BVC - Alcohol tolerence of yeast

Mills, Scott Scott.Mills at
Wed Oct 6 14:23:08 PDT 1999

I am going to cross-posy my reply to the SCA_BREW list since their may be
people over their who can help or who may have assembled a list already.  My
apologies to those who get the message twice.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Niewoehner, Hugh
> I'm trying to put together a list of different yeasts and their
> characteristics.  Specifically flavor factors and alcohol 
> tolerence.  Has
> anybody come across something similar?  Or, have you tried 
> running different
> yeasts until they quit?  
> Damon

Most yeast providers don't really give to the alcohol tolerance of their
Lager and Ale yeast but do give you the alcohol tolerance of their Wine

The characteristics of beer yeast are usually only listed with 1) a flavor
profile, 2) Flocculation characterics, 3) ideal temperature range, and 4)
Apparent attenuation.  You can usually find this information on any yeast
that is available commercially from the vendors web site or in your favorite
homebrew supply catalog.

Do not be fooled into thinking that you can associate attenuation with
alcohol tolerance.  At first you might think that the two would be closely
related but that isn't so. 

Most beer yeast are going to stop somewhere in the 8 - 12% range.  However,
most of them can be pushed beyond that if you treat them right.  Just make
sure that you start everything perfectly with good nutrients, good aeration,
and a good starter then take it cool, slow and easy.   If you feed the yeast
a little bit more sugar gradually as it begins to die down you can often
boost the alcohol beyond what the yeast would normally tolerate.

Many high alcohol beers are started with a beer yeast to get the desired
flavor profile and then finished with a wine or champagne yeast that has a
neutral profile and a high alcohol tolerance.  This is also true of many
sparkling wines that undergo a primary fermentation with a selected yeast to
get the desired flavor and then bottled with a champagne yeast to finish the
For wine yeast you will often see descriptors such as 1) Sensory Effect, 2)
Temperature Range,  3) Fermentation Speed, 3) Competitive Factor, and 4)
alcohol tolerance.  Almost always alcohol tolerance is listed with wine

"Sensory Effect" are obviously just other words for "Flavor Profile".  I
like the term "Sensory Effect" much better.  "Fermentation Speed" is
something I would like expressed more often.  It is somewhat akin to
"Apparent Attenuation" and while apparent attenuation is a much more precise
measurement "Fermentation Speed" is certainly easier for the average person
to understand.

For more information on yeast go to;

White Labs  (great yeast  I highly recommend their products)

Wyeast Labs

Lallemand (makers of Danstar and Lalvin Yeasts)

Yeast Culture Kit Company


The NCYC Brewing Strains Collection

the B.U.Z.Z. Yeast Bank  (good links to other sites)

The Yeast FAQ



Scott Mills	 
Scott.Mills at Compaq.Com 
Go to to perform mailing list tasks.

More information about the BVC mailing list