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White Labs Wheat Ale Yeast Tasting

Posted by zVulture on 4/01/2016 at 12:09:42 AM


This is a continuation of the White Labs yeast tasting series. While the name needed to be kept short it isn't literally tasting yeast. They have a tasting room at their local facility which serves flights of the same base beer fermented with different yeasts. It gives a great perspective into how these yeasts are different though there might be better ways to draw the flavor from each. This time, I am going to cover the Wheat Beer flight! Though note I am running these by request and have bias on these yeasts due to my research on making my own Dunkelweizen. Still, I will keep mostly impartial to their strengths as best I can.

Todays subject: Wheat Ale Yeasts - Hefeweizen Base

From left to right, WLP080 - WLP300 - WLP320 - WLP351

WLP080 Cream Ale Yeast Blend

White Labs Description - This is a blend of ale and lager yeast strains. The strains work together to create a clean, crisp, light American lager style ale. A pleasing estery aroma may be perceived from the ale yeast contribution. Hop flavors and bitterness are slightly subdued. Slight sulfur will be produced during fermentation, from the lager yeast.
Aroma: Very light ester with a light acidity with an almost nail polish finish though not unpleasant.
Taste: Lightly dry, clean almost lager like profile closer to the pilsners. Very light body makes it a refreshing beer.
Personal Ideas: This would be a nice base for a low ABV hoppy wheat ale (Session White IPA or Hoppy American Wheat) though I would likely try to dry it out even further with the more citrus hops. If I was matching expectations for a wheat beer, even if it is a cream ale yeast, I would slide toward using more flaked wheat in the bill in order to bring out a more wheat mouthfeel and flavor without impacting the dryness as much as crystal malts or mashing higher would.

WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - This famous German yeast is a strain used in the production of traditional, authentic wheat beers. It produces the banana and clove notes traditionally associated with German wheat beers and leaves the desired cloudy look of traditional German wheat beers.
Aroma: Light banana with an almost light hint of diacetyl, almost no clove aroma that comes with lighter temp fermentation.
Taste: Fuller mouthfeel, sweeter and more malty than the cream ale. Likely finished at a higher FG for the first two but the yeast still promotes the maltier tastes well for a beer 50% wheat at least. Banana esters likely help the sweetness and on the stronger side backing up the thought of a warmer fermentation.
Personal Ideas: Ferment warmer around 72F in a nut brown to get a nice banana but brown recipe, the esters and possibly light diacetyl would promote those flavors all the more. Ferment colder during winter months to make more clove based spiced beers. Toss some cinnamon into a Dunkelweizen and you would make a nice warming beer. I have plenty of other ideas around this blending with WLP510 but that is covered in earlier blog posts.

WLP320 American Hefeweizen Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - This yeast is used to produce the Oregon style American Hefeweizen. Unlike WLP300, this yeast produces a very slight amount of the banana and clove notes. It produces some sulfur, but is otherwise a clean fermenting yeast, which does not flocculate well, producing a cloudy beer.
Aroma: Very light aroma of an unknown ester, almost neutral.
Taste: Yeasty, not dry or full mouthfeel so a bit balanced though I would almost call muddled. Ester taste could be closer to traditional bubblegum flavor like Bazooka Joe. Not sweet or strong but there for sure and likely could be promoted as much as hidden by fermentation process.
Personal Ideas: This yeast is very flexible to warmer fermentation temperatures. I started with this early on in my brewing process using this yeast with just 7 lb of wheat extract and liberty hops, letting it rip without fermentation control. Pounding in different fruit after 1 week to let it finish in the 2nd week. Outside that, it is almost more beneficial to make a white pale ale with a different yeast instead of a hoppy american heff. Though this has potential in it other aspects, I have always considered it a second class citizen to WLP300.

WLP351 Bavarian Weizen Yeast

White Labs Description - Former Yeast Lab W51 yeast strain, acquired from Dan McConnell. The description originally used by Yeast Lab still fits: "This strain produces a classic German-style wheat beer, with moderately high, spicy, phenolic overtones reminiscent of cloves."
Aroma: More attuned to Belgian styles with the light plastic aroma (again not bad) and nothing else.
Taste: Dryer finish than the 300 or 320 though still holding onto the fuller mouthfeel. Not quite as malty but not clean either. It reminds me of the Cry Havoc from before that it doesn't have much focus but the wheat base helps prop it up a bit better.
Personal Ideas: The description doesn't really fit the taste but it might be interesting with a wheat Dubbel or Trippel with the cleaner profile so that you could bump in more from the profile. Adding in some Candi Syrup or even honey would help this out quite a bit. Bump up the ABV and give it some extra mouthfeel that does remind me more of a honey ale. Maybe even go up to a Wheat Braggot for the beer to realy bump out an interesting flavor. If neither of those adjuncts jump out, it could be a good base for a Oat based beer as well as it has the right profile that would match it.

Next Time: Heavy Dark Wheat Beer

The, not-quite-Dunkelweizenbock has finished fermenting and I am still unsure of just how this 8% monster of a wheat beer will turn out with the blend of WLP300 and WLP510. I will know in a few days as it carbs up in the keg though. Next time there will be plenty to report on it's results as one of my Odd Beers.

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, Beer Tasting, Hefewiezen, Wheat

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