Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yeast Inventory

While cleaning out my brewing area I set aside all of the empty yeast vials that I accumulated over the years. Although I've thrown away many more vials than I've saved and as a standard practice I use a lot of US-05 dry yeast, never the less, the remaining collection revealed some telling statistics about my brewing habits.

The first and obvious is how often I brew wheat beers and my preference for Whitelabs hefeweizen yeast WLP300. As you can tell from the picture below, I have far more empty vials of that yeast then any other. I use it for my standard German hefe and also a dunkelweizen recipe that I brew without changes at this point. Besides the great flavor I get from this yeast, I've discovered over time that fermenting with it at low ale temperatures (low 60's f. in this case) has a considerably influence in increasing the amount of phenols in the finished beer, a flavor component that I really enjoy.

Empty vials of Whitelabs yeast
The other clear indicator from my stack of vials is how often I attempt to brew classic English style ales. I've gone through a number of those type of yeast on multiple occasions trying to find that perfect combination of fruity ester by products, malt dominance and great flocculation. Some I like better than others but they all contribute an unacceptable level of diacetyl for my tastes. But all those trials led me to try the WLP013 London ale yeast on the last couple of beers I brewed. An ESB and most recently an Irish red ale. The WLP013 came through with the esters, malt presence and excellent clarity and with the added reward of being a very low diacetyl contributor. Finally, I've discovered my 'go-to' English ale yeast.

As I spent some time peeling the labels off of these vials to send in to Whitelabs to redeem for some free yeast I remembered back to when I first started brewing. My brewing buddy and I would try to save some money on yeast by salvaging from previous batches.  The funny thing was that we tried to put the salvaged yeast back in those tiny tubes to re-pitch! I don't know what we were thinking. Now, I save yeast in wide mouth mason jars or juice jars and dump the entire content into the fresh wort for the new batch.

Easy to pitch, salvaged English ale yeast

Also revealing but not surprising is how few lager yeasts I've gone through. With high temperatures here where I live in California and the fact that I'm gone to Mexico in the Winter prevents me from fermenting too many lagers at proper lager temperatures. But, I still try to get a few lagers brewed in November before we head south for the Winter. I reluctantly leave them to lay up for several months in the kegs waiting for my return.

Another favorite beer of mine is the classic Belgian tripel and I use the WLP500 for that purpose but for the most part I'm brewing American pale ales, IPA's and Imperial IPA's and for those I pitch dry yeast, Safale US-05 which is like the work horse of ale yeasts. It gets the job done with good attenuation, moderate flocculation and a clean finish.

As the Fall approaches, I'm gathering what I need to brew in Mexico this year and I'll be taking a couple different types of liquid yeast. Chances are I'll stow away some of my favorites and hope they don't get to warm on the trip south. I'm also planning to culture some Belgian yeast from bottles of imports that I can get pretty easily in San Miguel and of course I'll bring a fist full of US-05 to get the job done.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...