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Halting fermentation with...bourbon?

I have a very high gravity beer that’s been fermenting for about 4 months. The idea was to get a very high alcohol content. I used champagne yeast and have read subsequently that the recipe will probably keep fermenting for a year or more and end up dry and bitter (and that I should have used a high gravity yeast instead). The recipe was basically 12 pounds of malt extract, 3 pounds of crystal malt, and about 9 ounces of hops. At any rate here’s the question:

Instead of waiting forever for the fermentation to subside, at which point there might be no sweetness left and I’m left with basically a dry, hopped wine… what about slowing down fermentation by adding distilled spirits like bourbon? The alcohol content would rise, fermentation would stop and I wouldn’t have to worry about every last bit of sugar being consumed. An added bonus would be that I would save time. Possibly I could do this slowly and therefore not “shock” the yeast…allowing it to slow down to a crawl so I could maybe still condition in the bottles. I’m not worried about this not being “real beer” anymore or the high alcohol content…that was the idea already.

I’m thinking of doing this but wondering how this would be compared to the older idea of just adding a non fermentable sugar like lactose when fermentation subsides.

With 12 lbs of extract and three lbs of crystal, you don’t really need to worry about it finishing too dry - it’ll be very sweet no matter how long you wait.

But for your original question - if you were to raise the ABV high enough to keep the yeast from fermenting any more sugar, there’s no way you can bottle-condition.

I guess I was looking to slow down the fermentation and not stop it completely. I threw in a pint of bourbon yesterday and now I get a bubble every 3 or 4 minutes. I tasted it and it tasted pretty good with a strong kick. I’m thinking possibly bottling it, waiting a few days to get a nice fizz, and then throwing everything in the fridge to avoid bottle bomb/champagne syndrome. From now on I think I’m sticking with beer yeasts, though.

Good idea.
I’ve gotten up to 12-13% abv in the few instances where I’ve needed to with regular beer yeasts.

Really though, once you get up past a certain point, are you really even making beer? And those higher abv brews need plenty of aging time to smooth out.

Champagne yeast is just more tolerant to alcohol than some beer yeasts, it’s not magically going to keep fermenting away. Check your gravity, then check again in a couple of days, and I bet it’s stable at around 1.035-1.040 given all the unfermentable sugar in the wort. Once you have constant readings, you can prime as usual and bottle, but it will probably take a while for it to carbonate with the high ABV and tired yeast.

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