Re: Which US beer has the highest alcohol content?

Concepts like "species" have limited utility with microorganisms, especially ones that have undergone centuries of selection for specific human purposes. Brewer's yeast, baker's yeast, wine yeast, and the yeast growing on that apple core you threw onto your compost pile last week are all called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but they may be as genetically distant from each other as you and your dog.
It is extreme. Back when the record was in the 18-20% range, I'm pretty sure it was just achieved by adaptive selection on existing alcohol-tolerant yeast strains. I don't know if they just continued to select for even higher alcohol tolerance, or if they've pulled off some even sneakier trick. I don't think they could legally get away with distillation or fortification, though.
Me too.
Reply to
Jon Binkley
In article , snipped-for-privacy@fafner.stanford.edu (Jon
Trust me, the above is wrong. All strains of S. cerevisiae, while different, are genetically no more different from each other than an average Stanford student from your average Sorbonne student. The concept of spiecies, while abstract and complex, is of great and clear utility for microorganisms.
Yeah, I do not really believe it was fortified. Rather, I tend to think that 26% is the result of some sort of inaccuracy while perhaps 20-22% may possibly be achieved through selection and some specific growth conditions (perhaps colder temps and longer fermentation at very high sugar concentration?). Alcohols at high concentrations have direct and very detrimental effects on building blocks of every living cell. In real laboratory life, 20-25% ethanol is generally considered to be sterilizing (e.g. any solution with concentration that high will not support fungal (yeasts) and bacterial growth).
DK
Reply to
D.K.
Hmmm, interesting. I'll side with Binkley, though.
The current batch of Sam Adams Utopias measures at a miniscule hair over 25% abv. Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout last fall came in after lab analysis at 23.04%, with last year's batch of Utopias at 24% and a bit of change. Yeasts, they are a-changing. Lots and lots of high-tech and not-generally-available developments in yeast over the past 5 years or so. Don't feel too bad, only a few people really have access to these little buggers.
Reply to
Andrew D. Ager
Was the Utopia(s) drinkable? Or even affordable? I suspect the Dogfish Head will be both. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
Um, Jon works with microorganisms on a daily basis in his lab. IIRC he got his PhD in yeast-related stuff. He knows his stuff. I'll trust him, thank you very much.
I just some schlub rather than a yeast researcher, but I recall in the recent past some sort of super-yeast has been marketed even on the homebrew level. Could that beast get a 26% alcohol level? I dunno, but if one were interested one good poke around a bit. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
Though I know one guy working in a food lab that was experimenting with different yeast varieties, including brewer's yeasts, to see what, if any, flavor results they had in the production of breading (for things like fried chicken, etc.). I never did hear any results from his tinkerings. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
in news:DYDKa.20738$ snipped-for-privacy@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu:
The Utopias was ludicrously expensive, but I've heard decent things about it at least. I'm worried about DFH WWS 26, personally. The 23, while still good, didn't measure up to the 18 (which was very FG). Based on the extensive data I have available (abv went higher once and it wasn't as good), the 26 will again not be as yummy.
Reply to
Dan Iwerks
In article ,
Not quite, Bucky. Humans only vary on average by about 1/2000 base pairs across the genome. Genetically well-behaved wild isolates of cerevisiae can vary more than 20-times that amount--not dog-human-levels of difference (pardon my hyperbole), but pretty damned high. And brewing, baking, and wine-fermenting strains are notoriously ill-behaved, genetically speaking, with all sorts of gross chromosomal rearrangements and aneuploidy going on, on top of high polymorphism rates. Many (most?) of them can't even sporulate or mate any more, as they have been selected for their specific tasks and propagated non-sexually. Their classification as "cerevisiae" is based on functional criteria--mainly which sugars they can ferment--rather than sexual.
It is of clear utility as far as it is defined for and applied to those microorganisms. The point was that it's defined and applied differently to those microorganisms than it is to the organisms more familiar to casual readers of Usenet beer groups.
You might be right, but I would think that if they're actually claiming some specific percentage on a label (which are pretty strictly regulated) then they've done something more accurate than comparing before/after specific gravities. It can be measured accurately, after all, and certainly BBC has the capacity to do it.
I really don't know, but a lot can be achieved through the awesome power of selection.
A cursory scan of Medline reveals that alcohol tolerance is linked to membrane lipid composition, which suggest to me that the tolerant bugs are better at excluding alcohol from the fiddly bits of the cell in the first place, rather than the fiddly bits themselves being somehow different. Can they go as high as 26%? I don't know, but I wouldn't bet against it.
Reply to
Jon Binkley

As a dyed in the wool hater of the triple bock, I must say the Utopias was quite tasty. Sweet but balanced and vaguely beer like (as much as can be expected). Not exactly affordable though. It just showed up here in Wichita, KS at around $130 for those fancy "copper brew kettle" containers.
Reply to
Daniel McConnell
Utopias: as drinkable as Triple Bock (with which it had a great deal of commonality), and as affordable as high-grade Colombian mumble-mumble.
Won't be able to assess the WWS for about a month and a half, when it's more likely to be available in my home market.
Reply to
DGS
In article ,
Yeah, it was mostly your gross hyperbole that freaked me out - dogs have a lot more chromosomes, and never, under any circumstances can mate and give progeny with humans. Comparing % variability between mammals and microorganisms is not fair due to higher degree of tolerance in bugs (they need very little to survive in the lab; supposedly, efforts in creating "minimal" E.coli genome resulted in conclusion that it can be chopped off nearly in half).
All sorts of criteria apply to spieces - one of them is habitat. A number of fungi species became pure asexual during evolution, too. Problem with the artificial selection as opposed to the natural one is that all kind of monstrous mutants are kept alive. No purebred dog can surivive in the wild (but given a chance for a real selection, even dogs can indeed produce new quasi-spiecies (dingo?). A more straightforward analogy is with stable cell lines - they are all screwed up royally, but no matter how strongly they differ from their parent, mouse cells are still mouse, humans cells are still human - they antigens are basically the same, and they are not able to produce new speices no matter what (in real life in reasonable amounts of time). As for yeasts, I am sure it would take little time to "back select" any given two strains to make them mate. Also, AFAIR, most non-lab isolates are still capable of mating.
But this is getting OT and I am sure we understand each other!
Yep. And on the cell wall properties as well. (I read about some bugs that were found to slowly divide in 70% DMSO solutions - can you imagine it?).
Obviously, it is only my gut feeling, I can't exclude this possibility. My point was that achieving this remarkable feat would require massive and coordinated rearangements of very basic metabolic pathways (like, no matter how hard and long you continue to select, you never going to get pigs that fly like birds). To me, achieving might only be possible by creating all new species (pardon for contradicting myself here - that is intentional). I'd still bet on "no 26% EtOH from yeasts".
DK
Reply to
D.K.

I don't bloody get it. Dogfish Head is competing in strength with a brew that few are going lay their hard earned money down for and apparently, their product, which *is* quite affordable, suffers big time each time the stakes are raised and is probably losing loyal customers of this brew.
I gotta shake my head folks....rattle rattle...
Best regards, Bill
Reply to
Bill Becker
"D.K." wrote in message
But of course, this being USENET you'll never say, "Oh. Guess you WERE right."
Huh. Obviously you've never seen "The Incredible Journey."
Thank God there's two of you that do.
Yes (although DMSO is some NASTY shit), but God forbid you should actually agree and say, "Hey, Binkster, you might be right after I bluntly dissed you as an idiot."
And that's where you should have stopped blathering.
But we're not really talking about pigs flying. That sounds like hyperbole to me. What we're talking about is, oh, say, pigs grunting REALLY loudly. Pigs already grunt, we could just select for the loudest grunters. Bet we could get some REALLY loud grunters. But they wouldn't fly. That would be redickyulous.
How much money you want to put on that, Sparky?
Gunther
Reply to
Gunther Prien
But of course, if I were thinking he was, I'd say so. The thing is, not single genetisist considers some artificially bred variety to be new spiecies.
Yes, I haven't. What's it all about?
See above. To avoid to be "dissed as an idiot" (your words, not mine) one needs to be careful with statements such as equiating laboratory mutant with another species (particularly the one that has different number of unique chromosomes).
Thank you for your thoughful advice. May I continue now?
In this case, analogy, to be precise.
Uh, I don't know. A case of beer? One thing though - it has to be S. cerevisiae, not some other yeasts. I see now someone mentioning S. carlsbergensis used in brewing. I did not even now that. There are of course yeast spiecies that are more resistant to ethanol than S. cerevisiae. Remember, my original question (which you seem to be inclined to turn into pissing contest for some reason) was simply "how the hell is such a beer made"? I still have not seen an answer beyond "oh, there ARE these special yeasts and processes". Maybe you can provide the real answer?
DK
Reply to
D.K.
Just a joke. A Disney movie from the 50s or 60s about three housepets trekking miles through the wilderness to find their owners. Domesticated dogs, surviving in the wild. Like I said, just a joke.
Actually, I think I'm making a cogent point here, albeit somewhat rudely. You admit it's "only your gut feeling." You offered nothing to solidly back it up. Yet when you are presented with a variety of other statements, you simply dismiss them with a wave of your chromosomes.
Over-precision is the retreat of the pointless. I used the word "hyperbole" because you had, earlier. And, in classic USENET fashion, you belittle my point with your pointless over-precision, and then neatly avoid addressing it. Getting yeast from producing 20% ABV beer to producing 26% ABV beer is NOT the same as getting solidly grounded pigs to fly like birds. It's a matter of degree.
I'm not surprised. Yeast taxonomy in brewing is a highly subjective field, fraught with disagreement. It is NOT agreed that S. cerevisiae is the only "beer yeast," for example, nor that S. carlsbergensis is indeed a different species. So why should you get to make ex post facto rules like this?
Ah. The reason would be your high and mighty attitude.
What answer do you want? The malt is mashed. Wort is extracted and boiled. Hops are added. The wort is cooled, and yeast is added. The beer ferments over a long period of time. Sugar is added during the fermentation. When fermentation is complete, the beer is coarsely filtered and packaged. That is extrapolation on my part; it's how the 24% beer was made. I know. I saw it happen. I saw a lab analysis sheet on the finished beer.
That's an answer. I'm sure it is not satisfactory to you. Why don't you tell us exactly what WOULD be a satisfactory answer, so we can get that information for you? Do you want yeast taxonomy? Do you want formulation? Do you want fermentation temperatures? Do you want lab analysis of the beer for % ABV? Bearing in mind that some of this info is probably proprietary and the brewery might not want to reveal it, why would you believe anything we told you? After all, it's USENET, not a court of law. We could just make stuff up. If I tell you that the brewer of this 26% beer gave me the yeast info, gave me a copy of the analysis, took me in the fermentation hall and showed me the beer working...would you believe me? Because if you wouldn't, I'll be damned if I'm going to bother digging that up just to have you dismiss it...again.
So. Ball's in your court. Where do we go from here?
Reply to
Gunther Prien
Not to answer your question, but wasn't it fairly recently that the whole "carlsbergensis" thing came up? In my early days as a homebrewing it was all considered S. cerevisiae.
That last bit is where it departs from standard brewing practices, though in homebrewing circles (at least) it's not an unknown technique, especially for things like mead.
I don't know about balls, but I want to hear more about those super-grunter pigs. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
In article ,
Umm, 'cause my original doubt originated (among other things) from the fact that I assumed only S. cerevisiae are used in beer making. Which I indicated in the original post explicitely. I know you don't want to understand it, but you I trust you should be able to.
Jeez, can you just relax a bit? You'll feel better. Thanks for entertaining me with the generic outline of beer making. As a curious biochemist and someone who enjoys beer but has never made one, I'd like to know:
- The type of assay used to determine % ethanol - Are some "special" strains of yeasts used? (E.g., not typically used for "normal" beers) - Fermentation temperature and typical times - Any other _essential_ features that make it possible. (Like, I assume, lots of extra sugars is; anything else?)
DK
BTW, please be as rude as possible - this certainly makes me inclined to believe you more than I ordinarily would.
Reply to
D.K.
In article ,
The other way around, actually. S. carlsbergenesis was the first brewing yeast isolated in pure culture (from the Carlsberg brewery, hence the name) over 100 years ago. Recently, it has been determined using molecular biology that it is, for the most part, descended from S. cerevisiae, with one errant chromosome it picked up from the closely related S. bayanus (I think, my memory ain't what it used to be). IOW, it was considered a separate species, but now some (not all) consider it a cerevisiae variant.
Reply to
Jon Binkley

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