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11/14/06 02:00 PM  
"workhorse" strains
I've been searching for a really great general-purpose Belgian strain. For that role I think a strain needs to be a strong attenuator with at least decent flocculation. (Of course it can be worth waiting for some of the slower or more powdery strains to do their job and get out, but that's another question.)

Since taste profile is so subjective, let's leave that out. What strains are most reliable for getting the job done thoroughly and floccing quickly? And what are the worst?

The only really strong and reliable flocculator I've found is WY3522. (But I'd like to know of any others since this one seems too clean-tasting to me.)

The strains that seem slower to finish and flocculate to me are, in order of increasing slowness, WY3787, WY1388, and WY Saison.

Can anyone add to these lists (or dispute them)? I'm especially interested in WY3942, Chimay bottle cultures, and WY1762.

11/14/06 02:40 PM  
Man, 1388 is awesome in my opinion, it ferments strong as hell, attenuates at an amazing rate, and flocs pretty fast in my opinion.

It is my workhorse strain, and as far as taste, crisp, clean, very very low isoamy-acetate

11/14/06 02:48 PM  
Before this thread starts to play out it is worth asking about your yeast handling practices. Do you do anything in your process regarding yeast other than smack the pack, let it swell and pour it in?
11/14/06 02:53 PM  
I always make a stir plate/air injection starter 1 wk before pitching, with continual minimalist nutrition feeding for massive cell counts.

Good point Steve, that probably accounts for our different experiences with 1388

11/14/06 03:49 PM  
I would say that 3522 is my choice, or rather, my strain is cultured out of the La Chouffe bottle, which is supposed to be the WY3522 yeast. What is your fermenting temp? That will be the biggest "decider" of the cleanliness. I've found that I like starting at 65F then ramping up to 75F over a week then holding it there until fermentation is complete. I like it a bit cleaner than most. So if you're looking for an esterier brew try crankin' that baby up to 80F+. That should dirty it up for you.

I also really like the Duvel yeast. Again, out of the bottle, but I belive it's the WY1388. Another work horse that you can control the cleanliness with tempurature.

11/14/06 04:04 PM  
Wow ubriaco - good answer! I used to always either make a starter a good 4 days or more prior or repitch on an active yeast cake. Then I got to know Al better and got spoiled, he passes his yeast off to me. I swear the slurries he hands off could actually eat a pig!

But really, in general I find that this phase of the brewing process is where many brewers go wrong. For the sake of making healthier yeast colonies I recommended reusing the yeast cake to one guy who was asking how to make yeast perform better. He said that was impossible, he like to make so many different styles he needed to use a different pack for every batch. In the end I think his mindset was "I'll do anything I have to as long as it isn't more work and won't alter anything else I do". Not that I'm saying this is the case with you Baums, your question is a very good one. But selecting the right packet of yeast is not where the the answer ends, its where it begins.

11/14/06 04:48 PM  
Completely agreed--a low quality pitch leads to all kinds of problems including poor flocculation. For the record I generally make a 3 qt starter at ~1040 when using liquid yeasts, for 5G of moderate gravity (<1.060) wort. No stir plate, but I keep the starter cap loose, and then tighten and shake twice per day to aerate. In your experience, should that be sufficient to get fast attenuation and flocculation with 1388? It seems to with 3522?

Maybe a better question is this: is there any Belgian strain that attenuates and flocculates slowly, no matter how much healthy yeast you pitch? I would have guessed there is... but perhaps I haven't pitched enough to find out.

By the way, by "fast attenuation and flocculation" I mean that the airlock bubbling is basically over in a week, and the beer has fallen very clear in another 10 days or so.

11/14/06 05:33 PM  
A buddy of mine moonlights in real hush-hush experiments in the fuel ethanol industry, and is a biochemist in a lab that uses S. c. as their model organism. So he is the one that taught me all that I know about growing yeast, Im no expert, but I achive cell densities that likely could eat a pig :)

It is amazing, I agree this is the aspect of brewing that we as homebrewers overlook the most, but success is easily attainable using really simple proceedures.

Baums, your methods would do well with 1388, but one adjustment would be to feed the yeast a low sugar amount twice daily (say 200ml at 1.020, and shake the crap out of it when added), that keeps them aerobic and dividing rather than going fermentative.

Cant answer your second question, but I have used blends with lager yeasts to achieve some crazy results that would give what you describe.

I just had 1388 start in 3 hours, finish bubbling in (oh wow this is tuesday), 5 days, and has already flocced. I roused it 10 minutes ago just to be sure. OG was 1.077.......So I stopped this post and decided to give it a full amount of data, FG right now it 1.014, which is one point lower than I expected it to achieve, and now im drinking it, wow its good.

One of the reasons I use 1388 is b/c it doesnt give a lot of isoamyl-acetate, when my wife was young she had a nosebleed that they had to cotterize (sp?), the artificial odor they gave her to keep her from smelling burning protein was isoamyl-acetate, she cant handle it to this day, so I have some limits to strains if I want her to drink it. I still use other strains, but have to make huge starters, and ferment in the winter months to keep that banana down.

my plight.......

Ross Lunato
11/14/06 09:31 PM  
Workhorse yeast
I think White Labs WLP550 is a great work-horse strain. Good for pales and tripels. Very fruity and clean. Ferments well @ 68*F. Clarifies well too.
11/15/06 10:34 AM  
Wow, that's definitely better than 1388 did in my system. The fact that you get that performance from 1388 proves I didn't pitch enough healthy yeast when I used that strain-- unless there is some other factor confusing things. Obviously there are tons of other factors, but maybe we can narrow them down.

How much total sugar has been fermented when your starter process is over (and what is your batch size)? And what is your initial yeast source?

(I made the starter described above from a new XL smack pack)

Do you add yeast nutrient to your wort? (I do not, since I believe there are enough amino acids in all-malt wort, and that more will lead to higher fusel levels. But I do put nutrient in my starters.)

At what temperature is 1388 achieving this performance for you? (Rising ferment into the low-mid 70s for me--and yeah N8 I should try getting 3522 hotter than that.)

How do you aerate your wort? Do you ferment open or closed?

(I aerate by putting the carboy on its side and shaking it hard for a while. Not the most effective means of getting oxygen in, but my goal with my starter is to build up the yeast membranes to the point that additional oxygen will have minimal benefit--and with most strains at least, I find that I have.)

Do you shake the fermenter, or do something else that keeps CO2 levels low in the fermenting beer? (I don't, for fear of stirring up trub and thus replicating the fusel-inducing currents that commercial brewers fight against in CC tanks.)

11/15/06 11:40 AM  
I have no idea how much sugar has been fermented, although ideally, none. I try to keep the whole thing aerobic at all times, and hopefully all sugar has been consumed. You can tell that you have not gone fermentative by the smell, aerobic yeast should smell like bread (regardless of strain) and fermentative beer yeast should smell like beer.

My initial source was my glycerol stock in the -80C, I took a 10uL aliquot and built it. By the time I took it home and put it on the stirplate/aerator it was a 40mL saturated solution pitched into 200mL of 20g/L sugar, 3g/L yeast extract, 3g/L casein, 3g/L malt extract. From there I used my home starter media which consists of 20g/L sugar, 3g/L malt extract, and 3g/L yeast nutrient. I hit my starter with 50mL of this solution 3-4 times a day for one week. This culture was used on a 5 gallon batch, although when Im doing 10 gallons, I blow it up for a few more days (I usually do 10s, but wanted more variety so I did a 5)

I add nothing to my wort, and I pitch at about 70, and place it in the basement which is about 60, and so with the onset of fermentation it stays at about 70.

I do not aerate my wort. I know that will blow a lot of peoples minds, but I havent done this for about a year now. The only aeration the wort gets is through the strainer as its being poured into the carboy. My cultures are super aerated and there are plenty of cells present that I dont need any extra division. I ferment closed.

I do not shake the fermenter to keep CO2 low, although once I see activity cease in the fermenter, I will rouse the yeast once just to make sure they dont want to chew through another couple of gravity points.

hope that helps narrow it down

11/15/06 11:44 AM  
I should mention that I just started using glycerol stocks at work for my library. My library/source in the past were cultures kept in highly sanitized Ball jars in my fridge from the same protocol of blowing up as described above. The only difference was that I would cold crash my culture and decant before placing in the ball jar for storage.
11/15/06 11:47 AM  
I also agree with Ross 550 is a good workhorse strain, I have used 530 and 550, and I think 550 flocs better
11/15/06 12:52 PM  
Thanks for the info, Ubriaco. Sounds like your feedings totalled ~1600 mL of ~2.3P (and nearly 100% fermentable) solution, for a total of ~37 grams of sugar "consumed."

My 3 qt starter at 10P was made from malt extract with real fermentability 65%, so there were ~195 grams (or a factor of 5X more) consumed sugar.

It sounds like our other procedures are very similar. Barring some major difference in our worts (unlikely), I think we have to conclude that based on yeast performance you must have a larger/more healthy amount of pitching yeast in than I did, despite having fed it 5X less sugar.

And I can buy this. For one thing, your sucrose probably gives better biomass yield than my (mostly) maltose? And for another, if you are really achieving a significant amount of respiration by keeping to <2% sucrose and providing lots of O2, then I agree the yield would go way way up.

Pretty cool to see such a clear example. One question: are you at all concerned that by propagating in sucrose your yeast may over time lose some ability to ferment larger sugars? Sounds like you haven't had any trouble.

11/15/06 01:11 PM  
Im not worried. Those genes still exist, and are just waiting to be turned on when they encounter the right molecule. When yeast encounter simple sugars, it takes less energy to use that source, so it actually stops the organism from using more complex sugars as an energy source even though they may be abundant. When the simple source runs out and encounters the larger chains (as it would in my media with the 3g/L maltose), those genes would turn back on and the maltose transporter and metabolism genes would become active again.

They cannot lose the ability unless something catastrophic occurs.

Darel Matthews
11/16/06 08:20 PM  
I can chime in here on the chimay culture - I cultured a botle of Chimay Red last August for my Dark Strong. It wasn't a huge starter, afer three repitches from the bottle dregs it was about an average-sized starter from a WL tube, maybe a bit bigger. I brewed it last August and stuck it in the basement and forgot about it, racking it once around last Christmas. It took the beer from 1.091 to 1.008 (which didn't actually take a whole year) and the beer is brilliantly clear. It tastes fantastic too - Belgian but not in the typical "Belgian sledgehammer" way.
11/19/06 05:50 PM  
Darel, can I ask you clarify something? I'm not really a bottle culture kinda guy, actually never done it. But what does "three repitches" mean in this contest? You mean you harvested the yeast, fed it then drew off the spent wort and fed it again 3X?
Darel Matthews
11/20/06 09:11 PM  
Steve, my mistake. I drank the bottle, and pitched that sediment into a small starter, like 1 qt. I let it ferment then I boiled up a half gallon starter wort and pitched that on top of what was in there already (for a total of 3/4 gal). I did go back and check my notes after I typed that and I only stepped it up twice, so that was it for 90% ADF.

Sorry for the late reply - I was at a beer festival all weekend!

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