Lager Yeast Experiment: S-23 vs. Wyeast 2124

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Setup
I brewed a 10g batch of German Pils.

Malt:
Pilsner
Hops:
Magnum @ 60 min.
Saaz @ 15 and 1 min.​

I split the batch between 2 better bottles. Yeast was pitched at 70F, then both were set into my chest freezer where they reached 50F in about 5 hours. One fermenter got Fermentis S-23 Lager Yeast, the other Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager Yeast.​

Yeast
DRY: Two packets of dry yeast were pitched without rehydration (I normally do rehydrate, and I can't remember why I didn't do it this time).

LIQUID: The liquid yeast was grown from a frozen 10ml tube in my yeast bank. The liquid yeast was stepped up on a stirplate to 4 liters. The liquid yeast starter was very active and blew off the foil from my flask. Before pitching, the liquid yeast was decanted and the nasty beer was poured off so that only the yeast was pitched.

Fermentation/Lagering
2 wks @ 50F
3 days @ 65F
3 wks @33F
Tested after 25 days in bottle.

Both beers finished at 1.013.

Discussion of Differences

Appearance
  • Dry slightly more orange / less yellow
  • Liquid produces a better head of foam.
Aroma
  • Liquid slightly more of the spicey aroma; probably I'm just smelling the saaz better because of the better carbonation
Taste
  • Dry has a perfumey taste
  • Dry has a bit more malt flavor (very slight).
  • Liquid has a very slight fruity taste. Very faint.
Mouthfeel
  • Both are light-bodied.
  • Dry has a slightly astringent (dry aspirin); dry is definitely crisper.
  • Dry has thinner/lighter mouthfeel.
Drinkability
  • Both are great. Due to the slight astringency in the dry yeast beer, I’d stick to the liquid yeast one.

Other
Refractometer measured 5.75 Brix on Dry, 5.1 Brix on Liquid
From this, I would calculate that I got about 75% attenuation from the dry, and 81% from the liquid.​

Conclusion
The Wyeast 2124 seemed to attenuate a bit better, but at the same time left some esters (maybe from the warm pitching temps) that made a better beer. The S-23 was a very pleasant beer except for the slightly dry, finish. I really like the convenience of using dry yeast, so I would consider using the S-23 again for a light beer like this. I have used this dry yeast for other lagers (i.e., Scharzbier) in which I could not taste any astringency. Also, the dry yeast is half the price of the liquid.​


<-- Dry Yeast....................Liquid Yeast-->
 

beerbelay

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Thanks for the info. I am getting ready for my first lager and this was on my questions list. I will probably try dry 1st. and seeing that I do have a stirplate and flask will step up liquid for the next.
 

hank1072

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Nice info. I just brewed an european pilsner and used s-23. I pitched one package rehydrated. My temputeres were about the same as yours. I lagered for 5 weeks. A week after I bottled it I checked for carbonation and it was carbing nice but it had a real warm alchohly taste to it but a smooth finnish. I checked it again after another week and it smoothed out and tastes great. I might use the s-23 again but I think I will use two packages instead of one. I've heard bad things about s-23 but I think if you keep your temps right it makes nice beer
 
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Resurrecting a zombie thread. Passedpawn, have you continued to use S-23? Still noticing the color/astringency issues?
No, I really abandoned it completely around that time. I started using W34/70 (dry). I used that a lot. I now use Wyeast Czech Pils for my pilsners.

The S23 wasn't bad, and the astringency was probably due to the better attenuation, which exposed the hop flavor a bit more. Can't remember really.

I won't say that I have a favorite. After several generations of the W34/70, I started getting a lot of cloves from it. Nasty pilsner that I had to dump. I'm many generations into the Czech Pils yeast and it's still faring well, so that's the one I'm sticking with now.
 

pfgonzo

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Interesting timing; I just made a bock with 2206. Next time I make it, I may give 2308 a try just to compare. I still haven't worked up the nerve to try a dry lager yeast, and am not sure what it would take to get me to take that leap of faith. Not that your post gives me any incentive to do so! :mug:
 

rtstrider

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No, I really abandoned it completely around that time. I started using W34/70 (dry). I used that a lot. I now use Wyeast Czech Pils for my pilsners.

The S23 wasn't bad, and the astringency was probably due to the better attenuation, which exposed the hop flavor a bit more. Can't remember really.

I won't say that I have a favorite. After several generations of the W34/70, I started getting a lot of cloves from it. Nasty pilsner that I had to dump. I'm many generations into the Czech Pils yeast and it's still faring well, so that's the one I'm sticking with now.
Hate to resurrect an old thread...I've had NOTHING but trouble with w34/70 and cloves/phenols. It's not my gear or techniques as I've brewed many beers (before and directly after) with different yeasts on this setup. I actually went on a light beer kick with wlp001, and used my local breweries house yeast (which is not wlp001), just to see if it may have been my gear. After a few brews/fermentations I tried another pack of w34/70 and same issue. I even ran into this with US-05 (asked around, brought my brews to a local BJCP judge/master brewer and they picked it up also.) The LHBS owner said they had this same issue with US-05. So I'm not sure if maybe my LHBS got bad yeast or if Fermentis sucks. Either way I haven't had that problem when going liquid (wyeast, white labs, or the local breweries proprietary house yeast). Will be brewing with 2124 for the first time ever as soon as I finish riding out the current pitch of wlp001.
 

beersk

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Ah, this is an old thread - that I completely forgot about. I use S-189 exclusively now for pilsners.
Interesting. Why did you eventually go with that yeast, a dry one at that?
 
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passedpawn
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Interesting. Why did you eventually go with that yeast, a dry one at that?
First, I really like dry yeast - it's far more convenient to store and use, and it doesn't age (much).

I had some "off" beers that I think were caused by W34/70. So for lagers, I tried out several dry yeasts. S-189 resulted in the best pilsner for me. As a homebrewer, the differences could have been attributed to lots of other variables. One thing I really want in my pilsners is for the yeast to drop out (flocculate) when I cold-crash, and this yeast does that really well.
 

brewbama

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That’s interesting you’re getting off flavors from 34/70. I find 34/70 a very clean lager yeast. What is your pitching rate? I pitch 34/70 at 1 gram per liter wort.
 
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passedpawn
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That’s interesting you’re getting off flavors from 34/70. I find 34/70 a very clean lager yeast. What is your pitching rate? I pitch 34/70 at 1 gram per liter wort.
I usually pitched 2 sachets per 5g. That's about what you do. Like I said, it might have been something I did. I know the day I decided to try something else was a split batch where half didn't ferment well and remained a bit sweet, and off flavors. I don't recall the exact nature of the batch except I'm sure it was a pilsner.

Also, that yeast is quite expensive for a dry yeast. I'm pretty sure S-189 is half the cost (ish).
 

brewbama

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Wow. I wonder what the difference is. I’ve used 34/70 at all temps from mid 50(s) to mid 60(s) and never had any problems.

FWIW; W34/70 is .30 cheaper than S-189 on Label Peelers.
 

balrog

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I tried 34/70 at 60F for the warm ferm thread and it was like I poured peach schnapps into the batch. And ate a peach whilst drinking it. And smeared peach essence on the rim of the glass used to drink it. There was peach. Not in a good way.

Blech.
 

Dland

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Never did get peach with 34/70, must not have screwed up enough ;}

Anyway S-189 finishes cleaner than 34/70, to my taste anyway. But 34/70 has always made good beer too.

34/70 may be more forgiving with temp variances, especially if you don't mind your lagers tasting like light ales, in a good way, but not as clean lager finish.

Seems popular to over pitch around here, not that is a worry or changes the brew except for perhaps some speed and for sure some cost.

Thought I should buy a few shares of Fermetis do to popularity of copious use prescribed by "yeast calculators", but alas it is privately held.
 

beersk

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I tried 34/70 at 60F for the warm ferm thread and it was like I poured peach schnapps into the batch. And ate a peach whilst drinking it. And smeared peach essence on the rim of the glass used to drink it. There was peach. Not in a good way.

Blech.
So, you, like, don't like peaches or what?
 

dmtaylor

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I tried 34/70 at 60F for the warm ferm thread and it was like I poured peach schnapps into the batch. And ate a peach whilst drinking it. And smeared peach essence on the rim of the glass used to drink it. There was peach. Not in a good way.
Hmm... I only get the peach from US-05 and Nottingham. On the other hand, W-34/70 dried is a sucky yeast and I don't use it anymore. Can't remember why anymore except that it's not a great lager yeast, regardless of extreme endorsement by Brulosophers.
 

beersk

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Hmm... I only get the peach from US-05 and Nottingham. On the other hand, W-34/70 dried is a sucky yeast and I don't use it anymore. Can't remember why anymore except that it's not a great lager yeast, regardless of extreme endorsement by Brulosophers.
What took you so long to come to that conclusion???
 

beersk

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What are YOUR thoughts here?
Well, I always thought 34/70 was pretty reliable. I guess it's been a few years since I've used it. I really don't use any dry yeast anymore. I wonder if it's changed... It was always clean and pretty forgiving, I thought. I haven't used S-189 though, I'd like to give it a try. Also wanting to try the Voss Kveik when Lallemand puts it out.

Sorry if I came across badly last night, I was drinking some homebrews and having a terribly good time of it. I was being playful, not angry or anything.
 

rtstrider

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Well, I always thought 34/70 was pretty reliable. I guess it's been a few years since I've used it. I really don't use any dry yeast anymore. I wonder if it's changed... It was always clean and pretty forgiving, I thought. I haven't used S-189 though, I'd like to give it a try. Also wanting to try the Voss Kveik when Lallemand puts it out.

Sorry if I came across badly last night, I was drinking some homebrews and having a terribly good time of it. I was being playful, not angry or anything.

All I know is I've grabbed a pack of 2124 now. Every single batch, but one, I've made with W34/70 has turned out awful phenolic. The first batch had a weird pear ester to it but that is attributed to not having proper temp control. As previously stated I've put up other yeasts with the same exact brew methods I use and have not had an issue. This is something with dry yeast period. I also cheapened out last time and built a stepped, stir plate, starter with a single pack to rule out any pitch rate issues. To rule out any potential sanitation issues in the starter I sat the stir bar in covered boiling water for 30 minutes and let the flask, plus all other equipment that was being used that day, soak for just as long in Starsan. Per the yeast calculator I used I was looking at 800-900 billion cells for a low gravity 5 gallon batch. This was fermented at 49F with a 2F differential. I have to attribute this to Fermentis as I've literally run into this same exact issue with US-05. Others locally have as well. I'm wondering if the LHBS vendor may have had a bad batch or something?
 

brewbama

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I’m wondering if it’s the taste bud anomaly thing. I read somewhere that some people don’t detect some flavors. Maybe I don’t detect whatever it is the gang here is detecting with 34/70. It has been nothing but a clean lager yeast for me. I’ve used S-189 with similar results.

As far as pitch rate, I figured the ~five bucks is worth the fast start and finish and no off flavors or smells I’ve been getting.
 

rtstrider

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I’m wondering if it’s the taste bud anomaly thing. I read somewhere that some people don’t detect some flavors. Maybe I don’t detect whatever it is the gang here is detecting with 34/70. It has been nothing but a clean lager yeast for me. I’ve used S-189 with similar results.

As far as pitch rate, I figured the ~five bucks is worth the fast start and finish and no off flavors or smells I’ve been getting.
Normally I would agree. However, I took my brew to a master brewer and had them blindly taste the brew (with no background) BAM! Stood out right away! Kind of odd two people might taste it. The other thing is they said they used w34/70 and it was not like that at their old brewery (which is almost 1k miles away). Now I asked the LHBS if they've had issues with US-05 and they concurred they had been picking up phenols with the most recent batch (not my brew but their own in their own brewery). I dug a tad deeper and reached out to brewer that runs another brewery (yeah we have quite a few breweries here) and picked their brain. Mind you they use the large bricks from Fermentis and they said they haven't had this problem with W34/70 or US-05. The master brewer I know recently used a brick of S-04 without issue as well. I'm beginning to wonder if the issue is limited to the 11.5 gram packets of dried yeast or my LHBS?
 

Steveruch

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Normally I would agree. However, I took my brew to a master brewer and had them blindly taste the brew (with no background) BAM! Stood out right away! Kind of odd two people might taste it. The other thing is they said they used w34/70 and it was not like that at their old brewery (which is almost 1k miles away). Now I asked the LHBS if they've had issues with US-05 and they concurred they had been picking up phenols with the most recent batch (not my brew but their own in their own brewery). I dug a tad deeper and reached out to brewer that runs another brewery (yeah we have quite a few breweries here) and picked their brain. Mind you they use the large bricks from Fermentis and they said they haven't had this problem with W34/70 or US-05. The master brewer I know recently used a brick of S-04 without issue as well. I'm beginning to wonder if the issue is limited to the 11.5 gram packets of dried yeast or my LHBS?
I wonder if using the diamond lager yeast I just used on a schwartz bier might be an issue. It's supposed to be a version of w34/70.
 
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passedpawn
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Just closing the loop: I settled on S-189 for the best lager yeast for my palate. I've been using it for a few years now and I doubt I'd ever go back to either of the yeasts mentioned in the original post. I also used W-34/70 for a while. That was fine for a bit, but then one bad experience and I switched.
 
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passedpawn
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To close the loop, I've settled on Wyeast Munich Pilsner as my best lager yeast. Wyeast 2308.
Well, haha.

I pretty clearly remember going to the local brew store and picking up a couple of these 2308's that were nearly expired. I smacked them, they did NOTHING, pitched them into my new lager wort, again no activity. That's when I decided to find a dry yeast that worked well. And thus S-189.
 

odie

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doing a Czech pils right now. I have S-23....actually it's all I have for lager yeast...I'm out of 34/70 which I've used with good results on numerous lagers...

will see what comes of it
 

rtstrider

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doing a Czech pils right now. I have S-23....actually it's all I have for lager yeast...I'm out of 34/70 which I've used with good results on numerous lagers...

will see what comes of it
I was able to compare these two yeasts side by side a few weeks ago. S-23 was fermented around 55F at a microbrewery and w34/70 was fermented by me around 64F. No off flavors from the warm ferment. What we noted is S-23 brought out the malt a good bit more than w34/70. That's about it. So if you're brewing a lager where you want the malt to come out a bit more I'd say try S-23! Other thing they noticed is there was a bit of diacetyl (VERY minimal and barely detectable) with S-23 so pay attention and get a good D rest in. They rose the temp when the fermentation was already done.
 

Northern_Brewer

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Other thing they noticed is there was a bit of diacetyl (VERY minimal and barely detectable) with S-23 so pay attention and get a good D rest in. They rose the temp when the fermentation was already done.
Given that the origins of S-23 seems to lie in Urquell, a bit of diacetyl would be "authentic"...
 

odie

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good to know on the S-23....I do like Urquell. The recipe is actually a clone that I found. But there seem to be several clone recipes of that beer.
 
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