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S-04 for Wyeast 1968 in a ESB?

I’m traveling to Philadelphia in a couple of weeks and will be helping my brother get initiated into brewing. He’s mentioned that he really likes bitters. I’ve bought him a copy of Jamil’s and John Palmer’s “Brewing Classic Styles” and they have a couple of ESB recipes in there which call for 1968, but mentions S-04 as an alternative. I’m trying to avoid making a starter so as to not throw to much at him too early, but will go there if folks think we should really go with the 1968. What do you all think?

I think you’ll want his first batch to be amazing, right? I’ve had really good results with 1968. On the other hand, I’ve only used S-04 once and the batch was gross. It was fruity in a weird way. I never went back to that one. YMMV.

Either way, it’s awesome that you’re getting your brother started. Way to go. BCS is a great resource that will help him explore a ton of beer styles with either extract or all-grain.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the S-04 strain, and I’ve heard almost nothing but bad things about it. I’ve never used the Wyeast 1968 strain, either, because I usually use White Labs when I want a liquid yeast. But if an ESB is what you’re making, I’m sure that yeast is as good as you can get for that style. Making a starter doesn’t have to be a complicated process, either, so I wouldn’t worry about overwhelming your bro. It’s just as well he starts out doing that as soon as he gets into homebrewing, and just makes it a regular step in his brewing regimen from batch #1. There’s absolutely no down side to it, that’s for sure. Good luck.

I have nothing but bad to say about S04 so that being said I will reserve the bummer aspect/s of that yeast in this thread to save time and flames, some seem to really like it.

I would say that using dry for newbs is not a bad option whatsoever and I think your game-plan is sound although I would use Nottingham over S04 everyday of the week. Even using US05 is not a bad plan for someones first beer, no matter the beer type as it will be really neutral and still make a good session/ bitter where brit strains tend to be heavier on fruity esters and emphasize malty characteristics.

I was told safe-04 is the same strain as Wy 1098. Safe-04 has been good for me, made several English ales, tastes ok to me.

I’ve used so4 a few times, once in the esp from bcs. I thought that that beer came out really well and I was pleased with the results. I have heard mixed reviews about so4 though.

This was my experience the only time I used it as well. However, at the time my fermentation practices were far from ideal, so I do plan on trying it again soon with more temperature control.

I love Wy 1968. If you can find a fairly fresh package of it, I might suggest using it without a starter rather than using the 04. This is obviously not the most pro advice, but I am one of those guys who never uses a starter when I pitch liquid yeast. Every time I have used 1968 sans starter I have had great results.

s-04 works well, but only really in british pale ales and porters IME. I tried using it in an american pale ale just for kicks, and it has a weird tangy fruity thing that is appropriate and even expected in british ales, but does not work well at all in american hop forward beers.

I’ve also used notty for premium bitters and porters with good results, but I’ve heard of some bad recent results with notty, YMMV.

Also, bear in mind that if you are making an ordinary or premium bitter, depending on how many gallons, you may not need a starter since the gravity is so low.

Thanks for all the feedback.

There are two bitter recipes in BCS, one with an OG of 1.048 and the other around 1.060, for a 5-gallon batch. I am leaning towards using 1968, and if so will go with a starter, even if we use the lower OG recipe.

I’d use the 1968. If brewing the lower gravity recipe and if the yeast is relatively fresh, just pitch the one pack. It will be fine. If using a slightly older yeast (4+ weeks) or the higher gravity, just buy two packs… if you don’t want to mess around with a starter. Seems like a logical compromise.

^^^This. If the original issue was that you did not want to bother with a starter - this is a very solid way of avoiding one.

Nothing wrong wit s-04. I made a damn fine oatmeal stout with it fermented @62. But from what I understand it’s the Whitbread yeast strain, not Fullers, so swapping them will give a big difference in flavor.

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