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This week's Basic Brewing Radio - any qualms?

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cactusgarrett

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I was listening to this week's BBR podcast which had the APA experiement. Long story short, the experiement was as follows:

2 brewers.
Same APA recipe.
One guy used WLP001 and the other WY1056.
Same ferment temp (62F i believe).
Each brewer split 5gal into two batches: one control left alone & one dryhopped w/ cascade vs centennial.

The major qualm i had with the 1056 vs 001 portion of the experiment was that because the guy with the sweet brew-setup COULDN'T MAKE A STARTER (don't get me started on that), they "normalized" the yeast pitch process by pitching right from the package - smack pack after smacked and directly from the White Labs tube.

Did anyone else find that part of the equation to be a major contributor to the differences they found in the controls? One guy found the 1056 had less lag time and a "cleaner" and "crisper" profile, while the 001 had a "maltier" flavor.

I emailed James to display my concern, trying not to be a d!ck about it, but i feel this portion of the experiment was invalidated due to the drastic difference in controls. Also, they mentioned they're going to continue this type of experiment with lagers & 3 strains of yeast. And to compensate for working with lagers, they plan on only what they called "overpitching" to compensate for the fact they weren't using starters.

Any thoughts?
 

944play

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I think the only notable thing their experiment showed is that dry-hopping improves head retention.
 

Casey27

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That sounds like a terrible way to go about making the comparison. You can't compare yeasts, even with the same recipe, using two different brewers and two different setups.

What they SHOULD have done to compare yeasts is have each brewer split his batch, using White Labs yeast in 2.5 gallons and Wyeast in 2.5 gallons. That would have given them 2 replications instead of one very biased replication. They could have compared the difference that each brewer found.

I didn't hear the show so I am not sure what the point of also testing dry hopping was. That sounds like a separate experiment, or one that would have required an additional split.
 

menschmaschine

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I haven't listened yet either, but it sounds like the results would be anecdotal at best. Don't get me wrong, I think James is great and really enjoy listening to his shows, but an experiment that is trying to compare 2 yeast strains while using each strain in two different brewhouses probably isn't going to accurately reflect the character differences between each yeast.

They took on too many experiment parameters in one experiment by throwing dry-hopping into the mix. Like Casey said, they should have used both yeasts in both brewhouses and skipped the dry-hopping... or just dry hop with both yeasts in one brewhouse and not in the other.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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...but an experiment that is trying to compare 2 yeast strains while using each strain in two different brewhouses probably isn't going to accurately reflect the character differences between each yeast.
Right. That's where I basically suspended my thought process in order to gain ANYTHING from the episode. However, when they said that one strain was from a smacked smack-pack and the other was a strait pitched tube, and later went into the resulting observations, it was hard for me to give creedance to anything that came from their experimenting.

For those of you who have yet to give it a listen, let me know how hard you had to try from jumping into the mp3 to strangle those dudes for not making starters & their reasons.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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As a follow-up, James actually got back to me via email:

Thanks for the feedback. I'll share it with Jim and Darren.

Jim and I had a similar e-mail discussion on the state of the yeast and the ability of it to "hit the ground running" on the Wyeast side. Instead of a weakness of the experiment, one could argue that this is a benefit. Here's my thinking: both manufacturers market their products as "pitchable". So, Jim and Darren are essentially taking the packaging at its word.

I agree that making a starter for the White Labs yeast might have put both samples on more equal footing, but I would put money on the assumption that only a minority of brewers take the time and effort to make a starter with their WL tubes and expect the yeast to work right away. After all, they paid a premium price for it.

I always use a starter with WL yeast. I've had too many long lag times in the past, and I need all the sleep I can get.
I appreciate his reply, but still don't agree on the idea that the difference in yeast states is a benefit of the experiement, simply because it affected the baseline (controls) of the experiment. Intended consumer use shouldn't have played into the equation at all.
 

flyangler18

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While I see the deficiencies in their experiment, I think these sort of 'anecdotal' experiments that they run periodically much more closely mirror how the majority of homebrewers (of which HBTers are but a small percentage) utilize WL and Wyeast products - as 'direct pitch' according to the packaging.

A number of us might geek out on pitching rates, higher level yeast management, etc - but for the 'average' homebrewer, they hit home.
 
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Intended consumer use shouldn't have played into the equation at all.
I think Intended Consumer should definitely play into it. This is how they market their yeast as how it should be used. Now we all know to use a starter if using a small vial of yeast, but we are a very small portion of the homebrewing community. They were showing the yeasts compared as they are sold to be used and as they are most likely used the majority of the time. Now I agree a good comparison of the yeast strains in themselves would involve starters, but comparing the purchased yeast from the two companies and how they decide to sell it, this was a fine experiment. They maybe should just make a note during the broadcast, that they recommend making a starter for these yeasts, but for the purpose of the experiment, they will be pitching both as advertised.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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I think Intended Consumer should definitely play into it.
I do see the rationale in this; i just took for granted that the majority of people DO make starters. I guess i'm just so dead-set on a starter no matter what i do, i see the no starter approach as "wrong". I just keep coming back to the idea that a decent side experiement would be to do a side-by-side with pitch-from-the-tube vs. prepared from a starter.
 

the_bird

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Without having listened to the episode, it still sounds clearly like too many variables.

Each brewer, brews ten gallons; five gets a vial of White Labs, five gets a Wyeast smackpack. Forget the dryhopping, that's a wholly separate experiment; either dryhop all or none. Then, you've got the yeast on two separate setups being used as directed. Running the same experiment twice.

Means that you buy twice the yeast, but that's how you've got to run it. It's not accurate to compare beer 1 to beer 2, when you've got the variables of yeast (what you're trying to control for), dryhopping (why introduce this to the experiment?) AND different brew systems/fermentation. Too many variables.
 

menschmaschine

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I do see the rationale in this; i just took for granted that the majority of people DO make starters. I guess i'm just so dead-set on a starter no matter what i do, i see the no starter approach as "wrong". I just keep coming back to the idea that a decent side experiement would be to do a side-by-side with pitch-from-the-tube vs. prepared from a starter.
Gravity comes into play as well, in that, lower gravity requires less yeast. I brewed my usual Bitter recipe some weeks ago and didn't get a chance to make a starter. So, I pitched 2 White Labs vials of WLP023 into 2 carboys of a 10-gallon batch (1 vial each) with a gravity in the mid-1.030's. One vial was at least 1 month older than the other and consequently the lag time was longer by about 6 hours in that carboy. But the resulting beer tasted roughly the same, both between each carboy of this batch and from other batches of the same beer I've brewed using a starter.
 

the_bird

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If they really want to do this experiment right, I'd propose the following.

Two brewers, brewing 10 gallons each at the same time. Combine all twenty gallons post-boil to get a wholly consistent wort. Need to get a big vessel of some kind, but if you're brewing on different setups you need to make sure the wort is all consistent; like getting three gallons of paint and mixing them up in a 5-gallon bucket before putting it on the wall.

Then, pitch the following:

1. WLP 001, straight from the vial
2. WLP 001, with a starter made; vial from the same batch as #1.
3. Wyeast 1056, direct from the smack-pack
4. US-05, rehydrated

Then, you've got a comp of starter-versus-no-starter (1 vs. 2), WLP versus Wyeast (1 versus 3), and dry versus liquid (4 versus 1 and 3).

Or, if you can't combine the batches, have each brewer split their batch into four 2.5 gallon batches, but only add HALF a vial, HALF a smack-pack, HALF the starter, etc. Pitch the yeast count that the companies are effectively saying is OK.
 

BarleyWater

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I think the only notable thing their experiment showed is that dry-hopping improves head retention.
I also thought that was the only thing that they discovered with their experiments. Although, if you have dry hopped enough beers, you kinda figure that one out on your own, and Jamil talks about it from time to time. In fact in the Brew Stron episode on Head Retention, they discuss in detail how the hop resins play a role in head stability.

The beers were brewed on the same system, and fermented at the same location, each just being taken care of by a different brewer. But the fact that the directly pitched WL vial had a longer lag time, was sweeter tasting and not as clean seemed to come as a surprise to them, while I'm was saying to myself "no sh!t, that's what happens when you under pitch."

The experiment was done to see if the WL and WYeast products which are reported to be the same strain, were in fact that, and the test was to determine if they reacted the same way, which they completely failed in by not giving them the same parameters.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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The experiment was done to see if the WL and WYeast products which are reported to be the same strain, were in fact that, and the test was to determine if they reacted the same way, which they completely failed in by not giving them the same parameters.
That's what i keep coming back to, and why i keep thinking the experiement wasn't setup properly in the first place.

To clarify, each brewer brewed a 5gal batch with one strain - one brewer 001 and the other 1056. Then, each brewer took one 2.5gal portion & dryhopped w/ cascade, and the other 2.5gal portion dryhopped w/ centennial.

Therefore:
Brewer 1: 2.5gal, 001, cascade
Brewer 1: 2.5gal, 001, centennial
Brewer 2: 2.5gal, 1056, cascade
Brewer 2: 2.5gal, 1056, centennial
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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As a follow-up follow-up, James forwarded my commentary to Jim (one of the brewers in the experiment) who recently got back to me:

Fundamentally I completely agree with you. You do want to eliminate as many variables as possible in order to accurately assess your test levers in any experimental design - in our case the hop varietals and yeast. Darren and I were conscience of our decision, but as mentioned in the podcast we also wanted to be aware and (to an extent) representative of what a typical home brewer would be doing at home. What we hoped to do was incorporate some controls (fermentation temp, fractioned wort from the same 10g batch, etc.) that not every brew could do easily to evaluate our test levers against. We felt that many would shy away from doing a test like this alone, or they would possibly try to repeat the test over 2 - 5gallon batches on different brew days (I personally would have if I were doing this by myself).

In the case of the yeast, and as James mentioned, the claim made by both manufacturers are that they are both intended to be directly pitched into wort and both claim to have similar cell counts. So, although from a strict scientific point-of-view an additional variable was introduced, according to White Labs and WYeast both of their products are similar, at least hypothetically.

I personally have two thoughts on the flavor differences noted:

1) I think (my self included) take for granted the impact a yeast strain has on flavor. Virtually any home brewing book that you read will comment on how much yeast impacts flavor. I feel like we as homebrewers' over look this point. I've read that ~60% of the flavor is a result of the yeast. I think many brewers first recourse to tweaking or even creating a recipe is in he grain selection. Though important I think we've all been surprised with how simple some grist bills are that have yielded great beers. Plus, according to literature the grist alone get you less than 1/2 of your overall flavor. This was one of the reasons why we chose to test the yeasts that we did and not to test extremely radical yeast strains (e.g. a Belgian strain). I'm also a microbiologist by education so I may have been a little biased ;)

2) My other hypothesis on the flavor variation is that I think it may actually be attributed to the different means of carbonation that we used (CarbTabs vs. force carbonation).

In any event we did it to have a little fun and learn a little. Hopefully we inspired some and possibly you to try some experiments. We may revisit this on a future brew date and repeat this attempting to control every variable within our means.

As I previously mentioned to James - given the potential of our setup, if you have an suggestions on other experiments that you would be curious to learn the results of please let us know. It would give us an excuse to brew! (We obviously have one suggestion on starters from this experiment)

Cheers,

Jim
I still don't agree with how that portion of the experiment was done (too many variables changed at once), but i see what he's getting at. I suppose a side-experiment would be to pitch the same yeast at different stages into the same wort.

And i definitely don't agree with his point #2 that different carb methods yield different flavors (assuming ideal, typical circumstances - ie. no infection), but that's for a different post alltogether.
 

rico567

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There's about as much rigid scientific experimentation on BBR as there is on Mythbusters....or in any of our dabblings. I agree with the thesis that the approach in this episode much more clearly mirrors the way MOST homebrewers pitch yeast. I've made about 30 batches since I started, and have made a starter ONCE, and that was because I inadvertently ordered a WY Propagator instead of an Activator.....and my beer turns out jut fine, thank you very much. (NB: I have only made extract brews to this point, and I make no claim that I won't go to starters when I turn to AG this summer, particularly the heavy gravity stuff.)

"Get your own show." - Emeril Lagasse
 

Saccharomyces

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And i definitely don't agree with his point #2 that different carb methods yield different flavors (assuming ideal, typical circumstances - ie. no infection), but that's for a different post alltogether.
Have you done this experiment?

Soperbrew and I split a 10 gallon batch of Maharaja brewed at my house and fermented with the same starter split in two at the same temp. Both fermenters were dry hopped the same, and attenuated to the same gravity in the same time period so we are sure they are identical coming out of the fermenter. We took half the beer and bottle conditioned it (his half) and kegged and force carbonated my half. Tasting side by side there are notable differences between them. The bottle conditioned one has noticeably more fruity esters, I presume due to the additional yeast activity in the bottle (being a 10.5% beer the yeast were stressed during carbonation). Because there is some sediment in the bottle conditionde version it has a little bit of suspended yeast which contributes a yeast flavor. The kegged version is cleaner tasting without the sediment.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Good to know. I was basing my opinion on the closest thing that i've done, which was a relatively medium grav recipe brewed consecutively (not split wort), with all other things similar, except bottle vs keg. I tasted no difference.

So i agree there is defintely room for tightening up my reason/variables, and actually making this an experiment on my part. Have you done something similar with a smaller beer (around "typical" OGs - 1.050-ish)?
 
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