Truth about yeast strains............?

The question I would like answered is for experienced brewer’s or Denny/Yoda. I saw an interview with Dan Carey of New Glarus Brewery. I think they make some remarkable beers that are very creative. In the interview he stated “We have 4 house strains of house yeast”. I went on their website and including seasonals,and retired they make 26 different beers. I have started to wash yeast and have 5 strains cleaned and saved,(Wheat, Neo Brit, American Ale, Belgian Strong, and a German Ale).

If a commercial brewery only has 4 strains of yeast have I gotten caught up in the more is better trap?

Do commercial breweries purchase a specific strain if they are doing a seasonal or limited release?

Can a homebrewer get his own house yeast and cross over to different styles without totally screwing up the process and making a generic beer? I say this because I am really partial to 1945 Neo Brit. and default to that yeast when I can.

I can’t help, but think that the first fermentations were achieved by sticking the pot outside for a couple days and hoping some decent wild yeast would fall in and now we have an almost infinite variety of yeasts.

One of the great things about this hobby is that you can try out many different strains. Commercial breweries are pitching lots of yeast and usually reusing it, so it will cost them a lot more to try something else. I’d guess there are breweries that use fewer than 4 strains on a regular basis – Bell’s and Sierra Nevada come to mind.

I know my local brewpub does. Their house strain is Wyeast 1318, but they buy Belgian and lager strains as needed.

Try the same recipe with different yeasts or split a batch. Try 1945 it in a bunch of styles and see how it goes. I love Wyeast 1272 and use it in IPAs, porters, stouts, APAs, wheat…

I’ve got exactly 44 batches under my belt at this point, so I’m not sure I’m the level of Denny/Yoda (maybe somewhere between a young brazen Obi wan and that weird girl jedi with the blue horn things), but I will offer my $0.02.

I think it depends on what you like to drink. If you like to drink/brew American style ales, you can get by with Chico/US-05/WLP001/Whatever Wyeast. In 90% of the beers I make, I am using Chico, Nottingham, WY 3711 (for saisons), or WY 2206 Bavarian Lager for lagers (even some hybrids…see my Cal Common ‘discussion’ from awhile back). Probably 60% I use Chico (though I am going to try out Pacman soon).

That being said, if I want to make a Kolsch, you NEED a kolsch yeast. It just won’t be right otherwise. But you can also use that yeast to make an American Wheat, American Pub Ale (I really want to try this one), and some would argue both types of Altbier. If you want to make a wild ale/flemish sour, you can’t really do it without Roseleare (some would say you could spit in the beer for the lacto, or use your kitchen sponge, but variable results :cheers: ) If you want to make a wit, you likely need a wit yeast. Beers that are yeast/phenolic/ester-forward need a specific yeast. I would lay my 401k on the fact that NG (and any reputable brewery) knows the profiles of all the yeasts they use and how to manipulate the yeast to give them the flavors they or their customers want.

Yeast Labs want to sell you yeast. Make no mistake. But yeast is a huge contributor to beer flavor. Think about tasting the wort then tasting the finished beer. It makes a huge difference (as does conditions of the ferment).

Rogue uses their house yeast (Pacman, similar characteristics as Chico) in just about all their beers…AIPAs, APAs, Stouts, Porters, Ambers, BIPA’s, barleywines, Xmas ales, etc. (if I’m not mistaken). So yes, if you like to brew different types of IPA or beers where yeast is not a critical component, I wouldn’t mess around with the differences between WL “West Coast Ale” and “American Ale”. The differences are going to be minimal. However you would have a pretty tough time making a proper Dortmunder with S-05.

I will also say that I tried to make an AIPA with S-04, and its just not right. If you’ve ever had a bitter of any strength made with Notty (or another English Ale yeast), there is a tangy flavor that goes great in bitters, but is NOT GOOD AT ALL in AIPAs.

Not sure if I answered your question, but I couldn’t resist throwing my thoughts out there.

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Commercial brewers use as few yeats as they can get away with strictly for practical reasons. Imagine the pain of maintaining and reculturing a lot of sifferent strains. This is one place (of many) where being a homebrewer frees you of the constarints that commercial brewers have. But most commercial breweries I’maware of will also sometimes buy another strain to use for a special brew.

I’m also not Denny. I have used 1945 on a variety of ales, from Bitters, Stouts, Cream Ale, Irish Red, Mild, Multigrain Red, to Scottish 60/-. Depending on pitch rate, temperature, and aging, I can make it do quite a few different things. That said, I’m sure I’d have done better according to BJCP judges if I used “appropriate” strains, but it’s nice to have a “house strain” for when I’m not entering a beer in competition. Also, Jamil suggests that getting to know one strain well in a variety of beers can help you understand fermentation better as a whole.

I use four yeasts to make 99% of my beer - WLP007, US-05, WY3787, and WY3711. Every now and then I’ll get something different just for kicks, though.

I am guilty of being a somewhat new brewer and have used brewing to expose myself to many different styles of beer that I have never tried commercially. Once I started harvesting yeast I also became guilty of harvesting everything. I make one Wit beer a year, typically, yet I have harvested the yeast. Probably pretty dumb.

I currently have 3 lager strains going and am trying to figure out if there is that much difference between Bavarian and Bohemian lager yeast. But I have not tried on the same recipe.

My “go to” ale yeasts are 1056, 1450, 1469 and 1335.

I’ve dound that in general there is a lot less variation in lager strains than ale strains.

I don’t see any guilt to be assumed for either of these things! The former is one of the ways I opened my eyes past Miller Lite, and the latter is one way to help in making a 5 gallons of excellent beer for less than the cost of an equal amount of Natty Ice!

Breweries make a lot of choices based on economy. If they use a small handful of house strains, then they can get a lot of batches out of one initial pitch of yeast. In addition, for a commercial brewery I think having a “house character” is important. Yeast and process are probably the top factors that play into developing that house character, and they really go hand-in-hand.

I use US-05 for at least half of my brews, because I am generally brewing various hoppy and/or American-style brews for the majority of my beers. But the great thing about being a homebrewer is that you can easily experiment without breaking the bank. While half of my beers are US-05, I don’t think I’ve reused any other strain more than once or twice a year. I think it will be years before I’ve had a chance to experiment with the majority of the yeast strains that interest me, and I’m fine with that.

At the risk of patting myself on the back this is a really cool thread. The process is one of the things I find interesting.
After the BTV episode 'King’s coolship" I went down to NB and talked to Jeremy King about his quest to harvest a viable local yeast. If memory serves me right he said that at one time he had 20+ carboys fermenting with various wild yeasts just to find one that would work. Lakefront’s “Wisconsinite” uses his yeast. I’m amazed at the creative people involved in this obsession.

Have you tried it? That was an interesting episode of BTV.

I like Wy1028, 1084, 3068, and 3726, because I get constant results from them.
1450 is a great yeast, I lost my reserves during a move. :oops:
As Denny said, we don’t have the financial pressure to maintain a house yeast for multiple beers.

+1. I’ve used 2206 in at least a dozen different styles of lager, and they all came out fine - even worked well for a cali common. I’ve tries the same beers with different strains and typically seen very little difference.

Ha! See that! See that Ken Lenard!? I wasn’t the yeast, it was the brewer (me) that made the mediocre cal common!

Yes, Wisconsinite uses the yeast strain that Jeremy King propagated. It was released in the first part of May 2012. It is available again as a Spring seasonal.