you are making -
    • For whiskey (corn or malt) the best bet is a dry ale yeast - Doric brnad ale is my favorite (ask your homebrew shop owner what his most attenuative, alcohol tolerant dry ale yeast is and use that).
    • For wine and mead the best choice is Lalvin's K1V-1116 - it has a 16% alcohol tolerance and is very fast (it also has the ability to fight off bacterial contamination).
    • For plain sugar mashes (to be made into vodka) the best bet is Lalvin's EC-1118 - it has an 18% alcohol tolerance and is faster than the K1V-1116 - but it tends to result in a stale, brackish flavor in the wine and the distillate - making it a bad choice for a wine yeast (by overpitching this yeast - 100grams in 20 liters and about 100 grams of yeast nutrient with 6-8 kilos of sugar you can make your own Turbo- style yeast) - carbon polishing will take care of the stale taste from this yeast- making it a good vodka yeast.
    • For making rum out of molasses I like to use plain old bread yeast- it has a nice flavor when it's distilled, and while it's fermenting the house smells like cookies.
    • NEVER use Montrachet yeast. I have had many recipes for wine taste horrible becuase this yeast was what the recipe said to use- it always ended up tasting (reeking) of sulfur- even when no sulfite was used to make the wine. The sulfur smell it makes is more than capable of carrying over into the distilled product (rotten egg schnaps was not what I was trying for). If you find a recipe that uses this yeast- use the K1V-1116 instead. I later found out that Montrachet was prone (genetically) to producing hydrogen sulfide gas, hence the sulfur taste/smell whenever I used this yeast. Avoid it at all costs.
Ken recommends ..."SAF-DISTIL.B-28" from D.C.L.Yeast

For more on EC-1118 see http://consumer.lallemand.com/.

See also http://www.hambletonbard.com.

A new White Labs strain WLP099 claims to do up to 25% EtOH : http://www.whitelabs.com/

Donald advises ...
    Distillers' yeast is now sold in slurry form in the major homebrewer's yeast banks. Unless you are making neutral spirits, do not use a distiller's "fuel yeast". The Tennessee whisky yeast, Highland Scotish yeast, Fruit Brandy/Eau de Vie yeast, ect. all add extra oganoliptics that fuel yeast cannot.

    Ryzopus derived Ryzozyme (Alltech Biotechnology) is a "cold mash" koji (not aspergillis as used in Sake) now for sale from Alltech, Inc. Ryzozyme step converts starch to sugar at room temp. I achieved a yield of 23.6% alcohol (yes that's right) in 40 hours with 100% corn mash this fall at the Alltech Alcohol School. (1 week for $950.00 US$). The entire Alltech Biotechnology line is sold through Crosby & Baker in the USA. Alltech, Inc. products are sold world wide, so check the web. if your local suppliers don't carry this yet. They also have great distillers yeast, yeast nutrient and other biotech fermentation supplies. The brave new worlds' bright side is here at last !
Patrick writes ..
    For those of you not using turbos in the US. Check out this site, you can purchase 500g packets of wine yeast at HUGE discount! There is a Red Star yeast, same strain as Lalvin EC-1118 for $8.95 US for 500g! Thats just over a pound! Presque Isle Wine Supplies http://www.piwine.com.
M writes ...
    I recently purchased a pound of "SuperStart" Distillers Yeast by Alltech from Crosby & Baker. (http://www.crosby-baker.com) According to the spec. sheet the optimal fermentation temperature is 90F +/-2F. So for those of you in hotter climates this may be just the ticket. Also, Seth from C&B reported that it is very possible to get a 21-22% yield from this yeast.Pricewise - 1lb. - $3.15 US (label states that 1/2lb will ferment 1000gal.
Baker writes about Red Star Ethanol Red (ER) :
    From the product sheet ...Ethanol Red is a specially selected strain of saccharomyces Cerevisiae that has been developed for the Fuel Alcohol Industry. ER is a fast acting, temperature tolerant dry yeast that displays higher alcohol yields and maintains higher cell viability during fermentation as compared with standard distiller's yeast. Designed for producing alcohol at elevated temperatures, ER is capable of maximizing alcohol yields under a wide range of temperatures. Yields of 48g ethanol/ 100g sugar at 35C have been reported. Lower cooling costs, higher ethanol levels, and increased fermenter through put can be expected using ER. Industrial fermentation for the production of fuel alcohol from grain mashes is the primary application for this strain. this strain performs well for the production of ethanol from a variety of carbohydrate sources including molasses, citrus pulp and corn syrup. Pitching levels between 25 - 50 g per hectoliter will give an initial yeast density of approximately 5 - 10 million yeast cells per mL. Prior to inoculation, yeast should be rehydrated in 4 -5 times its weight in clean 40 C water.

    [in comparison ..] Alltech SuperStart is a superstarter, but rapidly peters out. It performs better with a protease to provide FAN, but even with a protease does not perform as well as Red Star without. Red Star performs equally well with or without a protease except in a milo mash where adding the protease improves its performance.
Mike cautions though ...
    Just an aside for "newbies", please don't get the idea that some yeasts produce more alcohol from a given amount of sugar than others. The "higher alcohol yield" bit refers to the tolerance of this yeast to alcohol during fermentation. For example, the strains of yeast used by bakers cannot tolerate concentrations of alcohol higher than around 8%, so any sugar left in the wash once this level is reached remains unfermented. Other strains are more tolerant to the alcohol they produce, and are therefore more efficient if the aim is to process as much sugar as you can in the shortest possible time ... which is what cost-effective production of fuel alcohol is all about. The downside for us, trying to produce potable alcohol, is that the hotter (and faster) the fermentation, and the higher the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, the more likely it is that other compounds will be produced with the ethanol, so we will have more heads and tails to deal with. For example, the new "24 hour" turbos perform as claimed (stand well back!), but the downside is that the concentration of ethyl acetate is very much higher than their slower cousins. In their defence, they are much "cleaner" than the Zippo yeasts favored by the Fuel Industry which, to be fair, is not concerned about how the product tastes so long as it burns well.

You can make your own Turbo yeasts. Jack wrote ..
    Use large amounts of the wine yeasts called "prisse de mousse" (by the Red Star company), or EC-1118 (by the Lavlin company) - these are the yeasts used in the Turbo yeast packs- you just need to buy 100 grams (4 ounces) of it and pitch it all at once to get the turbo yeast performance (this also requires 100 grams of citric acid and about 100grams of yeast nutrient). Both these yeasts are common winemaking yeasts in the U.S
Mike adds ...
    It is very easy to stretch a turbo (or any yeast, for that matter), but the process is a tradeoff - more work and time spent.

    The procedure is similar to that spelled out as "the Cone Protocol" in The Compleat Distiller - you manage the stresses that the yeast sees during the ferment.

    What are those stresses? Osmotic potential (sugar concentration), temperature and alcohol concentration. One of the reasons that turbo yeast packets contain so much yeast is that up to 80% of the yeast cells are killed or severely damaged when they are put into the wash - too high a sugar concentration and too low a temperature slow down the entry of water into the cells and allow a lot of damage to occur. Lowering the initial sugar concentration allows a lot more of these cells to survive, meaning that they can do more work.

    Temperature - the active and rapid fermentation produces a lot of heat. Gert has published tables of yeast viability by temperature and alcohol concentration, and the higher the alcohol concentration, the lower the temperature that will kill them off. Lowering the initial sugar concentration will reduce the heat production and temperature rise in the wash. External temperature control is also very useful for extending a turbo.

    Alcohol concentration - Alcohol is a yeast waste product. The more of it that is present, the harder is is for yeast to produce more, and the more stressed the yeast is, making them even more sensitive to osmotic and temperature effects. Sugar should be added in decreasing amounts throughout the fermentation as the alcohol concentration rises.

    WARNING!! Active ferments are supersaturated with CO2!! If you just dump in some more sugar, you will see foam like you could not believe, and will lose several liters of wash to the surrounding environment. When you add sugar, begin stirring the wash, and trickle a spoonful of sugar into it. It will foam semi-violently, but will not overflow. Repeat a few times until it quits foaming when you add a little sugar. Now you can add it more rapidly.

    Here is one way to stretch a turbo (based on the "20%" regular speed turbos out there). This method takes two weeks to complete. It is designed to completely use a standard (American) 25 pound sack of sugar. The Final volume is 8 US gallons instead of 25 liters. Pour 13 pounds of the sugar into the fermenter, and make up to just under seven gallons with warm water to end up at 30 deg C. Stir to make sure the sugar is all dissolved, then stir in the turbo and vigorously stir for a couple of minutes. You probably want the fermenter set into a tub of water to avoid a sharp temperature rise when fermentation takes off. (This is for two reasons - one to preserve the yeast, second, because a cooler fermentation is a cleaner one!) Control the temperature of the water jacket to about 18 deg C.

    Float a hydrometer in the wash. Intial reading will be about 1.080. When it has dropped to about 1.010 - 1.020, add seven pounds of sugar. When it has dropped back to 1.10, add another three pounds. When it drops to 1.005, add the final two pounds. If done properly, the terminal gravity will be about 0.9.

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