Author Topic: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?  (Read 1467 times)

Offline Capt. Vorlauf

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Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« on: March 25, 2014, 07:40:42 AM »
I ve got a question that I'm not sure has been asked on this forum but there's a first time for everything right?
What if…you are brewing a barley wine(OG 1.110), and you use your 1056 or 001 or xyz yeast strain to do your ferment, but it doesn't get you as low of a FG as you want, say 1.030, but you want it to be dry…and you are going to force carbonate anyway…has any one ever used a wine yeast to make a barley wine? I have a back ground that started in home brewed beer and moved on to home made wine and am now coming back to beer brewing and not sure if the two can "cross over".  I'm wondering if the beer yeasts are eating the Maltose to their delight and pooping out all the great beer attributes earlier on in the original fermentation would they should still be present after the wine yeast strains, who can handle the higher alcohol levels, eat the remaining sugars?
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 07:50:20 AM »
The scenar you lay out would be about 10% ABV. Wyeast claims 11% on 1056. What I would do is get some of my gravity from simple sugars, so it may attenuate better. Oxygenate well and watch my fermentation temp so it stays steady or maybe ramp up, but not let it drop. Ive not tried wine yeast, and with extra attention I dont think its necessary. Just one guy's opinion.

Offline Capt. Vorlauf

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 08:24:56 AM »
The scenar you lay out would be about 10% ABV. Wyeast claims 11% on 1056. What I would do is get some of my gravity from simple sugars, so it may attenuate better. Oxygenate well and watch my fermentation temp so it stays steady or maybe ramp up, but not let it drop. Ive not tried wine yeast, and with extra attention I dont think its necessary. Just one guy's opinion.
The ambient temp in my "Brewcave" is 59-60of and I thought that would be too low a temp for an ale even tho active ferment lands us at @68o f so I've been trying to control my temps with a new fangled water bath setup and low an be hold it worked but too good and the temps were too high for me to be comfortable with (highest was @78!) I am afraid of fenol alcohols. I cooled it back down to 68 and it keeps coming back up into 70's so things seem to be fine as far as not stalling out the yeast. So my question is hypothetical but based in fear and paranoia. It's been going for 7 days now. After reading the forum for a bit (longer then I've been posting) I've decided to do things a bit different and just monitor but not fix a FG. I'm finding that the "calendrical" approach to brewing (i.e. primary for 7 days then rack to secondary for X# days etc.) is not the most effective means of a good final product, would you agree?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 08:27:00 AM »
That's over 70% attenuation, I'd be pretty happy with that for a beer that big.  I would chill and force carbonate a sample before you decide if it is dry enough.

Whether wine yeast will work or not depends on what sugars are left.  I don't think wine yeasts can ferment maltotriose, so if that is what you are trying to knock down it won't work.

Also, ignore the calendar, it is a terrible way to brew beer.  Let the beer tell you when it is done.  And skip the secondary unless you intend to bulk age the beer for a long time.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2014, 09:10:18 AM »
I love it! "What if... " is actually "well, here I am". Sound familiar lol.


Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2014, 11:13:48 AM »
I'll add that a 60-62 ambient it's perfect for barley wine. It will move slowly and you would want to warm it up after a couple weeks but at first it's perfect.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 12:09:33 PM »
I agree that your ambient temperature is dang near perfect for fermenting ales.  The temp in the fermenting wort will be several degrees warmer, say mid 60's F.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2014, 12:10:40 PM »
I agree that your ambient temperature is dang near perfect for fermenting ales.  The temp in the fermenting wort will be several degrees warmer, say mid 60's F.

+1
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2014, 02:14:04 PM »
Wine yeasts are low attenuators of wort.  I saw a chart showing the attenuation of various beer yeast and champagne yeast on wort and champagne yeast was the lowest by far. So adding a wine yeast ain't going to work.

There was an article in the latest edition of zymurgy which recommended fermenting quite warm (70s+) with barleywines and then aging the barleywine a long time (6+ months?) to get the desired complexity.  So you might be well served by finishing the beer at a warm temp to get your FG down.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2014, 02:19:08 PM »
Wine yeast are pretty bad at fermenting maltose and I do not believe they can ferment maltriose at all. That whole idea that you can pitch champagne yeast or other wine yeast at the end of a big beer doesn't really make sense for exactly this reason. Champagne yeast will work to unstick a stuck fermentation because it will chew up the simpler sugars and make a more gentle environment for brewing yeast to consume maltose.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many wine yeast strains have a killer enzyme that will kill off other sacc strains.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Wine Yeast to finish a High Gravity Beer?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2014, 02:46:33 PM »
With that OG you're looking at roughly 11-13% ABV depending on FG. Chico will ferment out very reliably at those alcohol levels - actually, I've never heard of an ale yeast that won't. Where the FG will end up is going to depend on the fermentability of the wort (mash schedule) and yeast health (pitching rate, oxygen/micronutrient availability, temperature). As a general rule, with a "big" as opposed to "huge" beer, everything will work out as long as you pitched enough yeast. Low 60s is a good place to start most ales, but it can be helpful to bump that up into the low 70s towards the end of active fermentation to keep the yeast active.
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