Can I use wine yeast to ferment a beer? What sort of problems might I encounter that are unique to wine yeast trying to ferment malt sugars? What sort of flavor differences might I encounter?
You can use any kind of yeast to ferment a beer, but the problem lies in the results. Wine/champagne yeast fermentents different sugars. In particular, wine yeast doesn't ferment maltotriose, one of the main sugars in beer wort. The result is that you're left with beer that doesn't quite taste like beer. In addition, you may end up with a higher FG.
Apparently, yes. (I've been reading and listening to various things over the last couple of days)
To elaborate on Denny's answer:
- Wine yeasts will not consume maltotriose, so steps must be taken to minimize or break down that particular sugar. You could do that enzymatically, by increasing the ratio of simple to more complex sugars, by splitting your batch and then blending once all fermentation is finished, or by doing a multi-strain pitch. Or you could just live with a sweeter end result.
- Many Wine yeast strains have a Kill Factor. They produce a protein that kills other yeast and bacteria that are in the same must/wort with them. Be sure to check on that if you are doing a multi strain pitch, or planning to bottle condition with a beer yeast.
- Wine yeasts will produce different esters, and you will want to keep that in mind. Pick one that will produce flavors that will work well with the beer that you are brewing.
This beer is made with champagne yeast, and it's really, really tasty.
I've replaced the yeast that came with a beer kit with wine yeast doubled the recommended sugar level and even though it took a month to do its thing the results were dramatic . I love Carlsberg Special Brew and my own brew wipes the floor with it when it comes to alcohol content , taste is o.k. and its a wee bit cloudy but it's very drinkable and leaves one very , very drunk after only 2 or 3 pints