How much does yeast influence the taste?

As opposed to the malt and hops, that is? I’m just now delving into making my own recipes, and I’m just wondering which ingredients have the most influence, and where I might find some resources to guide me a little bit.

Huge amount. It can be as critical as hops or malt. To keep things simple, though, maybe stick to a “clean” yeast like us-05 if you’re just starting out with your own recipes, to eliminate a variable. But some styles, you simply cannot brew it without the proper yeast.

Huge. That was the most amazing thing I learned when I started homebrewing. More than that, the same variety of yeast will make a huge effect depending on how you treat it.

Here’s my quick questions for folks starting into yeast (others are way more knowledgeable than I am)

  1. what do you want the yeast to contribute? Do you want it to fade into the background, get out of the way and let malts/hops shine? Do you want it to throw out funky Belgian horseblanket flavors? Do you want a little floral/fruity to balance your hops? Something crisp?

  2. what does your temp control look like? How you hold Temps restricts what yeasts you can work with

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Hah… @porkchop beat me to it, but with an example that proves the importance of my second question. I spent a year just brewing with US05, and all of my beer had a weird peachy Ester quality. It turns out my standard fermentation temp (62-63 ambient) really brings out peach flavor. I got much cleaner fermentation with WY1272.

…of course, uberculture said it much better than me. I personally don’t care for fermentation control, so I use yeast, when I use it, with a wide tolerance range.

Seriously, though, with the same malt bill and hops, I could probably make 50 different beers by changing the microbes in the beer. But as far as where to start? As mentioned above, try to think about what you want from the yeast in terms of attenuation and esters/phenolics, and go from there.

Thanks guys. That was my next question - what’s a good neutral sort of yeast, so I can experiment with the other ingredients while holding that constant. I’ve used us05 a couple times. Temps have been right around 65, but with summer coming, that might change.

US-05 is a good neutral yeast if the fermentation temperature is 66° to 68°F. Below 65° this yeast will add a peach flavor to your beer. It will not be an up front flavor in all styles though.

flars, is there a website or something that gives you this kind of information?

I don’t know of any specific site with this information. How a yeast ferments involves many variables so it would be difficult to nail a specific profile to a yeast. The profile experienced by a brewer will depend on how the yeast was used. A lot of information is anecdotal from experienced brewers and is good information when the brewer includes the information on how they used the yeast to achieve the results.

I’ll look at the yeast manufacturer’s web site for information. Danstar’s site has much better information than Fermentis for dry yeasts. Wyeast and White Lab sites are both good.

Couple of other resources.

I’m lucky enough to live right by the headquarters for White Labs. They have a tasting room where they make a batch of wort and then ferment it with 3 - 4 different yeast strains. It’s amazing at the taste difference. If you ever get the chance to visit White Labs I highly recommend trying our their tasting room.

You can literally change the entire characteristics of the beer just by changing the yeast you use.

I did this tour too, I highly recommend it to anyone visiting San Diego