Author Topic: English yeast for beginners  (Read 2195 times)

Offline gman23

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English yeast for beginners
« on: February 16, 2017, 09:12:03 PM »
Feeling pretty dumb here but looking for some good sensory descriptors for English yeast strains apart from 'estery'. I think I have been afraid to use English yeasts after a couple bad experiences with S04 which I think were related to fermentation temps. Just wanted some back and forth regarding the pros and cons, observations, comparison, etc. No real goals here...

I just kegged a blonde ale fermented with MJ M79 Burton Union and am really pleased with the complexity that it added to this beer. I don't know how to describe exactly what I am getting out of it although I do note the pear esters which are part of the yeast description. There is a particular flavor that is kind of 'minerally' that seems to really affect the malt character, mouthfeel, and finish in a much different way than the yeasts I normally use. I have no idea what it is or how to describe it. I guess it is a combination of things instead of one main factor. This combination is a game changer when compared to a lot of my beers.

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Offline bayareabrewer

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 10:19:32 PM »
Feeling pretty dumb here but looking for some good sensory descriptors for English yeast strains apart from 'estery'. I think I have been afraid to use English yeasts after a couple bad experiences with S04 which I think were related to fermentation temps. Just wanted some back and forth regarding the pros and cons, observations, comparison, etc. No real goals here...

I just kegged a blonde ale fermented with MJ M79 Burton Union and am really pleased with the complexity that it added to this beer. I don't know how to describe exactly what I am getting out of it although I do note the pear esters which are part of the yeast description. There is a particular flavor that is kind of 'minerally' that seems to really affect the malt character, mouthfeel, and finish in a much different way than the yeasts I normally use. I have no idea what it is or how to describe it. I guess it is a combination of things instead of one main factor. This combination is a game changer when compared to a lot of my beers.

I know there are people that like s-04, but I hate the flavor, very weird doughy tart flavor, And I try my best to use dry yeast whenever possible. Glad you like the M79, Its on my list of yeast I want to try. Care to post more specifics re: this beer?

Offline gman23

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 10:27:54 PM »
Feeling pretty dumb here but looking for some good sensory descriptors for English yeast strains apart from 'estery'. I think I have been afraid to use English yeasts after a couple bad experiences with S04 which I think were related to fermentation temps. Just wanted some back and forth regarding the pros and cons, observations, comparison, etc. No real goals here...

I just kegged a blonde ale fermented with MJ M79 Burton Union and am really pleased with the complexity that it added to this beer. I don't know how to describe exactly what I am getting out of it although I do note the pear esters which are part of the yeast description. There is a particular flavor that is kind of 'minerally' that seems to really affect the malt character, mouthfeel, and finish in a much different way than the yeasts I normally use. I have no idea what it is or how to describe it. I guess it is a combination of things instead of one main factor. This combination is a game changer when compared to a lot of my beers.

I know there are people that like s-04, but I hate the flavor, very weird doughy tart flavor, And I try my best to use dry yeast whenever possible. Glad you like the M79, Its on my list of yeast I want to try. Care to post more specifics re: this beer?

I actually find S04 to be quite clean and not very 'Englishy' below 66-67F. Above that is when I noticed issues...

The recent beer is pretty much an American Blonde fermented with M79. It is an old recipe that I tweaked the grain and changed the yeast from US05. I can't recall exactly but it is something like:

45% pilsner
40% pale
10% white wheat
5% honey malt

OG 1.051
FG 1.011 (more attenuation than I was expecting)

~22 IBU
magnum bittering
centennial 10 min

It really reminds me of a commercial beer that I have had a lot of over the years but it is escaping me.

I can't wait to use the M79 again though no idea what I will brew...
« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 10:35:52 PM by goschman »
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Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2017, 02:05:49 AM »
This may be a stretch, but I wonder if it's the impact on attentuation, mouthfeel, hop bitterness, flocculation, etc that make English yeasts what they are rather than what they bring as of esters. I follow ya, but not sure how to help other than mentioning esters and such.

As for S-04, I agree, it can be nice when kept under 66* and with the right recipe. But it is touch and easy to that super bready thing or weird super fruity. I'm surprised to hear about MJ Burton Union yeast, it was taken out of production and renamed. To what, I'm not sure.

Offline stpug

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2017, 02:55:41 AM »
I'm pretty poor with descriptors generated by British yeast strains.  Esters and fruity are my go-to's, which is terrible.  There are others like apple, pear, earthy, estery and fruity :D.  Probably the most unique british yeast strain I've ever used was MJ Burton Union - how about that!!  Probably the most "typical" british yeast strain I've ever used (that most folks hate) is Wyeast's Ringwood Ale strain (even though it's only a single "slice" of what ringwood ale yeast truly is).

Burton Union, to me, brings a woody, earthy thing along with some mild fruit.  It's probably apple or pear like goschman mentioned, but that word just has never popped into my brain when smelling these beers.  The relation must just be absent from my brain - amongst other things.  Great strain; totally unique and very apparent.  That's sad that MJ stopped producing it; it was one of two offering of theirs from a few years ago that I actually liked (the other being West Coast Ale).

Ringwood Ale, by Wyeast, is a full-frontal assault of fruity British esters (almost overripe fruit in a way), but it works really well for me in some beers (low gravity bitters are excellent with RW).  About a year ago I did a best bitter (golden color) using Ringwood and when compared to Bass Ale, it was a dead ringer ;) (puns are fun)

Most other British yeast strains I find to be too ester-less for my liking if it's a estery beer I'm trying to brew.  I've never been to England or had a proper English beer in a proper pub so I've got no basis for comparison, but I've always assumed they must have a signature yeast character at least as prominent as Burton Union or Ringwood Ale - afterall, Bass and Sam Smith beers do.  I've never been overly impressed with 1968 in terms of yeast characteristics, and have not got around to trying 1469 yet (but it see it mentioned quite a bit around various forums).  London ESB (Danstar dry) is a "British" yeast strain that I quite like.  It produces beers (in terms of body and malt character) that other strains haven't been able to do, and it's level of ester contribution is low on my chart (present but low), which makes it a great choice for many beer styles (you just need to devise your recipe with the yeast in mind because it doesn't want to eat anything but the sweetest sweets :D).

Everything I just wrote is all just my opinion of course - I may be wrong (but it'd be the first time :D).  And, I also do not care much for S04 (it's the bready thing for me; makes me want to bake a nice foccacia).
« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 02:57:26 AM by stpug »

Offline gman23

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 03:24:12 AM »
Didn't realize they stopped making it. They responded and said they have replaced it with M36 Liberty Bell which "should" give similar results
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Offline Philbrew

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 03:29:38 AM »
To all of the above...

No (yes), I don't care for s-04.  But you've all said it better than I can.

Yes, I really like MJ M79 Burton Union.  But it's still available.  I recently got a pack from Williams that has a best by date of 03/2018.  And I wouldn't be afraid to use it well past that.  I've also seen talk that the new M36 Liberty Bell is the (maybe) same yeast.

I've tried Lallemand ESB twice and like it.  It seems to have some nice character if you start it out around 60 F and finish ~ 70 F.
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Offline gman23

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 03:39:14 AM »
To all of the above...

No (yes), I don't care for s-04.  But you've all said it better than I can.

Yes, I really like MJ M79 Burton Union.  But it's still available.  I recently got a pack from Williams that has a best by date of 03/2018.  And I wouldn't be afraid to use it well past that.  I've also seen talk that the new M36 Liberty Bell is the (maybe) same yeast.

I've tried Lallemand ESB twice and like it.  It seems to have some nice character if you start it out around 60 F and finish ~ 70 F.

That's another one that has been on my radar. What have you used it in and what kind of attenuation did you get?

Just looked and liberty bell has pretty much the exact same detailed description as burton union so I can only assume it's the same.
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2017, 04:26:24 AM »
I just finished a keg of British Golden Ale made with WLP041 Pacific Ale which is actually recommended for British ales and is said to be more fruity than WLP002. The esters are really apparent in the Golden Ale since their is not much else to compete flavor wise. I think the esters have bubblegum and chewy orange candy flavors.  Sounds weird but I really like that beer. I also think the beer had a much fuller mouth feel that the same beer with US05 would have.

The beer had a medium dose of Amarillo (0.6 oz in 3 gallon batch) added in the last 5 minutes of the boil. That affects the favor, too.

PS. I like the MJ Burton Ale yeast also.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2017, 04:30:26 AM »
To all of the above...

No (yes), I don't care for s-04.  But you've all said it better than I can.

Yes, I really like MJ M79 Burton Union.  But it's still available.  I recently got a pack from Williams that has a best by date of 03/2018.  And I wouldn't be afraid to use it well past that.  I've also seen talk that the new M36 Liberty Bell is the (maybe) same yeast.

I've tried Lallemand ESB twice and like it.  It seems to have some nice character if you start it out around 60 F and finish ~ 70 F.

That's another one that has been on my radar. What have you used it in and what kind of attenuation did you get?
Assume you mean the ESB, both were in an English Bitters.  The first finished at 1.015 but I goofed and mashed at 156F.  It's reported to be Fullers and doesn't eat maltrios much.  The second batch I mashed at 151 F and the ESB took it down to 1.009.  By the way, it's super aggressive.  Both batches went from SG to FG in three days.
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Offline skyler

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 05:00:57 PM »
One thing about English yeast - it is used in a ton of American beer, too. Firestone Walker and Deschutes are both widely-distributed American breweries that use English yeast as their primary strain. There are countless others. Still, some breweries use "American" yeasts to produce "English" styles of beers. English yeasts typically are less dry and more flocculant than American yeast strains and, when fermented at their best temperature (some like it colder than others), they tend to produce subtle yeast-driven aromas. They may also impact mouthfeel, but this could be from the unfermented sugars.

In England most of the top breweries aren't making super-yeast-driven peach-bubblegum-banana bombs. That homebrew we all made when we started that was 1.060+ OG, amber, opaque, and tasted like banana bread had about as much in common with the "ESB" style that we were shooting for as a contemporary India Pale Ale has with Kingfisher Beer.

That said, should you choose an English yeast strain, read what the yeast company says about the fermentation temperature and start at the low end of their recommendation or even a little lower, as the yeast-driven flavors can be exaggerated at the homebrew level. For S-04, Fermentis recommends 59-68F and I would strongly recommend 56-62F. Every time I taste a nasty English beer where someone blames S-04, I ask them and they indicate that they did not keep the fermentation temperature under 64F. Usually these brewers are used to fermenting US-05 or Nottingham at ~68 F and having "no problem," so they assume that S-04 has the same requirements when it doesn't. I am a major S-04 advocate as I like very much that I can ferment with it as cold as 54F and that no D-rest is needed when fermented in the high 50's to low 60's. Many yeast strains (Ringwood) need both a cool fermentation and a warm D-rest to produce great beer.

Additionally, if you are choosing a known low-attenuating strain, try using 5% simple sugar - I usually use dextrose, but plain table sugar works fine. I understand the temptation to mash super low (~148F) instead, but sugar is what the English use and it is more reliable, IME, than ultra-low-temperature mashing.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 05:08:53 PM by skyler »

Offline gman23

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 05:08:01 PM »
Very helpful. Thank you. I have know that some of my favorite breweries which you mention use English strains

My worry with the M79 was that it would be too expressive for me so I did run it on the lower end of the suggest temperature range. Time to start exploring some more yeast. It's fun but daunting...
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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 01:58:01 AM »
.. I'm surprised to hear about MJ Burton Union yeast, it was taken out of production and renamed. To what, I'm not sure.

I received this note from MJ June '16: "They are different but have been chosen as replacements because of their similar profile/behaviour.

So you will get the same result if you use the replacement yeast e.g. M07 British Ale = M42 New World Strong Ale, M79 Burton Union = M36 Liberty Bell"




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Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 02:42:54 AM »
.. I'm surprised to hear about MJ Burton Union yeast, it was taken out of production and renamed. To what, I'm not sure.

I received this note from MJ June '16: "They are different but have been chosen as replacements because of their similar profile/behaviour.

So you will get the same result if you use the replacement yeast e.g. M07 British Ale = M42 New World Strong Ale, M79 Burton Union = M36 Liberty Bell"




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Thanks for sharing. The Burton Union was on my list to try so now I can I at least try the replacement. Up next might be a Bitter with Danstar ESB dry yeast. I am looming forward to checking that one out.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: English yeast for beginners
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 03:03:29 PM »
That said, should you choose an English yeast strain, read what the yeast company says about the fermentation temperature and start at the low end of their recommendation or even a little lower, as the yeast-driven flavors can be exaggerated at the homebrew level. For S-04, Fermentis recommends 59-68F and I would strongly recommend 56-62F. Every time I taste a nasty English beer where someone blames S-04, I ask them and they indicate that they did not keep the fermentation temperature under 64F. Usually these brewers are used to fermenting US-05 or Nottingham at ~68 F and having "no problem," so they assume that S-04 has the same requirements when it doesn't. I am a major S-04 advocate as I like very much that I can ferment with it as cold as 54F and that no D-rest is needed when fermented in the high 50's to low 60's. Many yeast strains (Ringwood) need both a cool fermentation and a warm D-rest to produce great beer.

That's interesting, I have never heard much about using S-04 that low. I have always advised using it around 64* because I have had better results at those temps than anything higher, but I have never used it near 60* I'm interested to do so, are you pitching extra yeast to use it in the mid to high 50's? What is the character at those temps?