Over the past few weeks we’ve been trying to select a yeast that’s going to work across the board here at the brewhouse. You could go all out, all guns blazing and decide ‘Right, that’s the only one I want. Let’s just work with that one. I want it. Let’s get it now’ , or you can be a mature and sensible adult and select from criteria that takes more than ‘I want it’ into account.

When you’re selecting a yeast you should take into account these factors.

  • Flavour
  • Adaptability to beer style
  • Fermentation performance
  • Clean-up performance
  • Flocculation

I’d say looking at them in this order is important too.

The only one that should matter there is flavour. If it doesn’t taste good, don’t put it in your beer.
Thankfully being a homebrewer of a few years has imparted a decent knowledge of what’s out there and what this stuff tastes like to you. I had three in mind before we even began this project and I wanted to throw them into the ring and we all battle their pro’s and cons out together.
We produce a wide range of styles here and use an English ale strain for some of our beers. The problem with it is that it does some beers better than others, and I’ve found that that leans heavily towards our malty beers more than the hoppy ones. We do make hoppy beers but we have to almost fight against the yeast we use to get that hop character in. We want something more versatile.

So here was the shortlist –

Yeast 1 – San Diego Ale Yeast
It’s clean. A fast fermenter and doesn’t interfere with the overall grist or hop recipe too much

Yeast 2 – California V
It’s fruity. A slow fermenter that leaves a really round and little bit sweet beer and works well with the hops.

Yeast 3 – Dry English Ale Yeast
It’s fruity, clears from the beer well and leaves a dry finish although rounder flavour.

The test –
We wanted to put the yeasts through the same conditions as one another to get a grasp on what they provided against one another. In the run-up to the testing Preet, our micro-bioligist, propagated all three yeasts in our lab simultainiously.

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We only wanted enough yeast to ferment 100L of each test batch so this equated to making about 5L of each yeast in starters before hand. We decided that we’d test all three on Cousin Rosie’s Pale Ale as it’s a beer we feel the yeast could really improve and release even more of the hops that we put into it.
We make 2,400L in each brew and usually ferment a batch of 3-4 of these brews when we’re rocking here at the brewery. That’s up to 9,600L fermenting away in each tank when we’re done with our day. Putting it in this context, we decided we’d steal 300L from this to do our test. On brew day, we just took one of our sterile hoses and simply stole 300L, pouring the same wort from the big brewery into three tiny fermenters before closing the valve and sending the rest down into the massive Fermentation vessel. This way everything could be tracked at the same time and we actually had 4 to cross-reference.

More to come…