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I would like to make an IPA that is very bubbly and dry like a champagne. I'm assuming to get it really bubbly I would just bottle with champagne yeast, but to achieve the dryness would I also ferment with it? When you bottle with champagne yeast, do they need to be corked or can I still just cap them? Are there any special tricks when using champagne yeast, or special considerations to be made?

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5 Answers 5

I wouldn't recommend using champagne yeast in beer. It will dry it out completely and will not taste very good. I'm talking a finally gravity of 0.99. Yuck. It will also scrub a lot of the flavor from the beer.

If you did want to do it you would need champagne bottles, corks, a corker, and wire cages.

you could add a tiny bit more sugar to your bottles, but I would reccomend against it. Bottle bombs aren't just messy, they could seriously injure you.

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WLP007 - English Dry Ale - is a pretty clean tasting dry yeast that can handle big batches.

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Also, it's 007. Which is fun. –  hookedonwinter Jan 6 '10 at 17:35

Champagne yeast produces neutral flavors, so it can be useful in bottle conditioning barleywines and other strong ales that have spent months in the fermenter (generally added a few days before bottling), but not good for creating an entire batch in terms of flavor.

If you prefer dry ale yeast, I'd recommend Danstar's Nottingham ale yeast. Very high attenuation, should help you get down to your desired gravity. Flavor can be a little tart, but if the grain bill and hopping rates are high enough I think you can get the results you're looking for. (and I recommend using at least 2 packets per 5 gallon batch)

Controlling carbonation can very hard using priming sugar. I've had batches where I used too much sugar and ended up with bottles that gushed until completely empty--and there was no cure for it once they were bottled.

If you REALLY want to have tight control over your carbonation levels, you could move on to kegging and force carbing. Force carbing allows you total control over the carbonation levels.

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Keep in mind that part of your IPAs flavor depends on the fermentation character you get from the yeast. Even if your using a clean american ale yeast. Its still has a character different that champagne yeast.

Secondly, champagne yeast will have a hard time actually with some of the maltose type sugars I think. So while you'll get fermentation, champagne yeast has really been bred/selected to work on simple grape sugars.

Lastly, getting something really bubbly in the bottle is somewhat tough. If you want it to be as bubbly as champagne you'll need champagne or at least Belgian style bottles. Normal beer bottles can't handle that much pressure safely.

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Thanks for the info on the bottles. I would want it to be really bubbly. I was hoping to get away with capped bottles, but corked makes sense. –  Jordan Jan 6 '10 at 19:29
    
Another option would be to keg the beer if you are set up for that. Then you can carb up to any level of bubbly you want. I suspect you aren't set up for that though otherwise...why ask? Cheers –  brewchez Jan 6 '10 at 19:36

I've used champagne yeast as a bottling yeast for bigger beers, but would not recommend it, as it moves the character of the beer away from the style you are brewing, and sometimes imparts a weird off taste (had that result with an Alt and a Pilsener).

To get a very dry IPA, you can bump-up the O.G. with just plain table sugar, or just bump up the temperature 10F after you've fermented for 10 days to tease out that last little bit. Do not under any circumstances bump the temperature up this far during the first 7 days of fermentation, or you will get a really bad fusel-alcohol tasting beer.

If you want a big bubbly head, just use more priming sugar. Based upon experience, you can use as much as 8 ozs. instead of the standard 5 ozs. without getting bottle bombs. You will get lots of fine bubbles! No corks needed!

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