Turbo yeast has made fermenting a high-ABV wash fast and easy.
It works by using high alcohol tolerant strains of yeast and a concoction of potent yeast nutrients. These sachets can be incredibly efficient, but also lead to producing some nasty flavors and overall a poor quality product.
In this article, we’ll explain how to use turbo the right way so you get a fast and efficient fermentation that also tastes good.
Table of Contents
What Is Turbo Yeast?
Turbo yeast is a type of yeast product used primarily by distillers to increase the alcohol content of their wash (fermented sugar before it is distilled). It can used to make whiskey, vodka, or gin but primarily turbo yeast is used for making neutral spirits.
The term “turbo” refers to the fast and efficient way this yeast works. It ferments faster than other types of yeast, so it’s ideal for people who want to make a lot of alcohol within 1-7 days.
Turbo yeast has added (micro and macro) nutrients that help increase the speed at which the mash ferments. There are various turbo yeasts to choose from depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your wash. The varieties include:
- 24-Hour Turbo Yeast– makes 14% alcohol by volume (ABV) within a day.
- 48-hour Turbo Yeast- makes 14% ABV within 2 days.
- Rum Turbo Yeast- is an excellent companion for spirits made from molasses such as rum, because of its ability to bring about an aromatic taste.
- Vodka Turbo Yeast– great for converting sugar to ethanol and producing clean, neutral spirits.
- Classic 8 Turbo Yeast- Ideal for producing 20% ABV in a short period.
- Heat Turbo Yeast- excellent to use when fermenting in areas where temperatures are above 27℃ (80℉).
- Whiskey Turbo Yeast- works well with malted barley and grains to yield high ABV.
- Pure Pot Still Turbo Yeast – wonderful to use when adding fruit to your spirits. The turbo yeast comes with a pectin enzyme packet which helps to speed up the extraction of fruit sugars during fermentation.
- Triple Distilled Turbo Yeast – For a clean fermentation process.
- Express (Fast) Turbo Yeast -This is a fast-acting yeast that makes 14% ABV in less than 24 hours.
What’s the difference between 24hr and 48hr turbo yeast?
The difference between a 24 and 48-hour turbo yeast is the time it takes to ferment the wash. A 24-hour turbo yeast makes 14% ABV within a day, and a 48-hour turbo yeast makes 14% ABV within 2 days. In both cases, to achieve a higher ABV (up to 20%) or full attenuation, you should leave the wash to ferment for 5 days.
In reality these names don’t mean much. It’s often the same yeast, with more cells in the packet (a higher cell count will ferment faster) or with a different mix of nutrients.
Our Advice: Take the names with a grain of salt. As we’ll explain later in this article, you’re better taking a conservative approach with these yeasts, rather than “making 20% alcohol in 24 hrs” like the marketing might claim..
How To Use Turbo Yeast
You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using turbo yeast. This will ensure that your brew turns out correctly every time. Also, ensure that all materials are sanitized before using turbo yeast to avoid contaminating your wash. The following steps will guide you through using a turbo yeast:
We’re only going to discuss making a sugar wash here – which is what most turbo yeasts are designed for. If you don’t know what a sugar wash is, or want to try out a new recipe, then you can checkout this article on the 3 best sugar wash recipes.
Ingredients will vary depending on the type of alcohol you’re making. Typically, the ingredients you need to add your yeast to are:
- 20 liters of warm water
- 6.4kg sugar
- Turbo yeast
- 20-liter plastic fermenter bucket
- Measuring cylinder
- Start by sanitizing everything you’ll be using. We don’t want any bugs getting in and infecting our final product.
Read more: This article tackles the best distilling sanitizers.
- Pour your sugar into the bucket.
- Add the water into the bucket with the sugar and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Tip: Use boiling water at the start to help dissolve the sugar, then top up with cold water to get the correct fermentation temperature.
- Cut the yeast packet open and pour it into the sugar solution. Stir until all the yeast has dissolved.
- Check the gravity of your ferment using a hydrometer. To do a gravity reading, take some wash from the bucket and pour it into the measuriing cylinder, and insert your hydrometer.
- Tightly seal the container with its lid. Insert the airlock or bubble tube to protect the wash from any foreign bacteria ingress.
- Leave the wash to ferment for about 5 days. Some turbo yeasts claim they can fully ferment in 24hrs, but we strongly suggest you leave it a week (we’ll explain later)
- If the gravity reading is around 1.000 or below, your wash has fermented and is ready to be added to the still.
Tip 1: Temperature
When using turbo yeast, it’s crucial to adhere to the temperatures specified on the packaging. Any drastic increase or decrease in temperature results in the yeast cells stalling and going dormant. Ideally, your temperature range should be 18℃-27℃ (65℉-80℉).
As a rule of thumb, higher temperatures mean faster fermentation but more off flavors.
Our recommendation: Even if your yeast claims it can be fermented at really high temperatures, we suggest keeping the fermentation temperature around 25°C.
Tip 2: Fermentation Time
The turbo yeast instructions will claim it takes anywhere between 24 hours to 48 hours (1-2 days) for your wash to ferment. However we strongly recommend you wait 5-7 days for the following reasons.
- Full Attenuation – Leaving the fermentation for longer will let any residual sugar be converted to alcohol, which means you get more out of the (expensive) sugar you put in.
- Clarification – Waiting for all the yeast activity to subside will cause the yeast cells to floculate (clump together and fall to the bottoms on the fermenter). This means you’ll get a nice clear wash and you wont be distilling all the dead yeast cells.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long does it take for turbo yeast to work?
Because turbo yeasts are powerful enzymes, they react quickly when added to your wash. Typically, you will see some activity within 24 hours after adding turbo yeast to your brew. If you are using a hydrometer, this is a good time to do a gravity reading to check the progress of your fermentation.
Q. What’s the difference between Still Spirits and Alcotec turbo yeast?
Still Spirits and Alcotec turbo yeast are very similar. The type of turbo yeast you use depends on your preference.
Q. Does turbo yeast need a starter?
Turbo yeasts generally don’t need a starter. The advantage of turbo yeast is that it does not require any additional preparation other than dissolving it in water. This saves time and effort since you won’t have to make starters or (typically) monitor the temperature during fermentation.
Even though turbo yeast is not a miracle cure, it’s a high-quality yeast designed to be faster and give better results. When used correctly, Turbo yeast can dramatically change your homebrew game. From yielding high alcohol by volume, to having your mash ready to hit the still within a day, there’s no reason not to give it a try.