5 Yeast Strains For Brewing High Gravity Beers

Yeast for Brewing High Gravity BeerWhen brewing high gravity beers (i.e. high alcohol beers), the beer yeast needs to work a little harder to convert the extra sugar into alcohol. Not all beer yeast strains are cut out for the job. Some get tired, some can’t handle the extra booze. (Sounds like some people I know!)
Here are five beer yeast strains to consider using when brewing high gravity beers.

High Gravity Yeast Strains

  • Wyeast 3787: Liquid Beer Yeast: Trappist High Gravity – Wyeast 3787 is great for brewing high gravity Belgian style beers such as Dubbels, Tripels, and Belgian Strong Ales. This beer yeast strain tolerates alcohol content up to 11-12% ABV or higher and produces the fruity flavors and aromas characteristic of Belgian ales.
  • Red Star Pasteur Champagne Yeast – When going where a normal high gravity beer yeast won’t (say, higher than 12% ABV), a champagne or wine yeast can help reach those higher levels of alcohol content. If going for a super high gravity beer, pitch a standard beer yeast strain for the primary fermentation, then add more fermentable ingredients, such as simple syrup or dissolved candi sugar, along with a pack of champagne yeast during secondary fermentation to achieve that higher alcohol content.

Tips for Brewing High Gravity Beers

  • As important (if not more so) than picking the right beer yeast strain, is pitching enough healthy yeast to completely ferment the wort. A beer yeast starter will help ensure that there are enough yeast cells to get the job done. Use a yeast pitch calculator to figure out how many packets of yeast or the volume of yeast starter you need.Shop Nutrients
  • Also use yeast nutrient and be sure to aerate the wort well prior to pitching the beer yeast.
  • If you’re trying to get above ~10-12% alcohol by volume, consider adding more fermentable ingredients to the secondary fermenter, combined with an additional yeast pitch using a different yeast strain.

Are you brewing high gravity beers? What tips do you have for achieving a higher alcohol content?
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

0 thoughts on “5 Yeast Strains For Brewing High Gravity Beers

  1. Hi E.C, thanx for the tips on High Gravity Beers.
    I have the DIY Brewdog Imperial Stout (16 % ABV)in my fermenter.
    OG is 1.125
    Starter size was restricted to 2.2 L because of the flask I used. Yeast was Wyeast 1272
    Fermentation went well but is slowing down. Gravity is down to ca. 1.080 after 6 days, but still very sweet. I doubt I will get to FG which is ment to be 1.020.
    Should I repitch some Wyeast 1272 (make a starter)or Safale US 05 to help lower the graivity?
    Why should adding some more fermentables help in fermentation. I should think, that there are enough sugars and nutrients in the beer.?
    Thanx a lot and cheers

    • Hi Michel,
      The first thing I would do is make sure the wort is not too cool. This can cause a fermentation to slow down dramatically or even stop completely. If your fermentation temperature is below 70° F, I would try warming it up a little, first. If your wort is not too cool, then you may have to consider re-pitching with new yeast. But, only if the fermentation is not doing anything at all. If the fermentation is just being slow, I would prefer patience in this situation. Even if it took 4 or 5 months to ferment, there is really nothing lost. Such a hefty beer will need to age a bit anyway. It can age just as well while fermenting as it can sitting still.