People often have questions about nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast and how they differ. According to multiple sources on the Internet, there are several differences.
Many people, especially vegetarians and vegans, use nutritional yeast as a supplement. Typically, a form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is harvested, pasteurized, and dried to deactivate it and enhance its nutritional properties. It tends to be available in bulk.
Nutritional yeast contains substantial amounts of niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine and is often fortified with vitamin B-12. For vegans, this is an essential addition because they are susceptible to B-12 deficiency since the vitamin is usually found only in animal-derived products. It also contains a number of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein but does not contain chromium.
Its cheesy-nutty taste without bitterness mimics Parmesan cheese so it can be used as a vegan replacement in mac ’n’ cheese or nacho cheese dip. It can be stirred into sauces or soups, blended in a smoothie, and sprinkled over popcorn instead of salt.
Brewer's yeast is also derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is pasteurized and deactivated. It contains a range of B-complex vitamins, selenium, protein, and chromium—but no B-12. Since it is produced as the byproduct of beer-making, some think it has a bitter taste or a beer-like aftertaste that they do not like. Because it does not contain B-12, vegans and vegetarians (and anyone else who wants more B-12) typically lean toward nutritional yeast.