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Old 12-10-2011, 03:45 PM   #1
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Default Which yeast for a steam beer?

So, I want to brew a steam beer. I have a good recipe going, I think, I just can't decide on the yeast. The White Labs San Francisco Lager seems to be the standard steam strain, but I was wondering what I'd end up with if I used something like the White Labs German Bock strain (WLP833)? Optimal fermentation temperatures are listed at 45*-55*, my ambient temps would be closer to 60*-65*. Any thoughts?

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Old 12-10-2011, 03:50 PM   #2
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The only way to get the real steam beer profile is to use the San Fransisco Lager strain from White Labs or the California Lager strain from Wyeast. The proper fermentation temp is also key, if it runs too low or too high it won't produce the flavor profile you're looking for. The key characteristics of the steam style are accentuated by use of the proper yeast at the right fermentation temperature (not to high) otherwise you're likely to end up with Diacetyl which is not to style.

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Old 12-10-2011, 09:11 PM   #3
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The only way to get the real steam beer profile is to use the San Fransisco Lager strain from White Labs or the California Lager strain from Wyeast.
That's if you're making an Anchor Steam clone, but originally there must have been more than one lager yeast used in making steams (and I've never found any evidence that Anchor has found a strain from back in the day, just one that works). I've made good steam beer with S-23, and right now I'm making a batch with 34/70 just to see what I get (some have reported good results, some not so good).
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:20 PM   #4
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While I agree with Teacher, I will say that Anchor Steam is *the* reference beer for California Common for BJCP judging. So, if you are planning to submit to a competition, even though you could in theory use any lager strain or hops, you are better off using San Francisco Lager and Northern Brewer Hops because that's what is in every judge's brain when they are tasting your beer. In my experience, anyway.

Even according to style guidelines that shouldn't really be the case, but I think people tend to judge based on similarity to the commercial examples, and Anchor Steam is by far the most prevalent for that style.

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Old 12-10-2011, 09:30 PM   #5
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I made a good california common with s-23 although i had ambient 68ish temps that is too high for that yeast, i got off flavors that took a few months to ware off, but turned out very decent. Next time i will not use that temp.60-65 will work well.
So if your not being too techinacal about a steam beer,s23 lager yeast does ale temps well below 67 deg at least though.

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Old 12-17-2011, 08:41 PM   #6
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Just an update: I bottled my steam beer about four or five days ago, and it was quite delicious. I was surprised, as I simply left it in my basement at ambient temps (upper 60s), and there was absolutely no hint of diacetyl whatsoever. It still has to carb up, but it's looking like 34/70 might be a good possibility for those of us who would rather use dry yeast.

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Old 12-17-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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I think you have to be below 60 before diacetyl is a concern.

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:08 PM   #8
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Yeah, you get diacetyl from LOW fermentation temps, not high. Among other things like poor pitching rate, low oxygenation, etc.

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teacher View Post
Just an update: I bottled my steam beer about four or five days ago, and it was quite delicious. I was surprised, as I simply left it in my basement at ambient temps (upper 60s), and there was absolutely no hint of diacetyl whatsoever. It still has to carb up, but it's looking like 34/70 might be a good possibility for those of us who would rather use dry yeast.
Yeah, your temps at 60 are what those lager yeast do to do a diacetyl rest,so you shouldnt have to worry about that.Im going to have to try that yeast out, have you used s-23 before? Be carefull doing upper 60's with s-23.I wont do above 65 with that again.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgmartin000 View Post
I think you have to be below 60 before diacetyl is a concern.
Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
Yeah, you get diacetyl from LOW fermentation temps, not high. Among other things like poor pitching rate, low oxygenation, etc.
Diacetyl is caused by higher fermentation temps, not lower, among other causes. You raise the temp to encourage the yeast to keep cleaning up unwanted compounds. Good article in an old issue of Brew Your Own magazine

Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Story Index - Brewing Science - Diacetyl: Homebrew Science

This is from the article

Higher temperatures lead to more diacetyl formation. For example, a lager beer that is fermented at 57° F can produce up to three times as much diacetyl as a similar beer fermented at 40° F.


Diacetyl removal is accelerated at higher temperatures. Some lager brewers raise the temperature of the beer to around 57–61° F for a day or so after primary fermentation and prior to cold conditioning. This is called a diacetyl rest. Ale brewers can also perform a diacetyl rest by waiting for a couple of days after primary fermentation is over before chilling the beer.
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