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White Labs Lager Yeast Tasting

Posted by zVulture on 3/17/2016 at 11:13:58 PM


Living in San Diego where White Labs is located has been a great boon to my beer making. These guys offer four or five flights of four beers each with a different yeast. Each flight is made using the same base beer which makes it amazing to compare notes to each variety being used. That being said, the same elements used could impact the potential output of these flavors but it is a far greater insight into the elements that a yeast add to beer. Upon suggestion by an /r/homebrewing member when discussing yeasts, I am now 'sacrificing' myself to drink and review the yeasts. This is very subjective, I am not BJCP certified and not trained in judging beers so the words I use to describe them are my own. Feel free to correct or add input to the information I have here if you have experience with these yeasts.

Todays subject: Lager Yeasts - Pilsner Base

WLP802 Czeck Budejovice Lager

White Labs Description - Pilsner lager yeast from Southern Czech Republic. Produces dry and crisp lagers, with low diacetyl production.
Aroma: Light almost peach or apricot, very light plastic that I attribute to belgian types
Taste: Clean, light esters but no noticeable type which helps counter the very dry finish.
Personal Ideas: Dry summer lager with a lemon slice, could see soft or very light fruit additions or even just tiny bit of smoked malt. I wouldn't want to do much as the beer wouldn't hide any extra additions. But that makes it amazing for a single addition of something else to make it the new focus. I don't think I would enjoy a lot of it by itself, but I am easily bored.

WLP830 German Lager

White Labs Description - This yeast is one of the most widely used lager yeasts in the world. Very malty and clean, great for all German lagers, pilsner, oktoberfest, and marzen.
Aroma: More malty aroma, maybe a tiny lick of esters but nothing strong enough to identify.
Taste: Like the aroma, there is definitely more malt character to the beer and it finishes smooth. No dry bite yet nothing to compliment the finish as it just fades off.
Personal Ideas: Good for malty lagers like Marzen or similar with a bit of crystal to add some complexity to the finish. The taste is too...muddled to try and add something to it for experimentation. You would need to overpower the base beer with this yeast and that would become the new style. I could see this more for fall or winter lagers rather than spring/summer where dry and refreshing is beneficial. Also it would be good to experiment with different kinds of base malts as a lager SMASH.

WLP862 Cry Havoc Yeast

White Labs Description - Licensed from Charlie Papazian, this strain can ferment at ale and lager temperatures, allowing brewers to produce diverse beer styles. The recipes in both Papazian's books, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and The Homebrewers Companion, were originally developed and brewed with this yeast.
Aroma: Neutral, very light ester almost bubblegum like.
Taste: Clean, neutral just like the aroma was. Dryer yet not quite so much as the 802, definitely a nice little bite there. Shows some malt character but doesn't showcase it enough to be a focus.
Personal Ideas: The beer was very bland by the base, but that's where spices come into play. More 'normal' being the hops as if this was loaded with citrus or fruity aroma hops it would be quite enjoyable to drink. Add in some orange peel, ginger or other earthy spice and it would come out quite interesting. Otherwise not quite so impressed as the previous two.

WLP940 Mexican Lager

White Labs Description - From Mexico City, this yeast produces clean lager beer, with a crisp finish. Good for Mexican style light lagers, as well as dark lagers. This is one of the best lager strains in the White Labs yeast bank; try it with any lager.
Aroma: There is a more earthy yet light esters to this aroma that I can't quite place. Likely shows my lack in experience with my terrible sense of smell.
Taste: Smooth, lightly malty and lightly dry yet not really much bite. This beer seems to find a balance in those elements to make a pleasant combination.
Personal Ideas: Cream Ales would actually benefit from this type of lager base. The flaked malts would help accentuate the smoothness yet the dryer finish would help accentuate any hops to make the drinker go back for more. I might use this next time in my Vanilla Cream Ale or try to use very subtle additions like roasted red bell pepper or mango.

Bonus: Frankenstout

The tasting room had a special bottling release party for their Frankenstout, 2nd Generation. This is the beer that blends 96 types of yeast and they have run for a few generations. While this yeast blend isn't available for purchase, I wanted to give a quick review of the blend. Because I wanted the mug and it came with a free pint anyway!

White Labs Description - Born in the lab and brought to life by 96 yeast strains! This beer celebrates our genome sequencing collaboration project and answers the question, “What would happen if we pitched 96 different yeast strains into one beer?”
Aroma: Smooth roasty and just a light acidity or acridness that isn't unpleasent.
Taste: Definitely the roast and maltiness are forward but the recipe used was picked well to keep the base beer sensory elements simple. Outside of that there is quite an interesting mix of elements left over. I get a lot of belgian style notes at first, the light plasticity and esters that come from that. Yet it drops straight into the malty dry finish without waiting. A bit of a one two punch that lulls you in for the easy drinking and follows through with a roundhouse. Quite the roasted bitter bite to it with such a dry clean finish that accentuates the bitterness even further. The later almost makes me think the lager yeasts take over that end of the spectrum. Tag on just a little booziness that I attribute to it being 9.6% and it's quite a fighter.
If I could ever get ahold of it, ideas for using: Something sweet like a caramel red ale that doesn't use roasted malts or high bitter hops. The super dry finish would make those caramel tastes pop all the more while letting the smooth tasty start of the beer take the lead. Instead of a bit of a fight, this would lead into a dance. Take that and then add to a bourbon barrel or use bourbon oak cubes but only lightly. This would then take it to a three step, multi-layered beer that would make for an amazing sipping beer.

If there is enough interest, I will be continuing this series and going with the different flights from White Labs.

Steven, otherwise known as zVulture on reddit or in games, is a homebrewer with two years and counting under the belt. Ambitious enough to think he can work his way up to opening his own brewery but knows he has a lot to learn. Beyond having fun doing experimental homebrewing to such an end, he enjoys learning and using old techniques, useful or not, to make beer. "[We] are only concerned with giving homebrewers accurate information based on our own experience in the hope that they will find the information useful and employ it to make their own homebrewing hobby more fun and rewarding. Because that’s what it’s all about– fun. If you’re stressing over homebrewing, you’re doing something wrong." - Denny Conn

Tags for this post: White Labs, Yeast, Tasting Notes

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