If you have been brewing for a good amount of time, there is a good chance you have heard yeast nutrient being mentioned occasionally.
This ingredient is an additive which is commonly added to recipes which are usually for wine, however you will not usually find it mentioned as an ingredient for any beer recipes.
On top of this, there are also a variety of yeast producers who all create and sell their own different types of yeast nutrient which all have slightly different properties.
But this leads many to wonder, what makes these different types of yeast nutrient different, and with these different varieties, when is it best to use each, and what are its different uses?
If you have any questions about yeast nutrient and its uses within brewing, they will likely be answered in this article, so if you are looking for this information, keep reading!
As most brewers know, one of the most critical aspects of making sure that you are producing a good beer, mead, or wine is that the yeast you are using remains healthy enough to produce a drink to the quality you are looking for.
The yeast content is often what is producing the alcohol content, so if the yeast is unhealthy, this whole aspect of the process will be thrown off.
If you do not know, the yeast in brewing is used to convert the sugar in your mix into alcohol.
However, this is not its only function, the yeast will also have a large impact on the flavor of the drink you are creating.
So if it has any issues, you will not just notice in the alcohol content, but also in the final flavor of the product.
When yeast is being used in brewing it will create a large variety of compounds while the wine or beer is fermenting, and these compounds end up being experienced as different flavors.
A good example of this is when wheat beer yeast is being used and depending on how it is used it can have a flavor profile similar to banana, clove, and/or bubblegum.
The flavors which are achieved through the fermentation and compounds of yeast are often what is most desirable in products which use yeast.
However, the inverse is also true and if the process is done poorly, the yeast can create equally disgusting flavors which can ruin a whole batch of a beverage.
One factor which can contribute to a bad flavor from the yeast is if the yeast is unhealthy.
This can cause yeast which is supposed to create one specific flavor profile to make an entirely different one, and if you are looking for a specific result, this can be quite devastating.
These poor results will be caused if the yeast is in poor health or if you are simply not using enough yeast. So what is the best way to stop your yeast from being unhealthy.
One of the best ways to stop this is to make it, so your yeast has proper nutrition.
Yeast Nutrients Are Used To Help The Health Of Yeast Cells
When you add yeast nutrients into a wine or a beer, it is being used to make sure that the beverage is being given the building blocks which are necessary for the yeast content to be able to reproduce and make new cells which is highly beneficial to helping the drink properly ferment.
If these new cells are not available during fermentation the process can be ruined.
For yeast to properly reproduce, it requires certain aspects like amino acids, fatty acids, nitrogen, as well as certain vitamins to make sure it can make the new cells it needs.
If all or some of these are not present when you are adding yeast content into the wort or your must, it will likely create problems which will come up during fermentation, or maybe the beverage will not even be able to ferment at all.
What Is In Yeast Nutrient?
While different blends of yeast nutrient will contain different compounds, there are also some compounds which most include.
However, it is useful to check the ingredients which are included, so you know what you are getting and so you can cross-reference what each ingredient will help with.
Some yeast nutrients will only add certain elements which yeast need, so you will need to make sure that you are including everything which is necessary for your yeast to properly ferment.
While it would be difficult to list every compound which is included in yeast nutrients, we will list some of the most common inclusions, so you can see what they help with.
Diammonium Phosphate is a salt which is used as a source of free amino nitrogen (commonly referred to as FAN).
This is the most common main ingredient you will find in most yeast nutrients on the market as it is vital for maintaining yeast health.
For the most part, malt contains a good amount of FAN, this is why this nutrient is not always needed when it comes to beer making as beer, of course, uses a significant amount of malt.
Yeast hulls are dead yeast cells which can be used as a nutrient for living yeast as it is a good source of lipids as well as fatty acids which are vital when it comes to giving resources which are needed for new yeast cells to be produced.
Vitamins, Thiamine, And Biotin
Yeast will need some certain vitamins which are used for cell growth as well as production of new cells just like human bodies do.
This is why these vitamins are included in yeast nutrient blends to make sure they can be used in compounds to help with yeast reproduction.
Biotin specifically is a B-vitamin which is often used in production of country wine.
Magnesium And Zinc
These are compound which are added into yeast nutrient, and they are used mainly for helping increase the cell count of the yeast. The magnesium specifically is used for aiding the metabolism of the yeast,
Do You Need To Use Yeast Nutrient?
If you are using a recipe which specifically lists yeast nutrient as an ingredient, this means it should not be ignored as it is being included to compensate for a lack of nutrients in the rest of the recipe.
If it is not included when it is asked for, your beverage will likely not ferment properly and will end up tasting bad.
However, there are some times when it is worth adding yeast nutrient if it is not listed, but there are also times it is not listed and should not be included.
Yeast Nutrient In Beer Making
Generally speaking, the production of beer will include of the nutrients which yeast needs to properly ferment as the wort for making beer uses many ingredients rich in nutrients for yeast like malted barley.
This means that you usually will not need to add yeast nutrient into beer mixtures.
However, there is a chance that there could be circumstances where adding yeast nutrients would be helpful to the production of the beer.
There are some specific situations in which adding yeast nutrients would definitely be helpful.
The Beer Being A Particularly High Gravity Beer
All different strains of yeast will have a different level of tolerance for alcohol which depends on the type of yeast they are.
The closer the yeast will get to this tolerance, the harder it will be for this yeast to function properly.
By adding yeast nutrients into your beer which is over or near 8% you will ensure that your yeast will have no issues with either stalling or being under excessive stress.
The Beer Using A High Portion Of Adjuncts
If you are making a beer which is using a high amount of adjuncts, especially if this is a high amount of fermentables which are from the plain sugar inclusion.
Sugar does not include any real nutrients for the yeast and in most cases where a quarter or more of the fermentables are from the adjunct inclusions, it is a good idea to use yeast nutrients.
If you are not brewing a beer which is similar to the past 2 examples, you should not need to use yeast nutrients when making beer.
As previously mentioned, the wort of the beer will already have enough nutrients for the yeast to properly feed on and be healthy enough to reproduce for proper fermentation.
Nutrients For Yeast Starters
If you commonly make your own yeast starters then using yeast starters may give you improved results. Using these yeast nutrients will improve the numbers of your yeast cells and help them receive better nutrition.
The best way to improve the production of these yeast starters is to add a yeast nutrient which has a good nitrogen, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin content.
Yeast Nutrients For Wine Making Or Mead And Cider
These are the situations when yeast nutrients become a lot more important as the ingredients which mead, wine, and cider are made from tend to be much less nutrient dense than that in a beer wort.
Country wines which use more than 90% of its fermentable sugars are in fact simple sugars then yeast nutrients will be needed.
This is the same for mead as honey is a simple sugar. In most cases yeast nutrients are needed for wine, cider, and mead as it is best to ensure the yeast has enough nitrogen content.
There is no home test for the nutrients which yeast has so adding nutrients when it is assumed they are needed is important.
How Much Yeast Nutrient Should Be Used?
The dosage of yeast nutrients will usually be labelled on the packaging and this is the best advice to follow. For most yeast nutrients it is recommended to add a single gram for every liter or a teaspoon for every gallon.
The best time to add it is at the start of fermentation or multiple times throughout the process depending on what you are making.