Yeast nutrient will give your yeast just what it needs to thrive and complete a healthy fermentation process. When to add the nutrient can vary, so how do you know when is best?
Yeast nutrient is used to nourish yeast and allow it to complete the fermentation. For the best results, add the yeast nutrient during the last 10 minutes of the boil. This will allow the nutrient to be present in the beer during each step of the fermentation process and will ensure that it is sanitized.
Continue reading to better understand yeast nutrient: what it is, when to use it, and how and when to add it.
What is yeast nutrient?
Yeast nutrient does exactly as the name implies; it nourishes yeast. A bacteria with quite the appetite, yeast does best under certain conditions. In order to meet those conditions – or heighten them even more – nutrients are required. This is no exception for homebrewing.
Yeast nutrient composition generally varies between products, but they do similar things. In homebrewing, yeast nutrient will help the yeast complete the fermentation of your beer, especially high gravity ones. Yeast nutrient generally includes diammonium phosphate, zinc, amino acids, and vitamins and nutrients.
Does yeast nutrient speed up fermentation?
Yeast nutrient ensures your yeast does its job, but it won’t make it do it faster.
Yeast nutrient does not speed up fermentation. However, it will make a great catalyst and will allow your yeast to eat more efficiently. It will reduce unwanted byproducts of fermentation and benefit the final taste and smell of your beer, as well as take care of the large amounts of sugar in high ABV brews.
If you desire a quicker fermentation, the best practice is to try increasing the fermentation temperature.
Do you need yeast nutrient?
Yeast nutrient is not always essential, but it won’t hurt your brew to use it.
For average-gravity level beers, it’s likely that you won’t even need nutrients. Although, a little pinch or two won’t hurt. For higher gravity beers, you may need some nutrients to help your yeast eat up all of the sugars present.
The need for yeast nutrient is typically contingent on the amount of sugar in the beer, or the final desired ABV. You can still use it in low-ABV beers.
What is the best time to add yeast nutrient?
When using yeast nutrients, different products say different things.
Trial and error can be useful here; the addition of nutrients is contingent on many factors and variables. To be safe, follow the instructions of the product you’re using. Once you’re comfortable with using yeast nutrient, you can begin to experiment with your timing.
For Wyeast’s nutrient, for example, the manufacturer’s directions suggest that you add the nutrient with 10 minutes left in the boil. However, from experience and from reading online, you will find that the timing of the addition of nutrients is often subjective.
Sticking with Wyeast, you can even add it to the middle of fermentation. If you’re worried about sanitization, though, add it during the boil. If you add the nutrient early – during the boil, for example – you ensure that the requirements are met to finish fermentation before it even starts. If you add it to the beginning or during fermentation, you might not get all of the benefits of adding it.
However, your brew might not need the nutrients. In this case, adding a little at the beginning or in the middle of fermentation might be just what your brew needs if it’s having trouble completing or starting fermentation.
How do you add yeast nutrient?
When you’ve figured out when to add your nutrient, or if you even want to use it at all, your next step is to decide how you add it. In this case, it’s best practice to follow directions.
Put warm water in a large enough bowl or container. Then, add the nutrients and allow them to dissolve into the water. Finally, add the solution into the wort with about 10-15 minutes remaining.
This is the best practice for adding yeast nutrient to your brew. There are different methods and products to use, but I’ve found this is the safest bet, especially if you’ve never used yeast nutrient before.
Should you boil yeast nutrient?
If you add yeast nutrient, you might want to boil the brew after…or you might not. When adding the nutrient, the timing is important. As for boiling yeast nutrient, it is not necessary.
You can boil the nutrient to sanitize it, but the yeast will eat up harmful bacteria, and the need to boil the nutrient becomes nonexistent. If you’re still skeptical, there is no harm in adding it with 10-15 minutes left in the boil.
Some products specifically say to add yeast nutrient with time left in the boil. Feel free to stray away from product directions, as it can be equally beneficial to add yeast nutrient at different times, such as at the start or in the middle of fermentation.
At what temperature do you add yeast nutrient?
During fermentation, adding yeast nutrient is a great way to make sure you finish the process on a high note.
Add yeast nutrient during fermentation at about 65-67°F. This is an ideal temperature for your yeast to thrive and make use of the nutrients.
The temperature is an important factor to consider when adding yeast nutrient to your brew, and so is the amount that you add.
Can you use too much yeast nutrient?
You can certainly use too much yeast nutrient, but that likely won’t happen. As long as you follow the directions for the amount to use, you will be fine, even if you go a bit over or under the recommended amount.
If you use too much nutrient, your yeast might not be able to eliminate all of it, making for an off-tasting final product. If you add too little, your yeast might not get enough nutrients to be able to finish fermentation. The latter is not as likely, though, unless you’re making a high gravity beer.
The amount of yeast nutrient you should use depends on the gravity and desired ABV of the beer, and is best controlled by following the directions of the product you’re using.
Should you add yeast nutrient during secondary fermentation?
It’s best to stay away from adding yeast nutrient during secondary fermentation.
Don’t add yeast nutrient to secondary fermentation. By then, your beer will be mostly done fermenting, and adding more nutrients will either leave your beer tasting funny from the leftover, or it might continue fermenting even after bottling, causing a chaotic eruption of bottles and cans.
Stick with adding nutrients to the boil or primary fermentation. There’s no need for adding it to secondary and will cause more harm than good.