I really like Champagne. I do like other sparking wine, such as Cava (Spanish), Prosecco, and Blanc de Blanc (It’s also a Chardonnay grape like Champagne, but it’s not from Champagne), but true Champagne has a bread/toast thing going on that I love. Needless to say, trying to replicate anything close to that beer-wise was going to be difficult. I may try this again if I fail, and as I type this weeks later since I started this, I already see some improvements I can do.
My main goal for this was to try and get this as dry as possible. Most all wines have a finishing gravity of 1.000 or just under that. Getting a beer that low in gravity is very hard. It’s just the nature of brewers yeast and how they consume maltose, and they also have a hard time surviving and eating in higher alcohol (the main reason trying to bottle condition big beer is really tough).
There are a few ways to try and get a gravity low, and one way is to use a Saison strain (I’ve heard of people getting under 1.005 sometimes post-fermentation). I however didn’t use it this time because frankly I am not a fan of the phenol clove thing Saison’s produce, especially for what I’m trying to do. I also used it once trying something similar, and while I got the gravity slightly below 1.010, that Saison taste and smell was a bit off-putting to me, especially when I was trying to make something that showcased the fruit I put in as well.
Another thing you can do to dry it out is feed the beer during fermentation. The yeast will go to work on glucose first, then get to the rest later. By adding a highly fermentable sugar (like corn sugar, which is glucose) after a few days of fermentation you will have allowed the yeast to get to some of the longer sugars before it burns out on the corn sugar. Putting corn sugar in the last 10 minutes of the boil for IPAs is common, especially double IPAs, but I actually recommend waiting until high krausen.
You could feasibly keep adding sugar and yeast (along with yeast nutrient), and maybe bump it up to 15% in alcohol, but I imagine you are then getting a beer that tastes like 12% rather than the 15%, not getting it below 1.010 like I’m going for. I’m essentially trying to get rid of as much residual sweetness as I can, albeit, it could be a little hot in alcohol.
The last option to try and lower the final gravity is adding Beano. Beano has enzymes in it that can break down the longer chains the yeast can’t get to, which will result in a dryer beer. I think the big commercial breweries use these enzymes to help ferment there yellow fizzy beer. It will also lessen the carbohydrates, so that will help with my fat shitty belly from growing!
This beer is still a work in progress and not done, but let’s go over some of the mistakes I already made:
1. I used US-05 to ferment with. I think I should have used a more high alcohol tolerant strain than US-05. Maybe something like San Diego Super Yeast, which can ferment beer up to 15% in ABV.
2. I didn’t feed the beer properly. I made thick syrupy glob for my feeding addition, which I don’t think was diluted enough for the yeast to work on. There is a better way to do this.
3. I wanted to add some yeast to the secondary to help ferment it even more, but I didn’t add the right yeast, which was WLP005 English Ale. I need to maybe add a Saison strain (cross the fingers) or something like the San Diego Super Yeast, with the later maybe being better as it can handle the high alcohol. I could have added Brett too as that can lower gravity below 1.010, but that comes with Brett flavors that I don’t want. Taking it one step further, I could consider making a little starter and add some of the fermented beer (up to half I’d say even) to the starter so the yeast can acclimate to the harsh environment of the beer it’s about to go into. I’ve heard this works bottle conditioning beer with high acid and/or high ABV.
4. I think my starting OG was a little too high. If I start with a slightly lower OG, I can maybe get it below 1.010 easier, yet still have the ABV I want.
Regardless of the changes I already want to make, I was still able to get this to 1.013 even though I kinda of botched my first feeding addition. As expected, nothing happened when I added the WLP005 to the secondary (along with yeast nutrient and .40 oz of corn sugar boiled then cooled). I am going to add Beano first to see if I can get this lower in FG, then if that doesn’t work, I will try step 3 above with making a little starter.
Once this is where I want it, or close to it, I am planning on adding white wine to the finished beer near bottling. I’m going to start with adding under a 1/5 of the bottle, then add more if it’s needed. The wine I chose is going to be Muscadet, as it’s a bone-dry and light-bodied.
As mentioned earlier, high ABV beer can be hard to bottle condition, so there could be an issue with adding even more alcohol and there being hardly any residual sugar left (especially if I actually get this below 1.010). If I get this drinkable, then for bottling I will do the bottle conditioning method for high ABV beer I mentioned earlier.
Pray for me.
Video of the initial brew day:
Batch Size: 1 Gallon
Est ABV: 12%-ish
Boil Time: 70 Min
3 lbs (88%) – 2-row
3.5 oz (6.5%) – Acid Malt
3.0 oz (5.5%) – Corn Sugar
60 Min @ 148F
.20 oz Celeia @ 60 Minutes
WLP005 English Ale
3/28/17: Added 3 oz of a thick syrupy glob of corn sugar (boiled for 15 minutes then cooled).
4/6/17: Gravity at 1.013.
4/23/17: Transferred to a secondary and added: .4 oz of corn sugar (boiled for 15 minutes, with a pinch of yeast nutrient, then cooled to room temp), and a quarter pack of WLP005.
5/28/17: Added the 125 Milliliters of Muscadet. Made a starter with 15 mil of the fermented beer and 15 mil of fresh wort at about 1.030 gravity and added some WLP011 yeast to the starter. I made this starter based off this podcast from the Brewing Network about acid shock and yeast.
5/31/17: Bottled with .65 oz of priming sugar and the starter.
6/9/17 Tasting notes: