Saturday, July 21, 2012

80 Shilling Yeast Experiment Brewday

Back in February, I made an American Pale Ale with White Labs Edinburgh Ale Yeast 028. I had a yeast cake, and I figured I’d try something different. And while that beer was delicious, it was not really an APA. So I figured that, in the name of science, I would run a single batch of beer across three different yeasts as a controlled experiment to compare the different versions. I picked an American yeast (Wyeast 1272 American Ale II), and Belgian yeast (Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes), and an English yeast (White Labs 028 Edinburgh, since I liked it so much last time) in order to offer some variety. So without further ado, I bring you the 80 Schilling Yeast Experiment! Oh yeah, and I’ll be running an APA over the same three yeasts when I rack this one over to the secondary.

121. 80 Shilling Yeast Experiment
10 lbs. Muntons Pale
½ lb. Weyermann Dark Munich
½ lb. Breiss Flaked Barley
½ lb. Gambrinus Honey Malt
½ lb. Muntons Dark Crystal 135-165° L
½ lb. Muntons Crystal 60° L
¼ lb. Crisp Pale Chocolate

Mash @ 157° F for 70 minutes w/ 4 gallons of RO water; collected 2 gallons @ 1.068; pulled 2 quarts to boil down and caramelize sugars
Batch sparge @ 158° F for 20 minutes w/ 5 gallons RO water; collected 5 gallons @ 1.028

Collected 6 ¾ gallon, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ¼ oz. Sonnet Golding leaf 4.1% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

Chilled, split 5 ½ gallons into three carboys, & pitched Wyeast 1272 American II (a), Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (b), and White Labs 028 Edinburgh (e)

Brewed: 7/21/2012
Secondary: 7/27/2012; a @ 1.016, b @ 1.016, & e @ 1.018
Bottled: 7/31/2012 w/ .9 oz table sugar each

OG: 1.052
FG: a @ 1.016, b @ 1.016, e @ 1.018

Tasting Notes: So I am finally getting around to typing up some notes on the first of the two yeast experiments I did this summer. In the glass, the color and carbonation for all three versions are identical: clear deep copper with a touch of chocolate and a wispy soft eggshell head—there is minimal carbonation even after about five months in the bottle.

Wyeast 1272 American II (a): The nose is clean and lightly nutty, with faint delicate chocolate that borders on cocoa; there is a hint of malt and caramel, but it is the most neutral of the three. Flavors follow quite closely; there is malt and caramel sweetness in the front with just a touch of chocolate in the middle, while the finish is smooth and even—it is just more of the caramel and malt of the front, with some lingering chocolate. There might be a touch of fruitiness in the middle, but it is very indistinct and buried. The nose is actually more interesting and subtle than the flavor profile: the delicate nut and cocoa doesn’t make it into the body. The body is light and gentle, and the subtle carbonation allows the beer to roll pleasantly across the palate. This is a good beer, but it comes across as a bit too clean overall. The beer is also a bit thin in the front; the cleanness is nice, but makes for a bit of an indistinct beer overall.

Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (b): There is a slight phenolic tang, along with some spicy fruitiness. Caramel comes in behind this, but is clearly secondary to the Belgian yeast characteristics—I find the nose a bit off-putting, honestly, and I’m a fan of both Belgian beers and 3522 in specific. The flavors are also a bit unbalanced between the phenolic yeast and the malt and caramel flavors: it opens with malt sweetness that leads into caramel in the middle before giving way to the spicy phenolics of the yeast in the finish. The subtlety found in the other two versions is lost—the hint of chocolate and even much of the caramel is hidden behind yeast flavors in the second half of the beer. As with the Wyeast 1272 version, the body is light with subtle carbonation. It does not, however, finish clean—the Belgian yeast character lingers on the palate. Still, I’ve had worse beers. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend this combination.

White Labs 028 Edinburgh (e): The nose opens with a rich maltiness: there is toast, caramel, and a lighter chocolate with an almost delicate creamy breadiness behind the caramel. Flavors build upon the aromatics; sweet caramel malt in the front, with bread and biscuit leading into hints of chocolate in the middle, along with some nuttiness. The finish is dry but malty, and more husky than grainy. There is a hint more body in this beer, which not only gives it a touch more mouthfeel, but also gives it a corresponding more rounded feel on the tongue. In conjunction with the light carbonation, this version has a creamier, smoother body, even as it finishes cleanly. This yeast is certainly much more malt friendly than the other two; unlike the Wyeast 1272, which is clean and neutral, this yeast draws the malt flavors out to delicious effect. It is hands down the best beer of the three, although I can see a case being made for the 1272 version. Not that I’m listening.

Not surprisingly, all these yeasts ended up producing the types of characteristics that I would expect from them. Still, this experiment was valuable to see the ways in which the three yeasts interacted with one batch of beer. White Labs 028 Edinburgh produced the best beer for the style—it is a malt-friendly and malt forward yeast. Wyeast 1272 American II was too clean and neutral, which is good for certain types of American beers, but it came across as a bit too bland in a Scottish 80 Shilling. It was clean, yes, but nothing really stood out. As well, it was the thinnest of the three in terms of mouthfeel—the one place Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes was better than 1272 was in mouthfeel, even though both finished with the same final gravity. And Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes? While I’m certain there is someone out there for this particular beer, it is not me. Although I do want to point out that when I took a couple of six-packs of this and 122. American Pale Ale YeastExperiment, there were a couple of people who got behind the Belgian Ardennes version of the Scottish 80 Shilling. So there you go: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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