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-   -   California common lager yeast (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/california-common-lager-yeast-240736/)

brewhusker 04-19-2011 03:27 PM

California common lager yeast
First post ever. Long time lurker but couldn't find any posts about this question when I was searching the threads.

I hear people often talking about the difficulty of lagering without having a cool enough basement. I'm now doing my second lager using wyeast 2112 had great results the first time using a northern brewer John q Adams kit and now doing an oktoberfest with the same yeast. Am I missing something? Why don't more people use this yeast if they can't properly lager?

ehedge20 04-19-2011 04:24 PM

I would think that most people do not realize this style of yeast is out there, or that they would prefer to stick to the traditional style with the idea in their head that you need to have a cold climate which is true if you want to use traditional German yeasts. These yeasts will yield a different flavor than the 2112 which might be more desirable to some. Sure the 2112 can produce a terrific lager but how different is the flavor profile from using a traditional lagering yeast? That my friend is the real question. Have you tried brewing 10 gallons and using a true lagering yeast in 5gal of it and the 2112 in the rest?

JohnMc 04-19-2011 04:28 PM

The yeast is what used to be classed as Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, but it's been selected to behave like an ale yeast, at least in regard to its fermentation temperature. It does result in clean ferments, but beers made with it can't generally be called lagers, as it doesn't go cold enough. From Wyeast, "This strain is not recommended for cold temperature fermentation. "

yodalegomaster 04-19-2011 05:01 PM

I think that you will find that there is big taste difference between 2112 and a something like 2206. The flavors from the 2112 will be much more fruity than the 2206. This is the same type of difference's you get from dry lager yeasts, they generally will be more fruity than a properly used lager yeast. Let's just say all the yeasts will make a good beer, but some of the styles like "California common", need 2112 yeast to taste right. But using 2112 yeast in "munich helis" is going to get you 15 in a competition. If your the one drinking it go ahead and use 2112 it's still going to be a good drinkable beer. As you taste more good beer or go into judging beers the difference between the two types of yeast will be quite pronounced.

brewhusker 04-19-2011 05:21 PM

Yoda. I might have to take you up on that challenge some day in the future and see how it comes out in judging. :) But for now it makes a hell of a good beer and that is the largest part of why I got into this hobby, and no I don't have anything against using a true lager yeast when I have the equipment to do it properly.

Thanks to all for your responses.

frazier 04-19-2011 09:19 PM


Originally Posted by brewhusker (Post 2851081)
Thanks to all for your responses.

No - thank you for asking the question! I actually intended to ask this very question, only to arrive here to find this thread. :mug:

Looks like I'll be brewing up an OctoCaliCommonFest soon!

JohnMc 04-20-2011 04:32 PM


But for now it makes a hell of a good beer and that is the largest part of why I got into this hobby,
Thumbs up.

jfowler1 04-20-2011 05:14 PM

I agree that the San Fran Lager strain is a good choice for "basement" brewers (and I do not want that to sound insulting). I actually replied to a thread that someone started a while ago questioning what to do because their 60 degree basement was too cold for ales to not fall out of solution as fermentation stalled, but was too warm for a lager yeast that was prone to off flavors around 60F. My reply was to try the WLP810 (SF Lager).

But a point is being missed here. Don't confuse brewing to style with making beer. Hybrid beers, like Cal Common, Kolsch, Alt Beers, (and to some degree Bavarian Weizens) are styles that were born from brewing conditions. The key word there is "styles". They are beers with specific strains, and need to be fermented with those strains to acheive characters appropriate for their style.

So if you are just fermenting in your basement, I think it is a great choice to make beer styles appropriate to those basement conditions. You, like the brewers who originated those styles, are making your beers match your conditions. That is brewing to style. On the other hand, you can match your yeast to your conditions, but if the recipe is not appropriate to the yeast, you are "making beer", not "brewing to style".

There is nothing wrong with making beer. I know many people make quick Octoberfest's with ale strains (there is a popular recipe around here), but it is really not an Octoberfest if it is not a lager. It will look similar, and will taste good, but as another member mentioned, in competiton, it would show its style inaccuracy as compared to correctly fermented O-fests.

So IMO, that is why you can't just pick a strain and call it a catch-all. That strategy is fine if you can not manipulate the fermentation conditions, but still want to make beer, but you can't pick a catch-all yeast and claim it is suitable for all styles.

brewhusker 04-20-2011 05:29 PM

So are you saying I should claim credit for making a new "style" of beer? Even better!

Big_Belgian 04-20-2011 05:29 PM

This is an interesting discussion for me and thanks for posting it and for the comments. I have been brewing (extract only) for less than a year, but have already used 2112 and 1007 several times, essentially "unknowingly" running through the "hybrid" styles - Cal Common, Kolsch and Alt. I didn't realize this until I was reading the Palmer/Jamil recipe book and saw these three styles grouped together under the "hybrid" category. I've always preferred lagers as a beer drinker, so I suppose it was natural that I was drawn to the dry ales.

As a side question, in this context I often see the terms "top-fermented" or "bottom-fermented" to describe these yeasts. Can someone explain what those terms mean?

thanks again

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