Why do people assume that only Belgian yeasts have interesting flavours? There's a huge diversity in British brewing yeasts, from the subtle phenolics in most Yorkshire yeasts, to the pure banana of Hanlon's. Lost & Grounded have sold saisons that use WLP037 Yorkshire Square...
I will second that assertion. Back when I was posting on this forum as S. Cerevisiae, I was posting on a British forum called Jim's Beer Kit as YeastWhisperer. Those guys turned me on to the cultures from a British brewing organization called Brewlab. I scoured the list for interesting cultures that I was fairly certain were not available in the US and placed an order. First off, Brewlab slants were ginormous compared to what I was used to using for my own bank. Secondly, they opened my eyes to the diversity of brewers yeast in England. For example, I was literally shocked when I used Devon 1. I had never dealt with a British yeast strain that was as POF+ as that strain. I did not know what to make of it. I thought that my culture may have gotten contaminated on the trip across the pond, so I took the slant that I subcultured from the Brewlab slant plated it for singles, selected several colonies that I transferred to different slants, grew each isolate up, and they were all POF+. Sussex 1 was also POF+.
Verdant admit to having used "a generic London Ale III yeast from a bigger yeast bank" when they started but then used a single strain selected from that as their house strain and the general consensus is that the Lallemand product is a descendant of that 1318-like yeast.
I am fairly certain that London Ale III is a single cell isolate. Does the Verdant sub-isolate floc to the top like London Ale III?
They use a pretty traditional British fermentation profile - pitch at 18C, hold at 19C, then with 10 points to go let it free rise to 22C and hold until it passes a VDK test (it does produce a bit of diacetyl but cleans it up), and then cool to 15C for dry hopping.
I used to routinely pitch at 65F (a little more than 18C) and allow my ales to rise to 72F (22C) when I fermented in the basement of the home in which I lived for most of the first 11 years that I brewed. I took a hiatus and when I came back two things were dominant in American amateur brewing; namely, the use of refrigeration to keep ale fermentation temperature on the low to mid-side of the 60s and the use of stir plates. I have created blog entries dispelling amateur-brewer created myth in both areas. I think that what happened while I was away was a big shift toward squeaky clean ale fermentation, which created the heavy use of temperature control to slow replication during the exponential growth stage, which, in turn, reduced growth-related ester and diketone compounds. To me, it felt like American brewers were strangling the life force out of many British cultures. That is why I emphasized that brewers should pick the culture for the job at hand instead of attempting to trick a culture into doing the job at hand.
What got me interested in learning how to brew was the beer produced by a microbrewery called Wild Goose in Cambridge, Maryland. That brewery soon had company from two other Alan Pugsley installed breweries; namely, the Wharf Rat in Baltimore and Arrowhead just over the border in Pennsylvania. All of the breweries were Peter Austin and Partners systems modeled after Peter's Ringwood Brewery. A lot of early amateur brewers on the East Coast were influenced by Alan's Pugsley's work because he built breweries up and down the East Coast, not the least of which was Geary. Beer produced in open fermentation vessels with a multi-strain yeast culture like true Ringwood have a very different flavor profile than the typical West Coast squeaky clean ale. True Ringwood can be a cruel mistress if one is not experienced with multi-strain Yorkshire cultures.
I have a question; namely, what is the average ground water temperature in England? Does it remain under 18C year round? You guys are above the 50th parallel. If the Gulf Stream did not exist, you would experience much colder temperatures.
In the end, I am not attempting to disrespect what American amateur and professional craft brewers have managed to do in just a few decades. However, the trend I am seeing is very one-dimensional. I was in a well-stocked beer store on Friday. There were a lot of different beer styles, but the only beer style in the cooler was a IPA. That is a dangerous trend if it continues because the large industrial brewers excel at producing one type of beer and they can do it at cost that no craft brewer can match, not even big craft brewers like Sierra Nevada.