Author Topic: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance  (Read 1112 times)

Offline Chronospa

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Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« on: August 10, 2016, 03:26:42 PM »
Sorry for the newbie question but I'm not understanding the posts and resources I'm finding about yeast and alcohol tolerance. People helped me a lot in another thread about a stalled barley wine I'm working on. The one remaining point I'm not getting is: If a yeast strain has a stated alcohol tolerance of 9% then does pitching MORE of it actually do anything?

My recipe has a target ABV of close to 13% and it said to do a 4L starter of Wyeast 1968 London ESB. I made a mistake and only did 2L. Would that extra 2L have done anything or would the extra yeast died off once it hits the 9-10% level?

So yeast is kind of like the old saying of 9 women can't make a baby in 1 month, right? Adding more yeast (of the same strain) to a beer isn't going to let them gang up and power through a higher alcohol content, right?

Thanks,

Jerry

Offline denny

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2016, 03:36:07 PM »
Alcohol tolerance, like recommended fermentation temp and attenuation rating, should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is almost no yeast I know of that won't go to at least 10%.  I've gone to 12+% with US05. 

In general, your idea is close to true.  But it depends on the fermentability of the wort and how much yeast you pitch.  For a high gravity beer, made with a highly fermentable wort and pitched with plenty of healthy yeast, it should be a problem.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 09:52:53 PM »
Alcohol tolerance, like recommended fermentation temp and attenuation rating, should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is almost no yeast I know of that won't go to at least 10%.  I've gone to 12+% with US05. 

In general, your idea is close to true.  But it depends on the fermentability of the wort and how much yeast you pitch.  For a high gravity beer, made with a highly fermentable wort and pitched with plenty of healthy yeast, it should be a problem.

I think you mean it should NOT be a problem...

I've had 1968 perform very well in high-gravity beers.  I know at least one of them came out around 12.5%, so with enough yeast and good aeration it will get you there.  It may slow down at the end, but it gets there.

IME temperature fluctuations are much more likely to cause a yeast to stall than alcohol, up to a point.
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Offline Steve Ruch

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2016, 09:56:47 PM »
Alcohol tolerance, like recommended fermentation temp and attenuation rating, should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is almost no yeast I know of that won't go to at least 10%.  I've gone to 12+% with US05. 

I've read posts claiming over 15% with the Chico strain. The first big beer I ever brewed was a barleywine of 12% with Chico, and I didn't have a clue to what I was doing.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 11:15:19 PM »
Alcohol tolerance, like recommended fermentation temp and attenuation rating, should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is almost no yeast I know of that won't go to at least 10%.  I've gone to 12+% with US05. 

I've read posts claiming over 15% with the Chico strain. The first big beer I ever brewed was a barleywine of 12% with Chico, and I didn't have a clue to what I was doing.
For the NHC in Grand Rapids (it was NHC then), the AABG club that I belong to did a same must different yeast exp and demo. The Chico strain got to 15-16%, but it was a long time getting ther compared to the wine yeasts used.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2016, 11:02:34 AM »
I just encountered alcohol tolerance for the first time in a barleywine.  A friend had warned me that Notty will quit at 9% and I basically blew him off like yeah yeah yeah.  Well, OG 1.113 quit fermenting at 1.044 so he was right on the money.  With the typical ~80% attenuation for this yeast I was sure it would finish lower at 1.023 or something in that neighborhood.  Nope.  Swirling and temperature didn't make the yeast keep going.  No.  They were done.  Interestingly, the beer tastes fine and not overly thick or sweet.  So.......... I never would have believed it before but now I am a believer!!!

But no, I am also sure that adding more yeast would NOT have helped.  I didn't try but I just seriously doubt it because it rarely helps on any other beer so this would be even worse knowing it had already hit 9% alcohol limit.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2016, 11:06:06 AM by dmtaylor »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2016, 12:40:10 PM »
Some time back I made a British Barleywine at 1.115 OG and split the batch for 2 yeast pitches. One got Wyeast 1028, 11%, The other got WLP - 022 Essex, medium tolerance according to White Labs, and the local Pub Brewer says it only goes to about 9% for him.

The yeasts were bumped up by brewing 3 gallons of best bitter for each. That yeast cake was used for the barleywine. Both ended up at 12.5%, IIRC. Nutrients in the boil and 2 O2 additions were used to keep the yeast happy.
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Offline zwiller

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2016, 12:59:41 PM »
Dave brings up a good point.  IMO the FG is just a number and has nothing to do with taste.  I've had a few some beers with higher than expected FG and they didn't taste anything like what you would expect based on the numbers. 

Maybe others will disagree but I think beers beyond 1.100 needed to be treated with respect.  These are HUGE beers...  I think once you approach 1.100 there seems to be a much higher risk factor of stalling no matter what you do.  Sometimes you get lucky...
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2016, 01:10:11 PM »
Maybe some fresh yeast really would have helped.  Too late now.  My barleywine entered a solera barrel and is now forever intertwined with a lot of other beer.  :)
Dave

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Offline Chronospa

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2016, 01:53:23 PM »
Thank's to everyone for their advice. I'm going to do a new starter of a yeast (Wyeast 1056 as recommended) with higher tolerance and add it to the fermenter.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2016, 04:09:49 PM »
Maybe some fresh yeast really would have helped.  Too late now.  My barleywine entered a solera barrel and is now forever intertwined with a lot of other beer.  :)

IME, adding fresh active yeast has never helped restart a fermentation. I always try it though in good hopes and am always disappointed. In theory though, if there really is 40-50 gravity points to chew through you would think that a fresh yeast would happily go to work for you. They must be on strike.

Offline zwiller

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Re: Confused over yeast alcohol tolerance
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2016, 08:52:58 PM »
Back in the old days we'd throw champagne yeast in there, but then you'd end up like .995 or something  ;D
Sam
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