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House yeast strains

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WrathsU

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Hi,

I read a recent excerpt from the Cigar City Blog (detailing the start of the brewery all they way up until present time) and I felt a bit confused. In their 14th blog post it states:

"My conclusion for our standard house yeast strain is Thames Valley. I was considering American Ale but looked at all three strains and felt that the Thames would be more striking and best suit our needs. I think that it will still have the versatility of the American Ale strain for the most part and, with temperature controlled fermentations based on the style we are trying to create, should work just fine for us. "
Does this mean they use this yeast strain for all beers unless they need a very specific strain for a unique brand. I remember him saying something like they needed to use a different strain for a higher og beer...

If they do use that strain for most beers, is there a strain that home brewers use for most beers? It would make yeast-washing byproducts much easier to store as I don't need to save X amount of vials in my fridge so it would be nicer.
 

Bensiff

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Yes, commercial brewers use one strain for the bulk of their beers to keep costs down as buying a commercial pitch is pricey.

A home brewer can do the same, something like Wyeast 1056 or WL001 are common choices. Again, the reason is for cost cutting. However, a pitch of yeast for a homebrewer is relatively inexpensive so there is less financial incentive for a homebrewer to do so, especially when considering the enjoyment of experimenting the impact of different strains.
 

Clonefarmer

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Yes, commercial brewers use one strain for the bulk of their beers to keep costs down as buying a commercial pitch is pricey.
They also re pitch frequently. Over time the strain they use can adapt to their brewery. At that point it really becomes their own house yeast. Quite a few breweries have a proprietary yeast strain that started out this way.
 

kanzimonson

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I'd definitely recommend homebrewers only keeping one or two house strains around as well - the infrequency with which we brew means that we're storing yeast for (relatively) a lot longer than commercial breweries. You have to think there's some degradation in the quality of our yeast by the time we pitch it again (even if you make a starter, which you damn well better!).

I use 1968 in most of my ales and it's the only one I permanently keep around. If I want to use something else, I'll try to make several beers in a row with that strain (Belgian ones for example).
 

heywolfie1015

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I use 1968 in most of my ales and it's the only one I permanently keep around. If I want to use something else, I'll try to make several beers in a row with that strain (Belgian ones for example).
This is a good choice. Adaptable to many styles, great flavor, and super flocculent. It's also my go to.
 
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WrathsU

WrathsU

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I'm just a college student and obv can't afford to make 15 batches to try out every yeast strain but am very curious as to how much of a difference can be detected in say a SMASH recipe with 15 different ale yeasts?
 

heywolfie1015

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Depends on the yeasts you use. If you just use variations on a standard American or British yeast, you will taste differences, but not much. However, if you go with an American yeast, a British yeast, a wit yeast, a hefe yeast, a Belgian abbey yeast, a kolsch yeast, and then some wild bugs, you will see a wide variety of beers.
 

r_flagg

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I thought you could only wash your yeast up to five times before they start mutating, possibly contributing to off flavors and becoming less flocculent. How would a homebrewer be able to control that and consistently use the same strain each time?
 

kanzimonson

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WrathsU, the differences in yeast strains are amazing. For an easy experiment, split a batch in two and ferment with an American and English and prepare to be blown away. It really helps you realize that making wort is easy and the yeast do all the work.

r flagg, you're exactly right. I just try to be as clean as possible, but when I have the slightest bit of insecurity about my yeast culture, I dump it and start with a fresh pitch. Usually I develop my insecurity before the beer shows any signs of problems.
 
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I thought you could only wash your yeast up to five times before they start mutating, possibly contributing to off flavors and becoming less flocculent. How would a homebrewer be able to control that and consistently use the same strain each time?
There's some dispute over how much that happens and I suspect that is partially strain-dependent.

If you use generation one in a batch, yeast wash into four mason jar, then you can do four batches on generation two. If you yeast wash each generation two into four mason jars, you end up with twenty one batches (one from generation one plus four for generation two plus sixteen for generation three). If you keep going out to five generations you end up with over 200 batches of yeast. Realistically, you will probably run out of room before you can keep and use that many mason jars.

If you pitch generation one and then use the whole cake five times in a row that would exhaust your five generations. It just depends on what you chose to do/feel comfortable with/works best for your needs.
 

El_Exorcisto

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My house strain is a wild strain I collected from some local honey. It's really unique, something literally no one else is playing with. It doesn't floc well, but the flavor is good, and it attenuates to 75-80% reliably.
 
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WrathsU

WrathsU

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WrathsU, the differences in yeast strains are amazing. For an easy experiment, split a batch in two and ferment with an American and English and prepare to be blown away. It really helps you realize that making wort is easy and the yeast do all the work.

r flagg, you're exactly right. I just try to be as clean as possible, but when I have the slightest bit of insecurity about my yeast culture, I dump it and start with a fresh pitch. Usually I develop my insecurity before the beer shows any signs of problems.
I'm going to have to try this experiment out sometime. I think I'll try washing and cultivating an american ale strain after my next batch.
 

kanzimonson

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I'm going to have to try this experiment out sometime. I think I'll try washing and cultivating an american ale strain after my next batch.
Yeah the first time I did this was with a pale ale. I split it into three 2gal batches and pitched with 1056, 1272, and 1968. These were great strains to compare because 1968 is way out in left field due to high flocculation, low attenuation, slightly sweeter finish, and crazy maltiness. The two American strains were fun to compare because you could still tell a difference but it was more subtle. I learned a lot from this.
 

r_flagg

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Holy crap ReverseApacheMaster I didn't extrapolate it out that far but you're right. That would call for a bigger fridge, but the savings per vial/smack-pack would be worth a new fridge alone! Thank you!:mug:
 
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