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Yeast/hops selection

In my brewing years, I have never really (except once with help) chosen a yeast strain that wasn’t either included or recommended in a recipe. The one I tried, I chose a yeast strain that matched what I wanted my beer to taste like, but did not match the style of beer. I have tried to pick hops to match my desired style (creamy, citrus, bitter, dry, etc) with better results but am still a novice.

My recent beer was a Belgian golden, and I chose a yeast that would give off some fruity flavors. I did this because I wanted to add some fruit flavoring during secondary. But the yeast strain definitely did not match a Belgian golden. I split the volume, and I racked half onto fruit and added some fruit extract flavors.

The end result was ok but not great. It tastes sort of… pale. Not like a pale ale… just sort of muted. The un-fruited beer is decent but weird. The fruit beer didn’t pick up the flavors as hoped, but tastes ok. I think if the “base” beer was better, this could have been a success.

So my overall question is… how do people choose their yeast strains and hops? Do you go by how you want the beer to feel/tase? Do you select them based on what beer you are brewing (i.e. if you are brewing a stout, pick yeast and hops that are known to work with stouts)? I want to learn more about recipe creating and tweaking, and I think I have the grain idea down for now… hops and yeast are very unknown to me.

Well, now you’re asking "the " question so many of us chase after… I have a few different ideas… Its everything you put into your brew… That, comes from a whole lot of brewing… What I desire in a brew will be liked by many… but not all… Try messing with water?.. Then, so many different malts to choose… Hops are all over the place… Fruit, dank… dark, bright… Yeast… try many different ones and see if theres one that stands out… then you’ll be able to find one thats very close…
Lets start with hops… What are the ones you brew with? Sneezles61

For porters I use some chinook and us goldings,

for a stout I used goldings (and for an oatmeal stout I used us goldings)

German tettnang for a hefe

Saaz for the Belgian golden

Centennial, cascade, and/or citra in IPAs (magnum also when doing a black IPA).

So I go all over the place, usually just choose hops that are suggested for the particular type, I never branch outside the box. The most “outside the box” I went was to use US goldings instead of gold hops for the oatmeal stout. So… not much. I’m also really bad at figuring out how much extra hops to dry hop in the secondary whenever I add extra flavors… I don’t know how to balance it all out.

I won’t follow the “ones recommended” for a style of brew… I use northern brewer or Magnum for bittering I’m more into a balanced sweet to bitter ratio… 1 oz at 9% AA seems to be my sweet spot… I did venture out and got some German Herkules… but, won’t do that any more…
Really like cascades for aroma/flavor… There certainly other smaller AA hops that also work just fine… A small brew, a couple oz at flame out works… A grain bill will alot of heavier specialty hops, I may get up to 6 oz right around the flame out time…
Dry hopping is one that varies… little brews, 2-4 oz small AA hops… Bigger ones, say… an IPA… I might push in 8 oz small AA hops, and I sometimes replace a couple oz’s with a big AA hops…
The length to dry hop is another variable. I find 4 days works just fine at room temp… I’ve done them longer, but sometimes you want to get that brew into your glassASAP…
Teaball in the keg works well too… Sneezles61

Me like to experiment. With different kind of hops. Got a idea when creating a recipy go from there. Look at the hop bag what kind of flav the should give go from there. Yeast wise. Me sort of stuck to fermenting range. Due to the climate here. But do like. Kveik or wyeast. 3724. Whitelabs wlp 550 wyeast 1388. Nice for the temp here on island

All yeast companies provide detailed information on each strain of yeast. While you’re learning I’d recommend using that to select your yeast based upon the style of beer you’re brewing. Once you’ve got more recipe design under your belt with some successful results then you can start branching out and experimenting.

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When I first started out with my own recipes, I would, and still do read as much about the style as I can. When certain yeasts are recurrently mentioned I make a short list of yeasts true to style. Same thing with the hops. Experimentation is fine, but new brewers should get the basic styles down…my .02 cents.

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So I’m not a new brewer, just new to recipe design. I’ve been brewing for a few years now, the last few brews I have experimented with the recipe given to me though. One turned out wonderful, the other turned out “meh but ok”.

The good one, I added a lot of different things, from dry hopped items, used different hops than the recipe called for (but still used a hop known to work for that style of beer), boil addictions. Tried to change the mouth feel, enhanced some flavors, Increased abv. But I never changed the yeast.

The lower quality one, I chose a yeast strain that gives off fruity flavors and aromas, but kept the grains and hops to be a Belgian golden. So I didn’t change the recipe, just changed the yeast. Granted, I had a more difficult time while brewing this one so there could be lots to blame the outcome on.

Regardless, I haven’t strayed too far from what is considered a known thing. If I’m making a stout, I use hops and yeast that works with a stout, etc. When I ventured into “how do I want this to taste” rather than “what works well with this style”, it went awry. I tried to plan for fruit flavors being added later, when maybe I should have planned for making a better base and then worried about flavors later?

What was the yeast you used in the belgian and what didn’t you like about it?

I used wyeast London ale III 1318. It had been recommended to me on this forum as a nice strain, and I read on the wyeast website that it finished slightly sweet and fruity. I thought that would be great for how I envisioned my end product.

Complications arose, however. The yeast arrived on the hottest day of the week, ice packs melted. The starter was made anyways, and the beer definitely fermented, final gravity was very low (near 1.004). I also got clear wort after vorlaufing for about 15 minutes, and my sparge only lasted another 25-30 minutes after that, which caused my OG to be pretty low compared to what it should have been. Still usable, around 1.064, but should have been higher. So my efficiency was off for sure.

End result on the “base” beer was that it tasted bland or muted. Almost like the taste was watered down while the actual beer was not. It’s not bad, but I have described the taste as “pale” in the sense that it’s not vibrant by any means.

Then I had racked half the beer onto some fruit purée. On bottling day I also added some fruit extracts and lactose (about 1/2 pound). The flavors taste fine, not what I hoped but good enough. However, the “muted” base beer still shines through, so it tastes off as a whole. Best example I can give is… imagine eating an orange the day before it goes bad. It still tastes like an orange, nothing bad… but it’s a little muted and tastes a tiny bit funky. That’s what my beer tastes like, in a sense.

Honestly that’s about what I’d expect from that yeast…I’ve used it in ESBs, red ales and porters… it’s ok for those styles but I let it fall out of rotation so I must not have been overly impressed… Would never consider it for a belgian…

You should try one of the abbey yeasts. Wy 1214 or 3787 would have been perfect for your golden. If you want more fruity esters you just let the temp rise on them. The old 3787 is suppose to have been the Chimay yeast was a powerhouse and can ferment clean at low temps and more fruity at higher temps.

I’d recommend any of the trappist or abbey ale yeasts for belgian styles though.

I do experiment with yeasts from time to time but for my tastes I prefer brewing more to style and yeast selection can be critical in doing that.

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I have no real interest in recreating something I can get in the store and the corner deli 300 feet from me has a rotation of 30-40 different beers beyond your tradition American lager. So I lean more towards experimental hops and flavorful yeasts. I will have some Centennial or other base hops, that are totally predictable, at hand when I want to focus my attention on the malt or yeast.
I almost always design my recipes to highlight one unique thing. In the beginning I mixed too many components and could not taste/smell the single tree of difference in the forest difference.
IMO there are bland yeasts (which are 50% of the yeasts offered), there are powerhouse bland yeasts that always work, and there are Saison, Wheat, Abby style, Brett and sour blends. So if I’m not picking a yeast from the last category which is truly interesting then I might as well use a powerhouse house bland yeast.
I’m now feeling that the beginning recipes I made focusing on hopping schedules like 60min, 20min, and 5 min all produced the same beers and did not do the hops justice. I now don’t focus as much on 60 minute bittering and never do a 20 minute anymore. Instead I focus on getting the hops I like in bulk, and less expensive, so I can add more hops closer to the end of the boil and during flameout and hop stands. This change, I feel, lets me actually taste the hop characters. So from there I decide if I’m going for Noble, Earthy, or Fruity and choose accordingly without mixing all 3 of those descriptors.

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