Beer Yeast vs. Wine Yeast: Know the Differences

The oldest foods and beverages produced by humans, including bread, beer, and wine, have all involved the use of yeast.

Even after hundreds of years, many are still unsure of the precise distinctions between wine yeast, beer yeast, and bread yeast.

I’m here to enlighten you.

History of Beer Yeast & Wine Yeast

Although both beer and wine yeasts are members of the same type of yeast, their evolution and cultivation have taken place over time at various stages and in various methods.

For ages, people have been producing wine and beer.

Because brewers and winemakers worked at different times of the year, beer yeast and wine yeast developed genetic variations.

Vintners didn’t have to rely on gathering and reusing yeast from batch to batch because wine is a seasonal beverage.

Instead, they simply needed to break the grapes’ skins to allow the natural yeasts to begin the fermentation process.

This annual rush to gather grapes and process them into wine resulted in (and continues to result in) dramatically varied outcomes from one vintage to the next.

On the other hand, beer can be produced throughout the year.

Brewers started to cultivate yeasts specifically to dependably produce tasty beer after noting which batches were best.

Difference between beer yeast and wine yeast

  1. Alcohol sensitivity
  2. Fermentation
  3. Nutrition and survival strategies ( some can be eaten and some can’t)


Brewers have been cultivating several strains of the original S. cerevisiae species for millennia to suit their demands and the environment in which they operate.

Beer yeast and wine yeast are both S. cerevisiae, but they are no longer the same strain as a result of human intervention (or lack thereof) over hundreds of years.

Researchers at the University of Leuven claim that because beer yeasts are so specialized, they cannot exist in nature today.

Contrarily, wine yeast in contemporary winemaking is a little more challenging.

Numerous winemakers solely use the ambient yeast found in the winery to ferment their wines.


Wine yeast ferments fructose and glucose, whereas beer yeast ferments maltose.

Malt, which is a dried cereal grain used in brewing, contains maltose. Fruits include fructose and glucose, which when fermented, produce wine.

Pitching yeast dosage:

Similar techniques can be used to pitch yeast into wine and beer; it can either be used as a starter or rehydrated right before use.

The liquid must also be at the proper temperature for the particular yeast being used; for example, ales and wines can have warmer liquid temperatures whereas lagers require colder wort temperatures to prevent the yeast from being killed.

Both wine and beer yeast pitching can be calculated online.

Generally speaking, you need a lot less yeast to make wine than beer because wine is more naturally wild.

Alcohol sensitivity

Beer yeasts typically have a natural ABV cap of 8–10%, whereas wine yeasts can make wines with an ABV range of 11–18%.

These large variations are brought on by the variation in the various strains of wine and beer yeasts.

Overall, compared to beer yeast, wine yeast is more tolerant of greater alcohol concentrations. Other methods exist to raise these percentages.

When fruit or sugar is added to beer, the yeast has additional sugars to ferment, which raises the alcohol content.

This can be done in wine via chaptalizing, which is the addition of sugar.

Giving the yeast another chance to produce additional alcohol is the same fundamental concept as before.


The amount of sugar fermentation into alcohol is referred to as attenuation.

Each yeast strain defines attenuation, which is influenced by environmental conditions in both wine and beer.

Since most dry wines sold today are attenuated to 100%, winemakers typically aim for this attenuation level.

They would select a wine yeast with a low attenuation rate to produce a sweeter wine (72 or lower). Since champagne yeasts are introduced to a still wine along with (basically a sugar mixture) before being sealed under a bottle cap.

They typically have a medium attenuation rate. Sparkling wine is created in this manner.

Yeast comes in two varieties: dry and fresh.

Dry active yeast:

It is very convenient to use and has a very long shelf life.

Before adding it to the dough, dissolve it with warm water, flour, sugar, or honey, and presto! Your active yeast is already hard at work.

You can get it online or at any grocery. Additionally, there is Instant Yeast, which is merely incorporated into the dry ingredients before the addition of the water and oil.

If you use instant yeast, place the yeast in one corner and the salt in a different one; otherwise, the salt will inhibit the action of the yeast.

Fresh yeast

Fresh yeast has a very limited shelf life and can spoil very quickly. You may certainly use it and have fun with the process, but if you don’t bake frequently, it’s a bit of a waste.

If you can’t find it there, try your neighborhood bakery. You can also try your neighborhood grocers. They could be open to selling you some.

I am aware from experience that we once provided fresh yeast to customers upon request. Don’t be shy, then.

Sourdough starter

Last but not least, use a sourdough starter or natural leavener.

I’ll just call this sourdough for the rest of this piece. a sourdough culture that requires regular feedings, just like a newborn.

By keeping it cold, you can slow it down or lengthen the intervals between feedings.

Whole wheat or rye flour and water can be combined to make it at home by anyone.

After mixing it, you leave it in that state for a few days, feeding it occasionally (ideally every day) for about a week.


However, during the 1990s, many winemakers switched to genetically modified wine yeasts, which consistently produce great wine year after year and have a “killing factor” that kills any other yeast that may be present.



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