Add Champagne Yeast when racking a high abv beer?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Brewer #335694, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. Brewer #335694

    Brewer #335694 New Member

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    Hi all,
    I made a HIGH gravity stout (started at 31 brix!) about three weeks ago. It's finally finished primary fermentation and clocking in at ~14%. It was 2 gallons that I split into two 1-gallon carboys (so I could add coffee and vanilla to one). For yeast, I used the Lallemand Windsor ale yeast (from their "premium" line). I actually put a half a packet in each carboy. So a pretty heavy overpitch. My question is...do I need to transfer to a bottling bucket and mix in some champagne yeast to help with carbonation of the bottles? Or do you think there is still enough residual yeast leftover from fermentation that they'll get what they need? This stout turned out really nice so I am paranoid to add an extra step into the process by using a bottling bucket. I have been transferring straight to bottles/mini keg from these small batch carboys for a year now and have zero issues doing that. But this beer is by far my highest abv monster. Thanks.
     
  2. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    If you look at the specs, the Windsor yeast has an ABV tolerance of about 12%. You are pushing past this. So while there are plenty of yeast still floating around to carbonate, I think the primary question is whether they are healthy enough.

    One concern I would have with adding champagne yeast is whether fermentation is complete or whether fermentation has stopped due to yeast quitting at high ABV. If the yeast have quit and there are more fermentables, you could potentially provide the champagne yeast too much carbonation fuel. I would hate to explode some fine tasting beer.

    The best solution I can think of is to add champagne yeast first to verify complete fermentation and then bottle.

    Maybe some of the other readers can chime in and see if they have any other methods of determining if fermentable sugars are still present.
     
  3. naDinMN

    naDinMN Member

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    The first question in my mind, is what is your gravity at right now? Most Champagne yeast can tolerate 18% ABV +/-. If your stout is at 12-14% and there is still a lot of fermentables, you'll end up with some bombs.

    My general rule when brewing beers like yours is to move into secondary and pitch my new strain of yeast. In this case the champagne. Give it another 1-3 months to wait for the gravity to be consistent.

    My other personal best practice is any beer that has an ABV above 8% and/or has sat for more than one month after primary , I always pitch a fresh yeast at bottling. In your case, it would be another.

    On a personal note. I've got a 24% Stout aging right now. Brewed it on Christmas eve and fermented it to 14%. I pitched fresh champagne yeast and then fed it LME every week for about a month. I just wanted to do something to commemorate the ending of 2020.
     
  4. Brewer #335694

    Brewer #335694 New Member

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    24%! That is a rare beer where I couldn’t only drink one if I had it.
     
  5. Brewer #335694

    Brewer #335694 New Member

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    I bottled it without any additional yeast. Let’s see what happens. Tasted good flat anyway when I sipped on the leftovers. I’ll play the fates!
     

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