Author Topic: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?  (Read 1077 times)

Offline nateo

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How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« on: May 23, 2011, 05:58:35 PM »
Has anyone used any of the various German wheat yeasts for non-wheat beers?
How similar are the various wheat strains to other German ale yeasts?

I've never tried fermenting wheat strains cold, and was wondering if you did, if you could make a kolsch or an alt that way. I've never tried fermenting wheat strains under ~65* and wondered how they would behave.

I made a dampfbier recently that was 100% barley, with WB-06 fermented around 65* that turned out really well, and I'm thinking about using wheat strains on other types of beers.
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Offline johnf

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 06:44:57 PM »
Has anyone used any of the various German wheat yeasts for non-wheat beers?
How similar are the various wheat strains to other German ale yeasts?

I've never tried fermenting wheat strains cold, and was wondering if you did, if you could make a kolsch or an alt that way. I've never tried fermenting wheat strains under ~65* and wondered how they would behave.

I made a dampfbier recently that was 100% barley, with WB-06 fermented around 65* that turned out really well, and I'm thinking about using wheat strains on other types of beers.

I tend to use wheat beer yeast under 65 and they still produce lots of esters and phenols, you can't make a clean beer with them.

Urban Chestnut in St. Louis makes some belgian style beers made with German wheat beer yeast.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 07:00:57 PM »
They are not versatile at all. You will always get the banana and/or clove from them no matter what operating temperature you try. You certainly can't make an alt or kolsch with them. The only thing you can make with them are wheat beers or the occasional dampfbier if you are into that sort of thing. You will never get them to ferment cleanly, if that's what you are asking.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 07:06:20 PM »

I've never tried fermenting wheat strains cold, and was wondering if you did, if you could make a kolsch or an alt that way. I've never tried fermenting wheat strains under ~65* and wondered how they would behave.


Also, FWIW a lot of weissbier breweries ferment their wheat beers under 65 degrees. I ferment mine around 62-64 degrees. IME warmer temps lose balance toward the banana.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 10:15:37 PM »
I have a weizen going right now at 62F with 3068.  Blub blub blub.
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Offline euge

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 12:04:00 AM »
The main variables are going to be your choice of malt and hops.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2011, 11:27:16 AM »
I tend to use wheat beer yeast under 65 and they still produce lots of esters and phenols, you can't make a clean beer with them.

Urban Chestnut in St. Louis makes some belgian style beers made with German wheat beer yeast.

I didn't think you could make a "clean" beer with a wheat yeast. I really don't care for "clean" beers at all, and I was wondering what other sorts of beers might be good with the esters/phenols from wheat yeasts. For instance, there are a number of Belgian IPAs around that are pretty estery/phenolic.

I haven't had many Koelschs, or any alts, but the ones I've had didn't seem very clean to me.

I checked out the Urban Chestnut website, but I didn't see any info on their yeasts, and only found one Belgian beer on there. Could you tell me any more about them?

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Offline richardt

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 12:12:14 PM »
I'm about to use a WLP300 for a weizenbock.  I'm getting conflicting recommendations on the ideal fermentation temps. 
Some, like JZ/JP in BCS, say to ferment at 62-63 F, while others say fermenting at 66 F, 68 F, or even 72 F are ideal.

On their website, White Labs states:

"WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast
This famous German yeast is a strain used in the production of traditional, authentic wheat beers. It produces the banana and clove nose traditionally associated with German wheat beers and leaves the desired cloudy look of traditional German wheat beers.
Attenuation: 72-76%
Flocculation: Low
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-72°F
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium"

What say you?

Offline Mark G

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2011, 01:34:08 PM »
I like the results from pitching at 62F better than pitching in the upper 60s.You'll get plenty of banana and clove, and they'll be well-balanced.
Mark Gres

Offline majorvices

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 02:01:05 PM »
I tend to use wheat beer yeast under 65 and they still produce lots of esters and phenols, you can't make a clean beer with them.

Urban Chestnut in St. Louis makes some belgian style beers made with German wheat beer yeast.

I didn't think you could make a "clean" beer with a wheat yeast. I really don't care for "clean" beers at all, and I was wondering what other sorts of beers might be good with the esters/phenols from wheat yeasts. For instance, there are a number of Belgian IPAs around that are pretty estery/phenolic.

I haven't had many Koelschs, or any alts, but the ones I've had didn't seem very clean to me.


I think you are totally missing the point. Wheat beers have a very specific flavor profile. Sure, ale yeasts are not as clean as lager yeasts, but you still want a clean fermenting ale strain to make, say, a west coast IPA or Russian Imperial Stout. Just because a yeast strain is "clean" fermenting doesn't mean the beer doesn;t have tons of flavor - but you also wouldn't want the banana esters and spicey phenols to get in the way of an IPA, Kolsch or Alt (and if you had a kolsch or alt that tasted like bubble gum and clove it was certainly not a very good one!)

The answer to your original question is, as I said, not very versatile at all. I could see maybe getting away with mimicking belgian styles with certain german wheat beer yeasts. But, IME, Belgian style yeast while sharing some characteristics with german Wheat strains have a complexity all their own that weizen strain do not have.

As far as Belgian IPAs go, the esters and clove phenols should be restrained in them. It is very difficult to restrain german Hefewezien strains.

As far as the versatility of german Wheat strains, you pretty much limit yourself to the HefeWeizen family - Dunkle weizen, Crystal Weizen, DoppelWeizen, etc....
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Offline nateo

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2011, 02:23:31 PM »
Major - I guess I phrased my question poorly. I know wheat yeasts have specific flavor profiles. What I'm curious about is if anyone has brewed any non-wheat beers with wheat yeast, and if so, if they tasted good with that specific wheat flavor profile in lieu of whatever yeast character that style traditionally has.

I really couldn't care less if it's "to style" or not if it tastes good. I'm not interested in competitions or anything like that.

I've heard of breweries using 3711 for their "house" strain, and ferment all kinds of beer with it. Now, whether that's a good idea or not is a different issue. Taste is subjective, and all that. (And yes, I know 3711 isn't a wheat yeast, but it's a yeast most people would say is unsuitable for, say, a stout.)

I guess I'll have to do my own experimenting.

EDIT: I know of at least one RIS-style wheat beer:
http://www.haandbryggeriet.net/Darkforce.html
I've never had it, but it sounds good to me.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 02:37:08 PM by nateo »
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Offline jeffy

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2011, 02:29:37 PM »
I wonder what the results would be like if you made a Belgian style wort (Belgian Strong?) and then fermented it with Weizen yeast?  I wonder how much the flavor profile of a Weizen is directly related to the wheat?  I know the Belgian and Wheat yeasts have different types of phenols, but has anybody ever tried this?  Just curious...
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Offline nateo

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2011, 02:46:04 PM »
I wonder what the results would be like if you made a Belgian style wort (Belgian Strong?) and then fermented it with Weizen yeast?  I wonder how much the flavor profile of a Weizen is directly related to the wheat?  I know the Belgian and Wheat yeasts have different types of phenols, but has anybody ever tried this?  Just curious...

As for "how much of the weizen flavor is related to the yeast" I'd say "some-to-most." My dampfbier grist wasn't much different than a Belgian Pale, it was 97% pale malt and 3% Special B for some color. I fermented it with WB-06. I don't think you could confuse it for a wheat beer, but it definitely had a lot of weizen-like yeast character. I'd say it tasted closer to my Patersbier fermented with 3787 than my Hefeweizen with 3068, but I haven't brewed back-to-back batches with the exact same yeast and different grists.

I've also heard people say WB-06 is not particularly "weizen-y" so maybe that yeast is a bad example.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 02:50:50 PM »
Perhaps what threw me off was you asking if you fermented a weizen strain on the cooler side if you could make a kolsch or an alt, both of which do have some yeast esters (kolsch generally more than alt) but are very subdued and more pear and apple like, in the case of kolsch especially. Both are also regularly described as "lager-like". Plus, as I said, I ferment my hefeweizen strain relatively cool. In fact I usually start the fermentation off around 58 degrees or so.

But, to try and partially answer your question I had a beer recently that was a collaboration between Scheider and Brooklyn Brewing called "hopfen weisse" and it was kind of like a "hoppy tripel". It was very tasty. Another beer I have had and made my own version of was a WeizenFest - basically a fest type beer with a wheat beer grist and fermented with a hefeweizen strain. I believe Paulener did this. And of course there is "Aventinus" wheat doppelbock type brew. But, these still all taste like german wheat beers to my palette.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How versatile are German wheat yeasts?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 03:09:34 PM »
Major - It's good to know that the esters don't diminish much with lower temps. I was curious to know if they could behave sort of like other "german ale" yeasts, or if they were totally their own animal. It's been a while since I've used 2565, but I remember a fair amount of fruity/winey/pear-like flavors. When I used WB-06, it reminded me of 2565, but maybe I'm totally wrong. WB-06 seemed to give a much different flavor than the 3068 I'm used to using for Hefes, A lot more apple/pear fruit flavors, and lot less banana and clove. I've heard people say the exact opposite, that their WB-06 was either a clove or banana bomb, so I don't really know. Maybe it's the ferm temps people are using?

I've read that wheat malt is high in ferulic acid, which makes 4VG and clove flavor. I've also read that WB-06 trends more toward clove than banana. Maybe without any wheat malt the WB-06 didn't make much clove or banana, and that's why I could pick up more "other" flavors.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 03:34:29 PM by nateo »
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