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Thread: Alcohol Tolerance in a Braggot

  1. #1
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    Alcohol Tolerance in a Braggot

    Hello Hive Mind!

    I have a question about a Braggot I'm formulating a recipe for. What I'm hoping for is about a 60/40 Barley/Honey ratio. The highest % of honey I've ever used before is 25%, so I'm worried about several issues from feeding (will I need to treat a beer with this much honey the way I would a standard Mead? - nutrition/enzyme-wise? I've never done this, obviously), to predicting F.G., to yeast health because of high gravity.

    My plan right now is to make a wort that is around 1.100.
    50% Vienna Malt, 10% other barley malt, and 40% local honey.
    I'm going to hop it at FW, and again at 10 minutes to F.O., to about 30 IBUs.
    For yeast I'm planning on a blend of one Ale Yeast (WYeast 1450 - Denny's Fav. 50), one Mead Yeast (WYeast 4184 - Sweet Mead), and one Wine Yeast (WYeast 4783 - Sweet White).

    My biggest question is on the yeast. Temperature-wise, everything should be alright. I'm going to ferment at about 67F, and give it all the time it needs. Eventually, it will be going into (twice already used by me) Bourbon Barrels for about 6 months. I'm not sure what attenuation I should be expecting. I'm assuming pretty close to complete, no? If that's the case, the ABV will be above the level that will kill both the Ale and the Mead Yeasts, but the Wine Yeast will be fine. Will I be causing any trouble to the Braggot by killing off the less tolerant yeast via ABV production? Normally when I transfer into barrels I skip cold crashing in order to have active yeast in the barrels, but in this case, should I cold crash to get out all the yeast, and then repitch with more of the Wine Yeast for barrel aging? The other beers I'll have used in the barrel previously will all be intolerant to this level of alcohol, so they won't help on their own (and I'm not planning on any brett or other barrel strains).

    Also, I'm debating whether to add all my honey in the whirlpool, or to feed 50% of the total honey after several days of fermentation, to give the yeasts (especially the Ale and Mead strains) a chance to have more influence over the product. Also - if I'm feeding it again, should I consider giving it a little additional O2, or leave well enough alone?

    I know this is a lot of questions, but I'm out in new territory, and there isn't a lot of good info about Braggots out there that I've been able to find.

    Thank you so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by blonberg View Post
    Hello Hive Mind!

    I have a question about a Braggot I'm formulating a recipe for. What I'm hoping for is about a 60/40 Barley/Honey ratio. The highest % of honey I've ever used before is 25%, so I'm worried about several issues from feeding (will I need to treat a beer with this much honey the way I would a standard Mead? - nutrition/enzyme-wise? I've never done this, obviously), to predicting F.G., to yeast health because of high gravity.

    My plan right now is to make a wort that is around 1.100.
    50% Vienna Malt, 10% other barley malt, and 40% local honey.
    I'm going to hop it at FW, and again at 10 minutes to F.O., to about 30 IBUs.
    For yeast I'm planning on a blend of one Ale Yeast (WYeast 1450 - Denny's Fav. 50), one Mead Yeast (WYeast 4184 - Sweet Mead), and one Wine Yeast (WYeast 4783 - Sweet White).

    My biggest question is on the yeast. Temperature-wise, everything should be alright. I'm going to ferment at about 67F, and give it all the time it needs. Eventually, it will be going into (twice already used by me) Bourbon Barrels for about 6 months. I'm not sure what attenuation I should be expecting. I'm assuming pretty close to complete, no? If that's the case, the ABV will be above the level that will kill both the Ale and the Mead Yeasts, but the Wine Yeast will be fine. Will I be causing any trouble to the Braggot by killing off the less tolerant yeast via ABV production? Normally when I transfer into barrels I skip cold crashing in order to have active yeast in the barrels, but in this case, should I cold crash to get out all the yeast, and then repitch with more of the Wine Yeast for barrel aging? The other beers I'll have used in the barrel previously will all be intolerant to this level of alcohol, so they won't help on their own (and I'm not planning on any brett or other barrel strains).

    Also, I'm debating whether to add all my honey in the whirlpool, or to feed 50% of the total honey after several days of fermentation, to give the yeasts (especially the Ale and Mead strains) a chance to have more influence over the product. Also - if I'm feeding it again, should I consider giving it a little additional O2, or leave well enough alone?

    I know this is a lot of questions, but I'm out in new territory, and there isn't a lot of good info about Braggots out there that I've been able to find.

    Thank you so much in advance!
    We are a Cidery and Meadery and plan on doing a Braggot. I can't see your beer yeast having any trouble eating through the sugars in the honey (82% sugar or so), especially combined with a grain. I recently made a co-fermented coffee mead (1.062 S.G.) and used nothing other than go-ferm and a white whine yeast. There were no signs of trouble or off aromas so I did not add any nutrients.

    Typically these are added at 1/3 sugar break so you can play it by ear.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2019
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    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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    How did your Braggot turn out? I wouldn't recommend cold crashing to remove the beer yeast, they are likely more tolerant than you think.

    I would be careful though about blending wine yeast with beer yeast as many wine yeasts produce a killer factor that will inhibit sensitive strains (most brewing strains are sensitive). I couldn't find on the Wyeast website if these strains are killer or not. I'm curious, why did you decide to blend these particular strains?

    As AmbrosiaOrchard mentioned, adding nutrients after 1/3 sugar depletion is a good idea. Go-Ferm is a great option, but I would suggest that you use Fermaid O as well.
    Lallemand is a global leader in the development, production and marketing of yeast, bacteria and specialty ingredients.

  4. #4
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    I haven't brewed the Braggot quite yet. I'm shooting for the end of May at this point, based on my usage and barrel availability.

    Originally I chose the beer yeast because I like the rich mouthfeel that the beer leaves, while also doing a great job with attenuation. I add this strain to my house strain, or a Scottish strain I occasionally use, to make sure the resulting attenuation on really big beers is where I want it, while still leaving enough mouthfeel. I find it plays well with others, even though I'm often left underwhelmed with it fermenting on its own.

    As far as the mead and wine strains, I knew I was going to need something a little tougher than the beer yeast to handle the abv, and when I started planning I thought it would be 'fun' to have one of each. Maybe too kitchen sink, I grant you. I chose the mead strain because it would leave a little residual sugar, and the wine strain because it is the strain suggested for use in Riesling - both a varietal I enjoy, but also one that comes with a lot of honey notes in late harvest examples, which I thought would work well in a mead (and also one that will leave the residual sugar). All of these yeasts fermented at similar temps, and at similar rates, so I thought it a good fit.

    I spoke with Candi from WYeast, and she was very helpful. I'm still doing a blend, but the yeasts chosen are a little different:

    3711 French Saison
    4783 Sweet White
    4242 Fruity White

    She thought it a bad idea to use the 1450, but that using a beer yeast was essential for what I was going for. One of her suggestions was the 3711 - my go-to Saison yeast and also one with a very pleasing mouthfeel despite great attenuation - though I was worried that it would be too characteristic (it is a tough and fierce yeast strain). She said if I kept it cold, it wouldn't express as strongly as I'm used to, and if I were to combine it with the 4242 (which kicks sugar's ass even harder than the 3711 evidently), I would have more of a classic Braggot taste with some interesting stuff in there. The 4783 will be a good finisher - slow, but very characteristic, works well with honey specifically, and is often blended with 4242 (which acts faster, but doesn't give as much character).

    She also strongly recommended cold crashing before transfer into barrels because both the 3711 (diastaticus) and the Fruity white will eat and eat over time and leave the beer very dry, where I'm hoping for a little residual sweetness.

  5. #5
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    Question

    As far as feeding the yeast... my original plan was to use my standard Yeastex 82 in the boil. Candi seemed to think that would be sufficient. Do you think I need to do more? Add some more during the fermentation? If so, just boil it up in some H2O and add straight into the fermenter?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by blonberg View Post
    I haven't brewed the Braggot quite yet. I'm shooting for the end of May at this point, based on my usage and barrel availability.

    Originally I chose the beer yeast because I like the rich mouthfeel that the beer leaves, while also doing a great job with attenuation. I add this strain to my house strain, or a Scottish strain I occasionally use, to make sure the resulting attenuation on really big beers is where I want it, while still leaving enough mouthfeel. I find it plays well with others, even though I'm often left underwhelmed with it fermenting on its own.

    As far as the mead and wine strains, I knew I was going to need something a little tougher than the beer yeast to handle the abv, and when I started planning I thought it would be 'fun' to have one of each. Maybe too kitchen sink, I grant you. I chose the mead strain because it would leave a little residual sugar, and the wine strain because it is the strain suggested for use in Riesling - both a varietal I enjoy, but also one that comes with a lot of honey notes in late harvest examples, which I thought would work well in a mead (and also one that will leave the residual sugar). All of these yeasts fermented at similar temps, and at similar rates, so I thought it a good fit.

    I spoke with Candi from WYeast, and she was very helpful. I'm still doing a blend, but the yeasts chosen are a little different:

    3711 French Saison
    4783 Sweet White
    4242 Fruity White

    She thought it a bad idea to use the 1450, but that using a beer yeast was essential for what I was going for. One of her suggestions was the 3711 - my go-to Saison yeast and also one with a very pleasing mouthfeel despite great attenuation - though I was worried that it would be too characteristic (it is a tough and fierce yeast strain). She said if I kept it cold, it wouldn't express as strongly as I'm used to, and if I were to combine it with the 4242 (which kicks sugar's ass even harder than the 3711 evidently), I would have more of a classic Braggot taste with some interesting stuff in there. The 4783 will be a good finisher - slow, but very characteristic, works well with honey specifically, and is often blended with 4242 (which acts faster, but doesn't give as much character).

    She also strongly recommended cold crashing before transfer into barrels because both the 3711 (diastaticus) and the Fruity white will eat and eat over time and leave the beer very dry, where I'm hoping for a little residual sweetness.
    I'm not sure I understand the reasons for blending these three strains. If you have a diastaticus strain, you will have a tough time keeping any sweetness. The enzyme that breaks down dextrins (glucoamylase) produced by diastaticus strains is secreted into the beer, so it will be present even if filtered. It is also heat stable, so will survive pasteurization as well. Unless you ferment to completion, you are risking overcarbonating your braggot if fermentation picks up again after you package. Adding honey already tends to dry out your fermentation since it is 100% fermentable.

    Have you considered using only maltotriose negative strains? This way you could ferment to completion and still leave behind some body. Windsor would be a good example. This is a very robust strain and highly tolerant to high gravity. For beer wort, it maintains attenuation in the mid-60's even up to OG 30'P (SG 1.129). Since you are using honey, your apparent attenuation should be even higher. Dry yeast also has the advantage of not requiring aeration for standard wort fermentations... you should still aerate for such a high gravity ferment, but by using dry yeast you are less likely to suffer from oxygen limitation, which can be a problem for high gravity fermentation.
    Lallemand is a global leader in the development, production and marketing of yeast, bacteria and specialty ingredients.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lallemand Eric View Post
    I'm not sure I understand the reasons for blending these three strains. If you have a diastaticus strain, you will have a tough time keeping any sweetness. The enzyme that breaks down dextrins (glucoamylase) produced by diastaticus strains is secreted into the beer, so it will be present even if filtered. It is also heat stable, so will survive pasteurization as well. Unless you ferment to completion, you are risking overcarbonating your braggot if fermentation picks up again after you package. Adding honey already tends to dry out your fermentation since it is 100% fermentable.

    Have you considered using only maltotriose negative strains? This way you could ferment to completion and still leave behind some body. Windsor would be a good example. This is a very robust strain and highly tolerant to high gravity. For beer wort, it maintains attenuation in the mid-60's even up to OG 30'P (SG 1.129). Since you are using honey, your apparent attenuation should be even higher. Dry yeast also has the advantage of not requiring aeration for standard wort fermentations... you should still aerate for such a high gravity ferment, but by using dry yeast you are less likely to suffer from oxygen limitation, which can be a problem for high gravity fermentation.
    Well Eric, Thanks sincerely for all the help. I honestly didn't know about the fact that d.-strain yeast makes an enzyme that continues fermentation. On my end, it wouldn't affect packaging too much, as it will be spending somewhere between 6-12 months in barrel before being kegged, but it is something to consider, for sure. I am simplifying my order, because I'm obviously getting ahead of myself. I'm sticking with the Sweet White 4783 strain - the Riesling strain - which are the characteristics I want most, and I'm going to call it a day. I'm also not going to crash, and allow the yeast to stay with the Braggot the whole aging process in barrels.

    Thank you for all your help. I think this is going to greatly help my plan (it is always good to get your aspirations checked by the more experienced before you start).

  8. #8
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    I think you made the right call by keeping it simple and using only a single yeast strain. Post back after you have brewed it, I would be interested to know how it turns out.
    Lallemand is a global leader in the development, production and marketing of yeast, bacteria and specialty ingredients.

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