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Very fast fermentation of (almost) all wheat beer with yeast starter of Safale WB-06

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AnbyG

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Last weekend I attempted to brew an (almost) all wheat beer utilizing some leftover grains/extract to clear up some space in the pantry. Long story short, I did not have enough ice to throw in wort to cool it down rapidly to 70 F. So I left it at room temperature overnight (~18 hours) to cool down from 80F to 70F. The OG measured next morning at 70F was 1.065.

I had a 2 year old packet of Safale WB-06 sitting outside. I wasn't sure if it was viable. So I decided to make a starter, prepared a 105g/L solution of DME, poured the whole packet of dry yeast in 400 mL of the solution and let it grow overnight in a plastic bottle. Within a couple of hours bubbles were rising out of the yeast starter like crazy. I pitched ~250 mL of the solution next morning in my wort.

Within 12 hours of pitching fermentation was going on rapidly. The bubbles were coming out of the airlock at a pace that I normally see 3 days or so after pitching dry yeast. I've never seen fermentation start and reach its peak so quickly. But I have never pitched a starter before, so I am not sure if this is normal. Any downside to this?

Ingredients :
~6 pounds of Avangard wheat malt
1.5 lb Bavarian wheat LME
0.5 lb of Crystal 20
1 lb Carapils
1 lb flaked wheat malt
1 lb cane sugar

Mash in at 148-154 F for 90 min (unstable electric stove), mash out at 170 F for 5 minutes. Final volume of batch ~5.5 gallons.

Total boiltime of 90 minutes. 1 oz Saaz (30 min boil), 1 oz Willamette (20 min boil), 1 oz Cascade (5 min boil), 1 oz coriander seeds (5 min boil)
 

coonmanx

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Shouldn't be an issue. I have had batches blow off like that before and finish fermentation in two days or less and the beer came out fine. That happened once when I made a starter with some old Edme yeast.
 
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AnbyG

AnbyG

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Shouldn't be an issue. I have had batches blow off like that before and finish fermentation in two days or less and the beer came out fine. That happened once when I made a starter with some old Edme yeast.
Can a liquid starter like this be used with the intention of shortening the duration of primary fermentation?
 

IslandLizard

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Can a liquid starter like this be used with the intention of shortening the duration of primary fermentation?
Sure!
Pitching a good, healthy amount of an active yeast starter surely helps to reduce lag time. So does good wort oxygenation or aeration. Often I've lift off within 3 hours of pitching an active "vitality starter."
It's hard to overpitch, you need to do so by a factor 3 or 4, but when you do you may notice a lacklusterness in flavor and aroma.

BrewUnited's Yeast Calculator

Now progress/speed of fermentation is mostly temp dependent. Usually keeping fermentation temps toward the lower side of the yeast strain's range makes for better beer...
 
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AnbyG

AnbyG

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The beer turned out fine. Final gravity of 1.008 if I recall correctly. Dry hopped with 3 oz of Cascade hops (2 year old in the freezer) and I am liking it so far.

I brewed another batch last Tuesday with the following grain bill. The mash wasn't perfect as the grains filled the entire kettle to the brim and there was not much water in the mash. So I had to wash the grains with water once the mash was complete. Lesson learnt on not to put too much grains in the small boil kettle. Anyway, got an OG of 1.085 and pitched 1.75 L yeast starter of WLP 400. Checked the gravity this morning and got a reading of 1.006, it is almost done. No off flavor in the sample I drank this morning. Dry hopping with 0.5 oz of Willamette and 1 oz of Cascade. I need to brew another batch, so I will bottle in 3 days or so, and will let it sit in the bottle for 10 days or so to make up for short time in primary so that most of the yeast settles down in the bottle.

AnbyG

~9 pounds of Avangard wheat malt
~1 lb of Crystal 20
~1 lb Carapils
~1 lb flaked wheat malt
~1 lb cane sugar
1 oz Cascade (45 min), 0.5 oz Willamette (30 min), 0.5 oz Cascade (5 min), 1.5 oz coriander seed crushed (5 min)
1.75 L yeast starter of WLP400
 

IslandLizard

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The beer turned out fine. Final gravity of 1.008 if I recall correctly. Dry hopped with 3 oz of Cascade hops (2 year old in the freezer) and I am liking it so far.

I brewed another batch last Tuesday with the following grain bill. The mash wasn't perfect as the grains filled the entire kettle to the brim and there was not much water in the mash. So I had to wash the grains with water once the mash was complete. Lesson learnt on not to put too much grains in the small boil kettle. Anyway, got an OG of 1.085 and pitched 1.75 L yeast starter of WLP 400. Checked the gravity this morning and got a reading of 1.006, it is almost done. No off flavor in the sample I drank this morning. Dry hopping with 0.5 oz of Willamette and 1 oz of Cascade. I need to brew another batch, so I will bottle in 3 days or so, and will let it sit in the bottle for 10 days or so to make up for short time in primary so that most of the yeast settles down in the bottle.

AnbyG

~9 pounds of Avangard wheat malt
~1 lb of Crystal 20
~1 lb Carapils
~1 lb flaked wheat malt
~1 lb cane sugar
1 oz Cascade (45 min), 0.5 oz Willamette (30 min), 0.5 oz Cascade (5 min), 1.5 oz coriander seed crushed (5 min)
1.75 L yeast starter of WLP400
Good to hear you previous batch turned out well for you. :D

On your new batch, what is your batch size, the actual volume that is in your fermenter?

Are you using a BIAB process for mashing? Added any rice hulls?
With that much wheat malt (which has no hulls) the mash must have been extremely gooey, sticky, hard to lauter. The flaked wheat exacerbates this. It must have been hard, if not impossible, to get the wort out.

Are you sure of the FG being 1.006 coming down from 1.085 OG? Or did you dilute it before fermentation?

On a side note, "flaked wheat" is not a malt, it's raw wheat that's steam heated, then rolled between hot rollers. Although they call it "flaked," it's usually just rolled, not flaked into smaller, thinner pieces.

Flaked (or rolled) wheat is considered an adjunct as it has no diastatic properties of its own. ;)
 
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AnbyG

AnbyG

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Good to hear you previous batch turned out well for you. :D

On your new batch, what is your batch size, the actual volume that is in your fermenter?

Are you using a BIAB process for mashing? Added any rice hulls?
With that much wheat malt (which has no hulls) the mash must have been extremely gooey, sticky, hard to lauter. The flaked wheat exacerbates this. It must have been hard, if not impossible, to get the wort out.

Are you sure of the FG being 1.006 coming down from 1.085 OG? Or did you dilute it before fermentation?

On a side note, "flaked wheat" is not a malt, it's raw wheat that's steam heated, then rolled between hot rollers. Although they call it "flaked," it's usually just rolled, not flaked into smaller, thinner pieces.

Flaked (or rolled) wheat is considered an adjunct as it has no diastatic properties of its own. ;)
My bad, I meant flaked wheat, not flaked wheat malt. Guess I am super used to typing malt after wheat. :D

My final volume in the fermenter was 5.5 gallon. For mashing in, I use a variant of BIAB. I use my 5 gallon boil kettle without any bag. I put as much water as I can to get the level of the mash just a cm or so below the brim of the kettle. Once mashing is complete I put a paint strainer bag over a 6.5 gallon bucket and pour one third of the mash with grains in the bag. I let it drip, then squeeze the bag to get as much as I can, then transfer the grains to another pot with just enough water to soak the grains from which I have extracted once. The grains soak up a tad more water, and the I squeeze the bag again to get as much water as I can, and then the grains hit the trash. Once I do it for all the grains I put it in the cleaned boil kettle and start boiling it for hop addition.

The first few times I bought Avangaard wheat malt from Maryland Home Brew Store, it did have lot of grain hulls. It was super easy to mash it, just like malted barley. So I decided to buy 55 lb of grains prior to the lockdown in MD with the fear that liquor stores were going to be closed. Not this big bag did not have any hulls it, and I was not happy with that. I haven't asked them why it didn't have any hulls. It has been a little hard, but it really hasn't been that bad.

There was no dilution while taking the OG. It was done in the bucket with the 5.5 gallon volume prior to pitching at 70 F.
 

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Can you describe the aroma and flavour form the beers made with WB-06? I ask as this is not a hefe yeast. Genetically, is in the same family as the Duvel yeast, which makes it more belgian than anything. It is also diastaticus, and will chew on a lot of sugar, pushing the FG low, as its apparent attenuation easily reaches 85%. I know when I used it, it was more belgian than anything: it was lacking fruitiness, phenolic, a bit tart, dry mouthfeel.
 

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Can you describe the aroma and flavour form the beers made with WB-06? I ask as this is not a hefe yeast. Genetically, is in the same family as the Duvel yeast, which makes it more belgian than anything. It is also diastaticus, and will chew on a lot of sugar, pushing the FG low, as its apparent attenuation easily reaches 85%. I know when I used it, it was more belgian than anything: it was lacking fruitiness, phenolic, a bit tart, dry mouthfeel.
What? This is news to me...
 

thehaze

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What? This is news to me...
Yes, imagine my surprise a few years back when my first wheat beer fermented with WB-06, didn't taste like one. If you are interested in reading more about some of the yeast you might have used, you can check out this page: Suregork Loves Beer | Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Rambling

However, I am still intrigued by it and will likely use it again, in a Belgian Pale/Strong Ale later this year, and see what I get. It might not produce weiss beers, but I am sure it's good for something.

A little note: I know WB-06 was marketed as a wheat yeast so many years, and I also know and believe some brewers, both commercial and hobby, have used it with good results. But even if it tastes similar to a wheat beer, it does not come close to ... say Weihenstephaner, which for me is the epitome/gold standard of what a really well balanced hefe, with a strong estery and phenolic profile, should smell and taste.
 
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AnbyG

AnbyG

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Can you describe the aroma and flavour form the beers made with WB-06? I ask as this is not a hefe yeast. Genetically, is in the same family as the Duvel yeast, which makes it more belgian than anything. It is also diastaticus, and will chew on a lot of sugar, pushing the FG low, as its apparent attenuation easily reaches 85%. I know when I used it, it was more belgian than anything: it was lacking fruitiness, phenolic, a bit tart, dry mouthfeel.
The two batches of beers I have made with WB-06 were dry, a tad tart and did not have any fruitiness, just like you described. Due to the amount of hops in the most recent batch, the first few sips are pretty bitter, however after a few sips you can get a faint hefeweizen-ish aftertaste. I am not a huge fan of this yeast, and will most likely not use it again.
 

beersk

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Yes, imagine my surprise a few years back when my first wheat beer fermented with WB-06, didn't taste like one. If you are interested in reading more about some of the yeast you might have used, you can check out this page: Suregork Loves Beer | Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Rambling

However, I am still intrigued by it and will likely use it again, in a Belgian Pale/Strong Ale later this year, and see what I get. It might not produce weiss beers, but I am sure it's good for something.

A little note: I know WB-06 was marketed as a wheat yeast so many years, and I also know and believe some brewers, both commercial and hobby, have used it with good results. But even if it tastes similar to a wheat beer, it does not come close to ... say Weihenstephaner, which for me is the epitome/gold standard of what a really well balanced hefe, with a strong estery and phenolic profile, should smell and taste.
Yes, Weihenstephaner hefeweiss is my benchmark for the style. I have 1 can left of a 4 pack of Hacker-Pschorr weissbier as well and that beer has been really nice. It's a nice balance of those phenols with the banana 4-vinyl guaiacol ester. That's what I'm going for. I brewed an extract weissbier last Sunday that will be kegged tomorrow or Saturday with the Mangrove Jack's Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast and the sample I took yesterday was very promising in that it had a great balance of those esters I'm after. I'm wondering if they do a ferulic acid rest for those wheat malt extracts. That's something I never have done with my all grain hefeweizens and am always missing that balance of banana/clove. I've tried fermenting at all temps.
 

thehaze

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A good, perhaps even the best dry hefeweizen yeast is Danstar Munich Classic. Note they had two Munich yeast - I say had, as the Munich Wheat has recently been renamed/rebranded as their Wit yeast. So the Munich Classic is Weihenstephaner or a close derivative of it. This is sort of a known fact on some german forums and there is mention of the same on this forum as well. I've tried it, I like it. Makes decent/good hefeweizen beers. 1 sachet is enough for beers up to 1.060-1.065. Higher gravity worts will aid in producing more banana esters, along with underpitching, which is why 1 sachet is enough for most beers fermented with this yeast. It's fast, fermentation is always explosive with this yeast - I use 8 gallons Speidel fermenters and always have at least 1 gallon headspace. Munich Classic volcanes out of the fermenter... it simply smashes through the oversized airlock.
 
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