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Making beer with wine yeast

Just curious - if I used a wine yeast and added enough fermentables, could I end up with a drinkable beer with a 12 - 13 percent alcohol level?

I’m guessing you could, but there are also beer yeasts that have high alcohol tolerances. 12-13% is possible with quite a few ale yeasts. You can go to White Labs website and look at their yeast catalogue. Filter by alcohol tolerance. I used the Dry English Ale yeast and hit 10-11 easily enough.

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And you can do multiple pitches, as long as you have time to build up each subsequenectial yeast to keep the action rolling…. Sneezles61

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There has to be an upper limit though. You can’t ferment whiskey, right? I would think there is a fine point where you switch from increasing the alcohol content to making high alcohol kool aid.

Sure… there is a limit, but depending on the yeast, it can be shockingly high. WLP099 (Super High Gravity Ale Yeast) is said to be able to ferment up to 25%. I don’t know that I’d ever want to try to brew a 25% beer, but hey, looks like it’s possible without breaking the law by doing a distillation.

As for the “high alcohol kool aid,” yeah, the ABV wars can get a little silly. If I were in this for the alcohol content, I’d just buy some cheap hooch. I used to think any beer much over 10% was just showing off, and not really worth it. That being said, there are exceptions. Molotov Cocktail was a tasty beer at 13%.

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I’m not sure I would want to try wine yeast for beer. After all it was really created for wine. If you are shooting for a really high alcohol content making an ice beer might be better. Simply freeze the beer and remove the ice concentrating it. Some breweries have pushed the ABV into the thirties and higher by doing so. You will want to find some way to balance it like making it a really hoppy brew to cover some of the “sherry like” alcohol taste. It may also make carbonating any other way than forcing it in a keg difficult.

Concentrating it is a gray area if it is distilling or not. Don’t advertise it and no one will know anyway. There are plenty of people distilling now days anyway.

The problem with wine yeast is that many strains can only metabolize simple sugars found in fruit juice. So although they may have high alcohol tolerance, some of the more complex sugars in wort, such as maltose, are not fermentable to these strains. You’ll be left with a highly under-attenuated mess.

Some red wine strains are capable of attenuating wort, and have some really interesting ester profiles, but in general it’s not a good idea. As previously mentioned, WLP099 is capable of reaching 25%ABV, and Wyeast’s “eau de vie” strain can handle the low 20’s, so it’s entirely possible to reach these alcohol levels with brewers yeast. Having tried a couple samples of 20%+ beers, though, they are not pleasant. Not something I would want to have beyond a sip or two.

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Ifn you really need to see what a really strong brew tastes like, try scotch. A true Scotch whiskey is a distilled beer. That said, I don’t care much for barley wines, my tastes maxes out with about 8.5, less is better to me, but not below 4%… Sneezles61

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Thanks for all the great ideas. I was just curious. If a few comments had said the idea was great and this is how to do it, I probably would have given it a try. Now I will make another batch of Dead Ringer IPA and settle back to enjoy it.

Best to let beer be beer. Sneezles61

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