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05/28/10 04:56 AM  
Wine Yeast in Beer
The subject of using wine yeast for ale fermentation came up in the recent saison thread. So as not to completely hijack that thread, here are some notes on using wine yeast from the Sunday Session podcast w/ Shea Comfort from awhile back. (It's *VERY* well worth the download/listen!)

-Yeast are all classified as killer, neutral, or susceptible. Killer will kill off susceptible, but not neutral. Neutral and susceptible will get along fine.

-All ale yeast are 'susceptible.' Most wine yeasts are killer. That means that wine yeast added to a fermenting ale will kill off the ale yeast already present.

Wine yeast strains are capable of producing some very distinct, interesting fruit aromas and flavors (which is what makes them interesteing candidates for some ales. (More specifics to follow below.)

-Wine yeast, like ale, are strains of Sacch. Cerv. However, wine yeast strains are incapable of fermenting maltotriose. Maltotriose is a grain sugar, and thus is not present in honey/grapes, so it isn't an issue for mead or wine fermentation.

-Shea suggested a few ways to deal with the maltotriose issue. One heavily discussed option was the use of Convertase AG-300 enzyme. This enzyme will break up long chain sugars (including maltotriose) into simple sugars when added in small amounts to the fermenter. The wine yeast is then able to ferment all of it (and will until bone dry.) By splitting a batch into 2 fermenters, one could add ale yeast to one batch and AG-300 & wine yeast to a second smaller batch, then blend later, cold crash the yeast hard, and re-add a strain for bottling (unless you keg of course.) I'd have to check the podcast again for the exact amounts, but I'm pretty sure the suggested amount of Convertase AG-300 to use worked out to around a few ml per 5 gallon batch.

-White wine yeasts generally fall into 2 categories: those that give off apple/pear qualities, and those that give off tropical/citrus.

-Red wine yeasts also fall into two categories: those that give off cherry, and those that give off berry.

Specific strain info:


*susceptible*, white wine yeast, general fruit salad characteristics


*killer*, white wine yeast (this is a standard champagne strain,) relatively neutral with general background winey (meaning grapey, not harsh alcohol)character. The winey qualities make it good for many Belgian-inspired beers. Good for bottle conditioning a finished beer.


*killer*, white wine strain, peaches & stone fruit character.


*killer*, red wine strain, fresh berry notes (Shea suggested this might make it good to use for a kriek or lambic, or possibly as part of a blend for a porter or stout)


*killer*, red wine strain, definite *cherry* flavor. This strain is know for producing BIG body & smooth, round mouthfeel (not from residual sugar as most beer homebrewers think of body/mouthfeel, but from other elements given off by the yeast. Because of this, it will produce big mouthfeel even when fermenting a wort completely dry.)

As a side note on BM-44, a friend recently did a Golden Strong sort of beer and bottled it with this strain. Even just from bottle conditioning there is a VERY VERY present cherry flavor to the beer. It definitely added some cool fruit complexity to it!


*killer*, red wine strain, general berry character.

White wines are usually fermented a a suggest temp range of 55-65F, and reds suggested between 67-85F, depending on the strain. Shea suggested sticking with the normal ale fermentation temperature range when brewing ales. As with ale strains, the higher the temp the more flavor and aroma characteristics you will get from these strains.

05/28/10 10:28 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Not sure if it will help but I brewed a strong brown ale in 2007 using the WLP720 (Sweet Mead/Wine Yeast). The fermentation went fine, though apparent attenuation was a little lower than anticipated. Perhaps having done a cooler mash would have give a better attenuation in line with what I was anticipating but the beer came out to be pretty good and very interesting. The only thing that bothered me with that yeast is that it left a unusual fruitiness that only faded away after 2 years of age. I tasted that same kind of fruitiness on a friend’s scotch ale which he used wine yeast (different strain) to complete fermentation that had stuck with its scottish ale yeast. Not that this characteristic was bad but it was very strong and kind of overpowered the other flavors for a while.

Here is an old thread I started before I brewed the beer…



05/28/10 01:31 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
The overpowering fruitiness is why Shea suggested using wine yeast for only a portion of the batch. Also, the sweet mead yeast tends to underattenuate in general most of the time (thus leaving the mead sweet.) Part of the underattenuation could have also been from the inability to digest maltotriose.
05/28/10 03:28 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
The underattenuation was not that bad after all as I was anticipating a high final gravity anyway. OG was at 1.084 and it finished at 1.032 (62% apparent attenuation). It brought a nice body to the beer. I would be curious to know if the WLP720 strain is a killer yeast. I couldn't find anything on this on the web. Thanks for your reference to this podcast. That was very interesting!


05/30/10 01:36 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Quick correction: I meant BM-45, not BM-44. As far as I know there is no such yeast as BM-44.
05/30/10 04:37 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Where might a person get Convertase AG-300?
05/30/10 06:22 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I had the Northern Brewer store near me in Milwaukee special order it from Crosby & Baker. It took a couple months to arrive.
06/02/10 03:44 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I just pitched some distillers yeast and champagne yeast into a high gravity beer that had been fermenting away nicely with S-05... I also added more sugar at the same time, and gave it a shot of pure O2, but fermentation basically stopped DEAD.

So I'm guessing the distillers/champagne yeast killed off the S-05, yet wasn't strong enough to reproduce/ferment on its own (I pitched 2 rehydrated packs of champagne yeast, plus 1 pack of distillers yeast into 5 gallons, but the abv was already up to 14%).

I'm thinking of making a 1 gallon starter with DME, pitch 2 more packs of champagne yeast, blast it with O2, and then once it is active, dump the entire starter into a new carboy with the big beer.

Does this sound like a good idea? I basically just want to ferment out the simple sugar I added, so another 15-20 points, which would push it close to 17% abv.

Also, does anyone have any experience with distillers yeast in beer? I haven't found much info on it.

06/02/10 11:47 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Talked with a guy that I know that works at the Milwaukee NB and someone special ordered a bottle of the Convertase and never picked it up so I won't have to wait!
06/03/10 01:17 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Mark, I would stay away from distillers yeast, they distill it for a reason, and thats to get rid of all the fusels/methanol etc that it produces

try using some Wyeast Eau de Vie, I used it to make a 21.5% abv impy stout a few months back and it worked great!

06/03/10 11:55 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer

Was the Eau de Vie your only strain used?

06/04/10 11:46 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
No I used a special release from wyeast as well, 9093, which took the beer to a much higher alcohol percentage than wyeast claimed it would, I used it because of the very high AA that many homebrewers were reporting with it (90%+)

Heres a link with the details of the recipe


The beer is still bulk aging in a keg, I plan on bottling off of it soon, I have pulled a few tastes of it though, and its extremely clean

After pitching the eau de vie the gravity dropped again pretty quick (~1wk+) and has stayed stable since

06/05/10 04:37 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer

I don't have an answer about that WLP 720 strain. It is known for quitting pretty darn early though. I tried it in a sweet mead recipe last year with a LOT of honey (don't have exact numbers in front of me.) It finished in the high 1.040s and I had to add a second yeast to finish the job. I wasn't happy with the flavor profile in the end either.


What you say above makes sense. Yeast will usually start with the easiest sugars to digest, and save the more complex ones for later (from what I understand, anyway.) The S-05 would've been capable of digesting the complex malt sugars, but the champagne/distillers' yeast no so much. Another starter of champagne yeast & DME won't do the trick in this case. It'll just leave behind the more complex sugars again. You could try cold-crashing the current yeast out and see if you can get a stronger ale strain to survive again, or add some enzymes to break up the sugars into simpler ones that the yeast can handle. The second option will most likely end up with an extremely dry beer though. A third option would be to add brett to take care of the complex sugars, if you want to go that route.

I haven't found info about brett & wine strains yet, but it seems to me brett must be a neutral strain. It doesn't kill off ale yeast, but it isn't killed off by wine yeasts either (evidenced by brett in some wine.)


My experiment is coming along well. I brewed 6 gallons of a simple wort with pale malt and crystal 40, hopped with some Willamette & EKG I grew last year. I split it into 2 carboys. In the first I pitched WY3711 French Saison yeast (since I have a few spare packs sitting around waiting.) The second carboy has a little over 1.5 gallons, and I pitched BM45 wine yeast. The BM45 stopped fermenting quite awhile before the 3711. I added 1/4ml of Convertase and within 12 hours the beer was churning away again. It has been fermenting several days like this and just now is slowing down again. Once both have stopped, I will taste & blend them into a secondary for a bit before bottling.

06/05/10 10:44 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Thanks guys for all the tips. I think all that remains is simple sugars. Here is some more info:

The base imperial stout was 100% malt - I kept 1 gallon of this as a control, and it fermented out to 1.027 (10.5% abv) with just the S-05.

To the main batch, after 1 week of fermentation, I added 1 lb of barbado molasses and 2.2 lbs of demerera. The S-05 fermented this out to 1.027 as well, and was just a hair under 14% abv (according to hydrometer readings).

After 2 weeks, I added another 2.2 lbs of demerara and the distillers yeast. This is when I hit a wall. So then I pitched some champagne yeast, nothing still. The gravity is around 1.045.

It has now been 3 weeks since brewday. I'm bringing the carboy down to 35F to knock all the yeast out, then I'm going to rack it over to a clean carboy.

I made a 1 gallon DME starter yesterday, pitched a bunch of champagne yeast, added nutrient, and oxygenated the shit out of it. I'm going to let that ferment out, crash the yeast, rack off the spent wort, and then rack 1 gallon of the stuck imperial stout onto the champagne yeast - add more yeast nutrient, oxygenate the crap out of that, and when it (hopefully) gets going, dump it all back into the main carboy.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

06/12/10 04:46 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
If anyone cares, the champagne yeast brought the gravity of my RIS down to 1.028, so about 16.2% abv. Tastes pretty damn good considering it has been just 1 month since brew day.

The eising will now start in a couple weeks...

06/14/10 11:32 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Stuck fermentations, particularly at such a high alcohol content, can really be a pain in the ass. Glad to hear that your method seems to have gotten things rolling again.

Re distiller's yeast I don't have experience with beer, but have used it with a cider recently. The original intent was in fact to distill the end product, but we ended up bottling some after fermentation was complete. This was the Still Sprits Classic Turbo Yeast. I thought the end product was rather underwhelming, flavor-wise. Everything very muted and super-clean as you would expect. We did then partially freeze some of the batch (from 8% to 16% by reducing volume by half) and the results were OK - no off-flavors to speak of, so I guess it did it's job in that regard - and a slight concentration of flavor elements. Still kinda blah, though. I think these yeasts really are only recommendable for actual distillation, IMO.

And you are going to part-freeze this RIS beast? Now that is a scary thought. Hope you package in thimble-sized bottles and take care not to drink around any open flame!

06/14/10 03:39 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I just took sample of my split batch last night. The 3711 French Saison portion finished at 1.002, and the BM45 w/ Convertase finished bone dry at 1.000. The wine yeast portion didn't have nearly as much cherry character as I expected, but I had also just finished putting together a sour cherry melomel and had a sip of the sour cherry juice. I blended the two batches back together and will try it again in a week or so. Even though the fruit flavor and mouthfeel are a bit subdued due to the dryness, I think it'll still complement the spiciness of the 3711 portion.
06/15/10 11:02 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
ErikH: Yes, I am going to eis my big RIS. Then put it in a keg with a new toasted oak spiral and let it sit.

The plan is to bring it out for sampling every April at our club's homebrew competition. Yes, serving sizes would be small, 1-2oz.

Should hopefully be able to get it lab tested too - a local regional brewer tested a couple IPAs for me this year (one of which measured 105 IBUs).

tripel beam
06/16/10 03:12 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I had a beer get stressed during a warmer ferment using GRE. It picked up some dimethyl sulfide and I decided to stop using wine yeasts for a while.

In my experience with wine ferments, whites are much more influenced by yeast strain. Whereas reds I base yeast strain choice on brix, desired temp. of ferment, desired finishing time, and assimable Nitrogen.

For example if the fruit looked like crap I'd probably try to get it off the skins ASAP ie ferment it fast with a vigorous yeast strain. Same goes with minimizing tannin extraction.

White wine yeasts in my experience have worked better with beer. So far I've played around with CY3079, BA11, and LC227.

04/04/11 11:33 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
What would you guys think of this: Take a beer and ferment it out entirely with wine yeast. Then, because it finished higher than normal, take brett and pitch it in.

I am thinking the fruit from the wine yeast and the bret could be interesting in the right beer.

04/05/11 09:34 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Where do Bretts fall on the susceptible/neutral/killer scale? Or is the killer feature only for Sacch yeast on Sacch yeast? I like your idea, but wonder if the Brett will survive a killer wine yeast...
04/05/11 11:55 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I was thinking about this as well. I could always start out with the 71B and general fruit character(something I keep around for fruit wine making). I dont know whether the others would kill brett or not.

The other part of this I was thinking about last night is letting the brett take hold and then pitching in some lacto for souring.

Would the lacto eat the maltotriose left behind?

I could see an english brown ale being an interesting starting point for some cherry character from BM45, followed up by a bit of brett and lacto for depth and a bit of sour. Unconventional, but something I might try out.

Brian S
04/05/11 12:20 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I found the quote from the attached article. The article gives a nice description of the effects different wine yeast will have on syrah, but more pertienent to this thread is this:


The mitochondria of pretty much all wine yeast strains produce a small (100 MW) protein, known as a "killer-", "competitive-" or K-factor, which attaches to the cell wall of another strain of yeast, disrupting the magnesium metabolism and thereby killing the yeast cells of the other strain. About 95 percent of the commercial wine yeast strains produce a K-factor known as "K2" while 5 percent produce the "K1" K-factor. Unfortunately, the K-factor only works within the same genus, so an S. cerevisiae "killer" yeast will not inhibit non-Saccharomyces yeast like Brettanomyces. Nevertheless, commercial K1 yeast strains are useful for restarting stuck fermentations.


04/05/11 01:29 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
That is great to know. Thanks for finding that.

So, that would allow the use of any of them to add fruit character to something that then has brett pitched. It will be really interesting to see the kind of fruit character that one could get out of the fermentation.

04/05/11 08:06 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I fermented a beer with BM45 straight - it finished at 1.022. I'm finishing it off now with some Brett. It's only been less than a month with the Brett so I haven't taken a sample yet. The wait is killing me so I imagine I'll give it a try soon.
04/05/11 11:39 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
What was the base beer, and what strain of Brett did you end up using?
04/06/11 08:58 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Not really sure there is a base style - I attempted an interpretation of Ithaca's Brute so I used a lot of wheat and acidulated malt. For Brett I used white labs wlp645 - B. claussenii.

Details of the recipe an process can be found on a couple of posts on my brew blog if anyone is interested - http://www.brewbybrew.com/search/label/Vaccinium?m=1

Brian S
04/08/11 01:09 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Just to follow up on this, I emailed White Labs re: their Brett brux strain. They replied:

"I checked with our lab folks and they tell me that the WLP650 Brett. Brux. is a "killer neutral" strain so it's not very susceptible to wine yeasts."

04/09/11 04:07 AM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
That makes sense since wineries are quite worried about brett.
04/11/11 06:07 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
Very cool stuff guys. JLem I'd love to hear how your batch turns out.

As far as lacto contribution, I was at a berliner weisse talk on Friday that Jess from Wyeast was giving. For berliners, they typically give lacto a substantial head start (5-7 days) since it just can't compete with saccharomyces. But it doesn't need that much to work with (only drops gravity by ~4 points or so in that time) and should have plenty to work on after a low-attenuating wine strain. It might even be too much to work with depending on what you're going for. I'm not sure if it's working on simple sugars or the maltotriose though, or if there's a killer conflict with the wine yeast.

06/27/11 07:26 PM  
Re: Wine Yeast in Beer
I just brewed a 1.047 saison and pitched 2 rehydrated packages of 71b into 5 gallons of wort, and pulled 1.5L and pitched washed 3711. The idea is that the 71b ferments the simple sugars of the main batch and provides most of the yeast character and I pitch the 3711 starter when the main batch slows to attenuate it down to saison territory and provide a little peppery character.

Anyone have any experience getting the 'fruit salad' character of 71b in beer? I'll try to remember to report back in a few weeks.

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