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08/26/07 04:16 PM  
Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
All this talk of wine yeast got me thinking about a little issue I have with an experimental brew I made several months ago.

I have an extra high gravity wild beer, which started out with an OG of 1.13(!). Using the WL Super High Gravity ale yeast (which they say can ferment up to 25% ABV) and the Sour blend, primary fermentation got off to a rigurous start. A month or so later I transfered to secondary, and added cantillon dregs. Not too long ago, after 2 1/2 months or so in the secondary, I tasted and checked the gravity. The beer was delicious, and on it's way to being nice and tart. It tastes like pomegranate juice. But, to my dismay, the gravity was still at approx. 1.070 (!!). After taking this first reading I bought another vial of Extra. H. Gr. yeast, made a starter, and then pitched after two days. I let it sit a couple days in the beer and checked the gravity again, still no change in gravity.

I'm thinking red wine yeast might come in handy in order to ferment my beer down to a low gravity. I have never used wine yeast, so I don't know if there are any issues using it in conjunction with beer yeasts/bacterias (I know brett is considered a contaminent in wine) or in a beer that is already 8 % ABV with another 9 % ABV's worth of sugars to go. I'd be happy if got down to 1.04/1.03. From what I've read in recent threads it sounds like wine yeast can withstand high alcohols and contributes minimal character/flavor, which is what I desire from this. If anyone with wine yeast experience could let me know what they think ( or anyone who has some two cents) I'd greatly appreciate it.



08/28/07 08:59 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I have a friend that had under attenuating problem with his Scotch ale. the OG was 1.086 and the fermentation stopped at 1.056. He then pitched dry wine yeast (without making a starter) and the gravity came down to 1.026. I had the chance to taste it recently and it is very good so I would not be afraid to use wine yeast to complete stuck fermentation but would suggest making a starter and add yeast nutrients.

I sent an email to Whitelabs and they recommend using one of the more neutral strains such as WLP730-Chardonnay, WLP740-Merlot or WLP760-Cabernet for beer fermentation. They also suggest the champagne yeast to finish high gravity beers.

Hope it helps!


08/28/07 09:10 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Thanks for the input Francois.

After I wrote the post I went to check the gravity of a another beer and noticed that activity had commenced in the "Mega Sour Brew" from the extra SHG yeast. When I repitched that, it was at the end of a three day cold front so temps in my area were very low. The next day it got very hot again (around 90F) and stayed that way, and I guess the extra yeast I added became more active after warming up.

In another week or two if the gravity still hasn't dropped to where I want I will try one of the wine yeasts you suggested.


08/28/07 10:07 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
While I have never used SHG, those that I know that have used SHG have had poor results. Mostly poor attenuation (stopping early). It seems that yeast is capable of high alcohol ferments, but really needs the incremental feeding. I suspect it has high nutrient and oxygen demands. Maybe this yeast is a good candidate for olive oil.

As far as flavor goes, I remember being unimpressed with the beers I tasted fermented with SHG. I don't recall the actual flavor and aroma profile, but I was definately not to my liking.


08/28/07 10:54 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I read somewhere that Chris White has said that SHG yeast will not ferment maltotriose. (!) Assuming this was not a misunderstanding or something, that means that SHG will never be a great attenuator, no matter what you do with oxygen/nutrients, and you'd need another strain (maybe Nottingham) to take care of the maltotriose.
08/28/07 12:34 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Yes apparently it does need incremental feeding AND oxygenation....

Flavor-wise I am very happy with how it's going. I don't usually use or enjoy english yeasts (they say England is the original source...), but in conjunction with the sour blend and the Cantillon dregs the esters are quite enjoyable. Right now the flavors are reminiscent of sour cherries, pomegranate, and merlot, with woody/earthy/musty notes. Even though the residual sugars are high right now, it was actually very easily drinkable at 8% ABV (flat and warm), and the sourness/complexity of the blend of yeasts actually balances the sweetness. With that said I would still like to finish the beer.

If anyone's ever tried the Abbaye de St. Bon Chien from switzerland (a 15.5% Bier de Garde w/ brett and aged in various types of barrels) this is what inspired me to try making this beer, and so far, the flavors are actually quite close.

It is surprising/dissapointing such a highly alocohol tolerant yeast would so poorly attenuate....

Two days since I last checked and several after adding the extra SHG yeast the airlock is still now bubbling once every 10-20 seconds or so, and I see a bunch of the CO2 bubbles rising to the top of the beer.... so somethings going on now at least.

I'm still curious to try the Red Wine yeast though.....if anyone's ever tried the Cuvee de Tomee, which I was fortunate enough to try on tap once here on the east coast, IMO is almost like a Merlot contaminated by Brett. It was the most wine-like beer I've ever tasted, and it was delicious! The question is whether that character is contributed by possibly a wine yeast or the barrels it was aged in - I'm willing to bet the latter. I'll take another reading in a week or so to figure out exactly how much sugar the extra SHG yeast digested.

08/28/07 01:55 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Baums - What percent of sugars are in the form of maltotriose, say, in one lb. of DME? Is this a by-product of the malting process or from the boil? I'm assuming the primary sugar is maltose, so how much of maltotriose is usually converted in a normal, say, 1.050 OG brew?
08/28/07 01:59 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
"Is this a by-product of the malting process or from the boil?"

I mean the mash, not malting process

08/28/07 02:11 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Ooops, by accident I made an imposter Baums post....the message meant to be directed towards Baums, not posted by Baums....


08/29/07 10:27 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Glucose: a very simple sugar

Maltose: two glucoses joined together (a "disaccharide")

Maltotriose: three glucoses joined together (a "trisaccharide")

Barley starch is mainly chains (or branched chains) of glucose, and mash conditions determine how these chains get cut up into smaller sugars. George Fix gives the following percentages of carbohydrates at various mash temps, for some kind of test mash:

60C 65C 70C

monosacc 10 9 8

disacc 61 55 41

trisacc 9 12 16

dextrins 20 24 35

The real attenuation for a non-trisacc-eating yeast on the 70C mash would be 41+8=49 percent. The apparent attenuation would be roughly 20% higher at 59 percent.

Your beer right now has less than 50% apparent attenuation, so my guess is the non-maltotriose-eating is only part of the reason for the high remaining gravity. More likely, the yeast just ran out of steam. You need a TON of very well-oxygenated yeast to complete a 1.130 fermentation. How much did you use?

08/29/07 01:08 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I know I know...we already had the discussion about my poor aeration practices and the lack of starters in my high gravity beers which have finally come to bite me in the ass....

I originally pitched two vials of WL yeast, one SHG and one Sour Blend. Clearly it was not enough yeast to do the trick.

This is the first time I've ever tried to brew a beer with such a high gravity. With my normal high gravity beers I've never really had an issue with my practices. I figured with twice the yeast I usually pitch including wild strains, and with a little extra aeration (but still not nearly enough), that it would do better than normal. With this it was definitly a mistake not to do extra everything. Also, incremental feeding would have definitly helped.

So...I consider this a learning experience.....

With that said, I'm now trying to fix the problem. The extra SHG which I made a starter for right now seems to be doing the trick, how far it will go I'm not sure. I was talking to a fellow at the local homebrew shop who brews beer and makes wine and he said even if I wanted to use wine yeat it wont attenuate any better than the SHG yeast. He recommended Champagne yeast if that's the route I wanted to go. I'll see how this latest yeast addition works out.

08/29/07 01:29 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Yeah, so of course to fix the problem you need more yeast (lots). If you pick a random wine strain there's a chance it won't ferment maltotriose either (or so they say at Lallemand anyway). A strong dry beer yeast like Nottingham or Coopers or US-05 would be a good bet, like 20 grams rehydrated in 90F water for 10 minutes. That much dry yeast is about the equivalent of a one-gallon starter made with continuous aeration. (And still it may not work--even respected pro breweries sometimes have real trouble restarting stuck super high gravity ferments.) But, I bet you'll get it down a good ways. Good luck.
08/29/07 03:26 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I was thinking dry yeast might be a good option.....I'll try that when I get home from camping this weekend.

Thanks for all the help!

08/29/07 06:50 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I just had a brilliant idea....tonight I will racking a tea beer I made to the secondary. I fermented that with a dry pack of 1056 and aearted VERY well....the beer fermented through very quickly, so there should be a sizeable yeast cake at the bottom filled with healthy cells, I'll pour that into the mega brew as well and see how it works. I'll post my results next week.
08/30/07 10:47 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I hate to keep being contrary--but I'm not sure that's better than using a fresh pack of dry yeast. What you want to avoid, of course, is having the yeast out of sterols or UFAs. Cells in a dry yeast pack are chock full of this stuff and ready to go. Let them ferment a beer, and they will multiply by ~10, but each cell then has ~10X less of the good stuff! The *total* amount of sterols and UFAs is still the same (the aeration would give them some more, but the gains would be limited because dry yeast are generally very highly stocked to begin with). And now, the sterols and UFAs are split out among a bunch of weaker cells, versus concentrated in strong cells.

That said, you've got a cake of yeast that's acclimated to a beer environment and probably has a generation or two left in it--so it may be all you need. And if the tea beer happened to be lowish gravity (say 1.040) then the yeast have even more potential to keep reproducing.

08/30/07 10:50 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I should have said "the aeration of the tea beer batch would have given them some more, but the gains would be limited..."

Aerating the yeast cake at this point, with a little sugar, would restock the whole cake to full levels, and give you a very big and strong batch of yeast.

09/04/07 05:30 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Well....5 days since my last post, and after adding more extra high gravity yeast, as well as extra 1056 from a previous beer, the bubbles are still popping up the air lock in 5-10 second intervals. It appears the extra yeast is still in suspension. Last I checked a week ago the gravity had dropped several points and that was before adding the new 1056. Hopefully that has done the trick! I'll check the gravity in a week or so once the bubbles have stopped....
09/12/07 08:34 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
Only dropped down to 1.060, unfortunately....gonna try the dry yeast, debating whether to do the ale yeasts Baums mentioned or champagne yeast...or, just letting it sit and let the bugs do the work.....oh, decisions decisions....any thoughts on blending such a high alcohol brew with so many fermentables left?
09/13/07 10:03 AM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
I would avoid just letting it sit, because the more it sits the more you give the tired yeast an opportunity to produce excessive solvent, autolyze, etc.
09/13/07 05:00 PM  
Re: Red Wine Yeast w/ High Gravity Sour Beer
well I would transfer off of the spent yeast before I did that, and age it normally like a sour beer....still not a good idea?
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