Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Lager yeast recommendations

Due to the work involved in building up a healthy population of yeast to pitch, for the last few years I’ve been buying one lager yeast package and repitching the harvested slurry for most of my winter brews. Last year I used 2308, and 2206 for each of the two years prior to that (I really liked that yeast). I’m thinking of trying something new this year. Plan is to start off with a light lager, repitch into a eisbock, and get at least a shwartzbier and another lighter lager in as well. I can only get Wyeast or dry yeast locally, but would be interested to get recommendations. Tell me what’s worked for you and why.

I’ve only ever used 2 myself: WLP820 (same strain as 2206) and 34/70 (which is dry but the equivalent liquid is 2124). I made a killer vienna lager with the WLP820 and then made a similar recipe but used 34/70. Since i tweaked a few things (and screwed up others) its hard to make a straight comparison but the 34/70 was definitely a cleaner flavor. While it is still very malt-forward it doesn’t enhance the maltiness like the way 820 seemed to do (though 820 gave almost a caramel like odor). Also when pitching enough of 34/70 it was a real workhorse. Dried out both the vienna and the german pils I made. Both started around 1.048 and finished around 1.009-1.010. The pilsner i may have underpitched a bit and it still finished off nice and dry.

So if you are looking for a nice clean yeast (little flavor contribution) that allow your ingredients to shine, I would say 34/70.

I just used 34/70 for two lagers I made last Sunday. Didn’t have time to make starters. Pitched two packages in each carboy and they took off like crazy. If they turn out good, I might have to reassess making starters for every lager. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I like the 34/70 too. It is the lager yeast I use when I don’t have a good population/repitching thing going on. Anyone tried the Danish lager yeast? Curious about that one, though from the write up it doesn’t sound as versatile as some of the others.

Will probably go with the 2124 though.

I have made about 10 or 12 lagers over my 15-years homebrewing. The only two lagers that really turned out excellent in my opinion were a helles made the the W-34/70, and a Vienna with 2206. Those two beers were fantastic. Everything else was either mediocre or not good (probably due to my inexperience).

I had a string of terrible issues with WLP820 over the course of a couple of years. I gave it a good try. But I have said it before and I will say it again – this is a horrible yeast that should not be sold! It has a big lag time, it underattenuates, and generates acetaldehyde and diacetyl and sulfur, and is just an overall stinker. Any other lager yeast that you can possibly get your hands on is at least 3 times better than this garbage. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Also noteworthy, there is no Wyeast equivalent for WLP820. They say such-and-such is equivalent between White Labs and Wyeast, but it’s simply NOT true. Wyeast wins this battle IMO. Maybe the yeasts were from the same source long long ago, but of course yeast is alive and mutates so I don’t think they stayed the same for very long if at all, not since the 1970s or 80s. I will also go so far as to say this: To my knowledge I’ve NEVER seen any award-winning recipe that used WLP820. People almost always win with 2206 or 2308 or 2124 or one of the other common yeasts. Even W-34/70 is winning in comps. But not WLP820.

One thing to note about the W-34/70… in my experience, this yeast did not age well. In the first few months the beer was great, but after a while longer it seems I got some autolysis or other odd characteristics. So if I use it again, I’ll be cautious to drink it younger, at least for relatively small beers like helles. Perhaps in a stronger beer it keeps just fine.

That Vienna with 2206… man… that was a really really good beer. I think that must be my favorite lager yeast of all.

I was underwhelmed by 2308. I used it for a string of 4 beers. In every case, it was alright, but didn’t get me where I wanted to go. Not a bad yeast, but not awesome either IMO.

I made one beer with WLP830 that was a dumper. This was a long time ago so it was probably my own fault. I intend to give this yeast another chance eventually as I know it gets great reviews from thousands of people.

My overall recommendation might be to stick with what you know is great, the 2206. From what I can tell 2206 is also the big favorite among a lot of the big name homebrewers as well as many commercial breweries. Or, try the 2124, as I know that one also gets really good reviews, and also I know it’s helped me place in competition one time (I’ve only used it once or maybe twice). And in a pinch, you can always throw in some W-34/70 which tastes great too and requires no starter if you use enough.

:cheers:

I’ve won an award and scored a 42 with a vienna using 820. Brewing classic style’s vienna uses 820 I believe. Also according to Mr Malty
http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast.htm
820 and 2206 are the same strain. Maybe you just had a bad batch of 820?

I stand corrected! Props to you, sir!

I’ve tasted said Vienna. Definitely worthy of its score, zero butter or apple.

To the OP, I love 2206, but some say it is better for the more malt-forward lagers, such as a helles or a marzen. I’m not sure I buy this, but this is the feedback. So for your ‘lager chain’ it would probably be great.

If you are planning on brewing hoppier lagers (Bo Pils), you may want to use Urquell/WLP 800, but again, I think you would probably be fine using 2206.

My understanding of lager yeasts is, once you find one you like working with, and produces the beer you want with your ferment schedule, keep using it. Its not like you are looking for specific esters/phenols out of the yeast. Just looking for a workhorse that will do its job at low temps without kicking off a lot of sulfur or other noise. Lagers are about quality malts and clean fermentations (I happen to believe this for ales as well!). On my above point, I would think water manipulation will accentuate malt/hops/dryness more than a yeast strain (all other things equal, like attenuation/flocculation).

You may want to PM Greg Muller (Mullerbrau) on here, as he likes to focus on lagers and cleaner ales.

I used the WY 2001 Urquell yeast on my pils. The Pils is still lagering but the small taste I had when racking to the keg was clean and crisp.

Ken Lenard would be another good source for an opinion on Lager yeasts.

[quote=“mattnaik”]I’ve only ever used 2 myself: WLP820 (same strain as 2206) and 34/70 (which is dry but the equivalent liquid is 2124). I made a killer vienna lager with the WLP820 and then made a similar recipe but used 34/70. Since i tweaked a few things (and screwed up others) its hard to make a straight comparison but the 34/70 was definitely a cleaner flavor. While it is still very malt-forward it doesn’t enhance the maltiness like the way 820 seemed to do (though 820 gave almost a caramel like odor). Also when pitching enough of 34/70 it was a real workhorse. Dried out both the vienna and the german pils I made. Both started around 1.048 and finished around 1.009-1.010. The pilsner i may have underpitched a bit and it still finished off nice and dry.

So if you are looking for a nice clean yeast (little flavor contribution) that allow your ingredients to shine, I would say 34/70.[/quote]
The German pilsner I did with 34/70 went from 1.049 to 1,007. I’m getting near the end of the batch and wishing I had more.
[i]If[i] you can find it S-189 is really good. I made a marzen with it that turned out great. I recently got 5 more packs and plan on a bock plus something else I haven’t decided on yet.

820 - I agree Dave, it’s a tricky beast. I’ve made a couple spectacular brews with it, but more often it’s given me fits. I want something more reliable when I brew. I quit using it several years ago.

2308 is my favorite for malt-forward lagers. Love it. It doesn’t seem to always go well with spicy food for me though, which is a problem as I love Thai and Indian cuisines.

2206 is a good, malty, somewhat versatile strain. 2124 is more versatile.

833 is an interesting yeast. It really seems to accentuate all the individual malts in your brew. As in, I found I really need to have the recipe dialed in, because all the malt flavors are quite apparent. Some of the others, like 2308 in particular, seem to “smudge” the flavors a bit into a pleasing blend.

There really is a difference between all these!

Here’s to those boring beers Mr. Koch speaks of!

Wanted to add that I’m really tempted to give 820 a go again, in the new packaging. Are the problems that Dave and I have seen, now fixed with the new system?

Also, ime, the “pilsner” yeasts do make great pilsners. But I’ve not been able to get the best out of them for the maltier styles (like helles, vmo, dunkel, bock). So I tend not to use them when I’m doing a progression of beers like the OP.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com