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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: muddypuddle on February 22, 2011, 10:44:32 PM

Title: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: muddypuddle on February 22, 2011, 10:44:32 PM
I am brewing a big beer this weekend- anticipated OG at 1.134.  its a big ol' belgian barleywine (if there was such a category). looking for suggestions on yeast.

thanks-

phil
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: denny on February 22, 2011, 10:46:13 PM
The entire slurry from a 5 gal. batch of 50s OG beer.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: muddypuddle on February 22, 2011, 10:50:27 PM
yeah, that's what i was hoping to avoid. 

any other suggestions?  hoping to get it brewed this weekend, so unfortunately no time to brew a smaller beer batch. 

thanks!

phil
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: denny on February 22, 2011, 11:10:49 PM
You don't so much need an alcohol tolerant yeast as a LOT of healthy yeast.  I just don't see how you can build up a sufficient population in that amount of time.  AFAIAC, if your yeast isn't ready, you're no more ready to brew than if you had no malt or hops.  mrmalty says 5 smackpacks without a starter or 4 packs in a 3 L. starter.  You're going to be putting a lot of money into this beer for ingredients, and a lot of time brewing it and waiting for it to mature.  Don't hobble yourself right off the bat by rushing into brewing before everything is ready.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 22, 2011, 11:13:46 PM
What is your OG?  1.134?  How about 5 smack packs of Ardennes?  I like that yeast for lots of Belgian styles.

If you have the time, do an extract version of something like Denny suggests, and do it tonight or tomorrow.  You can rack it to "secondary" to finish, and put your Belgian barleywine on the slurry.  I think it will work out to be cheaper than buying enough yeast to finish your desired beer, so even if it tastes bad and you dump it you come out ahead.  But if you're lucky it will be delicious.

But like Denny says, better to have a plan and do it when you are ready than to rush it and have a bad batch.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: muddypuddle on February 22, 2011, 11:16:13 PM
understood.  thanks guys.  will hit the brew shop tonight and see if i can get in a quick brew session tonight/tomorrow night.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: Beertracker on February 22, 2011, 11:17:13 PM
yeah, that's what i was hoping to avoid. 

any other suggestions?  hoping to get it brewed this weekend, so unfortunately no time to brew a smaller beer batch. 

thanks!

phil

If you're going "flatout" and hoping for the best, then I'd recommend using two packets of Fermentis SafBrew T-58 but I wouldn't add all of the fermentables at once. Save any sugar additions for the secondary. I've had good luck with strain especially using it to bottle condition higher alcohol Belgies. Good luck!  ;)
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: smoga on February 24, 2011, 06:20:32 PM
I have done the technique of pitch on top of the yeast 6 or 7 times with excellent results
Just a couple of comments on Wyeast Belgian strains for high gravity beers;
Of the current/regular strains:
1388 - Belgian Strong is a excellent yeast for Tripels and golden strong ales
3787 - Trappist high gravity - I don't recommend it, never heard of great attenuation with this strain
3711 - French Saison - much like the 1388 this is a very attenuative yeast. I have know brewers to pitch this after the 3787 to clean up the fermentation
Of the Wyeast private collection strains
3739 - Flanders Golden Ale - a wickedly attenuative yeast. Experienced it taking a 1.135 beer down to 1.008 -
3864 - Canadian/Belgian Ale Yeast - A great yeast for Belgian dark strong
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: Bad Brewer on February 25, 2011, 01:56:37 AM
Wyeast 1214 might be a good choice.  I've had this one, with proper pitching rate, oxygenation, and feeding, take a 1.135 down to 1.035 (73% apparent attenuation, 12.8% ABV).  The lag phase may be slightly longer than some other ale yeasts.  1388 is another good choice. When starting with an ale with high gravity I will use the yeast strain that produces a flavor profile I want, pitch multiple packs (for a 1.134 OG my calculator says 475billion cells, that is 4 or 5 wyeast smack packs).

If you get stuck (hopefully not):

White Labs WLP099 high gravity ale yeast. (http://"http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/strains_wlp099.html")

I haven't used this strain (yet) as a primary yeast for an ale, I may give it a try sometime this summer though.  I have used it to finish a stuck fermentation once, worked well for me.

Worst case-
If the yeast does not hit my desired FG by the time it slows I throw in a starter made with WLP099 and nutrients.  Before that strain was available I used a dry champagne yeast, lavlin EC-1118 is a good neutral yeast, won't alter the flavor much.


You will have to use pure O2 to oxygenate your wort at that gravity, and you should consider a second oxygenation at 12-16 hours.  Also, get a yeast nutrient and add per directions at the end of your boil, then add that same amount to the fermentor when you oxygenate a second time.  Might consider letting it ferment at the top end of the temp range for the yeast strain you choose, and you should consider letting it sit in primary for 24-48 hours after the point you would rack to a secondary on a lower gravity wort.  That gives the yeast a chance to clean things up a bit, clear diacetyl out.

I have had some yeast strains work well beyond the listed alcohol tolerance by pitching high, feeding them at least one time after fermentation is going, letting it run at the warm end, and oxygenating again at 16 hours.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: jamminbrew on February 25, 2011, 02:07:31 AM

If you're going "flatout" and hoping for the best, then I'd recommend using two packets of Fermentis SafBrew T-58 but I wouldn't add all of the fermentables at once. Save any sugar additions for the secondary. I've had good luck with strain especially using it to bottle condition higher alcohol Belgies. Good luck!  ;)
If I wait to add sugars until secondary, do I boil them in water first, or add straight to the secondary?
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: Bad Brewer on February 25, 2011, 02:24:15 AM
I'd say yes.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: tygo on February 25, 2011, 02:25:29 AM
3787 - Trappist high gravity - I don't recommend it, never heard of great attenuation with this strain

This is my yeast of choice for my 1.080+ golden strong ale.  It always attenuates like a champ.  Usually around 95% in a wort with sugar as 20% of the fermentables.  However, I currently have WLP530 working on one, which is supposed to be the same thing, and it doesn't appear to be working quite as well.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: bluesman on February 25, 2011, 03:13:33 AM
I brewed a big barleywine the first week of this year. The OG was 1.112 and I used two packs of S05 with a healthy wort aeration. The wort was chilled down to 60F and the yeast was pitched dry. I am surpised at it's performance to say the least.

That beer fermented all the way down to 1.024. That's 78.6% attenuation. I am impressed. I think S05 is now my "go to" yeast for barleywines.  :)
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: nateo on February 25, 2011, 07:04:59 PM
I agree with Tygo about 3787. If you're not getting good attenuation with that strain, you're doing something wrong. I usually get 90% attenuation with my quadruples with that strain.

I've also had good luck with S-04 for barleywine. OG 1.120, FG 1.020, 83% attenuation, which is respectable.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: jaybeerman on February 25, 2011, 07:33:07 PM
I brewed a big barleywine the first week of this year. The OG was 1.112 and I used two packs of S05 with a healthy wort aeration. The wort was chilled down to 60F and the yeast was pitched dry. I am surpised at it's performance to say the least.

That beer fermented all the way down to 1.024. That's 78.6% attenuation. I am impressed. I think S05 is now my "go to" yeast for barleywines.  :)

What fermentation temp did you maintain? How would you describe the ester profile of the beer?  Any off-flavors?  just curious.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: bluesman on February 25, 2011, 07:48:12 PM

What fermentation temp did you maintain? How would you describe the ester profile of the beer?  Any off-flavors?  just curious.  cheers, j

I fermented between 60-64F. There was an initial spike but my cellar is at 60F so it helped keep the temps at bay. The beer is so young right now it's hard to nail it down as it will evolve over the next six months to a year quite a bit. I'm thinking some dark fruit and a huge malty profile followed by some pleasant hop flavor as it warms your chest upon finishing. How's that.. :)

...but I can say it tasted quite good out of the hydrometer tube. It's bulk aging in a glass carboy right now.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: jaybeerman on February 25, 2011, 08:39:17 PM
I fermented between 60-64F. There was an initial spike but my cellar is at 60F so it helped keep the temps at bay. The beer is so young right now it's hard to nail it down as it will evolve over the next six months to a year quite a bit. I'm thinking some dark fruit and a huge malty profile followed by some pleasant hop flavor as it warms your chest upon finishing. How's that.. :)

...but I can say it tasted quite good out of the hydrometer tube. It's bulk aging in a glass carboy right now.

Nice.  While there are multiple yeast strains that will ferment out a crapload of sugar it's nice when the finished beer tastes good too (i.e. acceptable levels of esters and minimal fusel).  Using the same temps I've had good luck with the Edinburgh strain as well.

Muddy, +1 on the yeast nutrients and proper aeration.  Depending on which yeast you choose, use the lower half of the temp range for that yeast, to control the speed of the fermentation.  You're just looking to maintain a steady consistent fermentation, take as much time as it needs with the slightly lower temps.  cheers, j

edit; that's after following the advice of tom/denny
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: Bad Brewer on March 02, 2011, 11:17:44 PM
I fermented between 60-64F. There was an initial spike but my cellar is at 60F so it helped keep the temps at bay. The beer is so young right now it's hard to nail it down as it will evolve over the next six months to a year quite a bit. I'm thinking some dark fruit and a huge malty profile followed by some pleasant hop flavor as it warms your chest upon finishing. How's that.. :)

...but I can say it tasted quite good out of the hydrometer tube. It's bulk aging in a glass carboy right now.

Nice.  While there are multiple yeast strains that will ferment out a crapload of sugar it's nice when the finished beer tastes good too (i.e. acceptable levels of esters and minimal fusel).  Using the same temps I've had good luck with the Edinburgh strain as well.

Muddy, +1 on the yeast nutrients and proper aeration.  Depending on which yeast you choose, use the lower half of the temp range for that yeast, to control the speed of the fermentation.  You're just looking to maintain a steady consistent fermentation, take as much time as it needs with the slightly lower temps.  cheers, j

edit; that's after following the advice of tom/denny

I usually let it run hot, right at the top of the temp range, for the first 48 to 72 hours, this helps the yeast reach the desired population and health levels.  Then back it down slowly to about the middle (or let it run on the hot end) for a really high gravity ale.  I can't say I have ever tried an ale at the lower end of the recommended temp range for an ale yeast.  Always thought it was better for them to run warm as most ale yeasts produce their desirable flavor compounds at the warm end.

Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: denny on March 02, 2011, 11:30:15 PM
I usually let it run hot, right at the top of the temp range, for the first 48 to 72 hours, this helps the yeast reach the desired population and health levels.  Then back it down slowly to about the middle (or let it run on the hot end) for a really high gravity ale.  I can't say I have ever tried an ale at the lower end of the recommended temp range for an ale yeast.  Always thought it was better for them to run warm as most ale yeasts produce their desirable flavor compounds at the warm end.



I guess it depends on what flavors you want and how that yeast delivers them.  But for one thing, you run a higher risk of creating fusels of you start too warm.  Especially if you take into account that fermentation will raise the temp also.  For my tastes, I'd rather pitch a large population if healthy yeast off the bat and not have to worry too much about raising the temp to accommodate them.  Through my own experience, that's what I've come to prefer.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: Bad Brewer on March 03, 2011, 12:00:54 AM
Yeah.  I have a two stage temp controller, put my conical with thermowell inside a fridge, wrap it in a fermwrap heater, punch in a 5 degree spread for high/low, and it usually keeps my temps within a couple of degrees of the desired set point.  As an example, I set my high range at 70-72, the cooling kicks in at 72 and takes it to 70.  Set the low range from 68-70 and the heater kicks in at 68 and takes it to 70.  That usually keeps my average temp very close to 70.

I agree completely that its probably a bad idea to just let it run hot, best to keep it within the specified temp range for your yeast.

With meads (yeah, wrong folder, just for comparison though) some have extremely high starting gravity (1.150 to 1.170 or more), I always let them run at the warmer end for 72 hours, but then back them down slowly.  Give the yeast a chance to become healthy and active. 

For high gravity ales (and meads) I also like to stir them up once a day for the first two or three days, resuspend the yeast and prevent them from getting too caked on the bottom early on.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: tschmidlin on March 03, 2011, 12:09:43 AM
That usually keeps my average temp very close to 70.
Have you ever had any of your high gravity beers or meads judged?

I'm with Denny, I prefer fermenting cooler than that.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: jaybeerman on March 03, 2011, 12:20:20 AM
I usually let it run hot, right at the top of the temp range, for the first 48 to 72 hours, this helps the yeast reach the desired population and health levels.  Then back it down slowly to about the middle (or let it run on the hot end) for a really high gravity ale.  I can't say I have ever tried an ale at the lower end of the recommended temp range for an ale yeast.  Always thought it was better for them to run warm as most ale yeasts produce their desirable flavor compounds at the warm end.

This is a recipe for disaster; like denny said, you're running the risk of creating too much fusel alcohol and other unwanted character.  There's a second issue - the nature of high gravity fermentation is that lots of esters (the combination of alcohols and acids) will be produced.  So in a high gravity ale you're still going to end up with a fair amount of esters even when
1. a good yeast choice is made
2. a proper amount pitched
3. wort is properly oxygenated
4. lower end fermentation temperatures used

Try the upward temperature sweep (or just a simple lower end temp) in one of your high gravity brews and see what you think.  cheers, j


btw, what yeast strains are we talking about?  70f isn't scary high but it's higher than i would ferment most yeast strains in a high gravity brew


<edit>  my original comment was based on barleywine not mead or belgian beers
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: gordonstrong on March 03, 2011, 09:44:59 PM
3787.  Start cool, but let it rise to where it wants to be.  Do not try to cool it down, or it will stop on you.  Let it finish.  It knows what it's doing.  Plenty of oxygen, sufficient nutrients, bigass starter, yada yada.  You'd need to do that for any strain.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: bonjour on March 04, 2011, 12:28:46 AM
I usually let it run hot, right at the top of the temp range, for the first 48 to 72 hours,
IMHO, no never.  Especially on a big beer.  You do NOT want to develop any fusels from higher temps.
Title: Re: Best high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast?
Post by: bonjour on March 04, 2011, 12:54:05 AM
The best yeast,  I do not believe it makes a big difference.  What makes a big difference is to take care of the fermentation.

I typically brew something like a mild as a starter, or alternately for this big of a beer start with 3 packs of rehydrated US-05.
Plenty of O2.