White Labs WLP546 Marañón Canyon Wild Cacao

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deadwolfbones

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Unique new strain from the vault, getting ready to head to production. I just put an order in. If it sounds fun to you, don't wait!

https://www.whitelabs.com/news/new-vault-strain-wlp546-maranon-canyon-wild-cacao

We've teamed up with Marañón Chocolate to bring you one of our sweetest Vault strains yet: WLP546 Marañón Canyon Wild Cacao. This unique strain was isolated and produced rare cacao variety—Pure Nacional—that was once thought to be extinct in Peru, and is the first known wild cacao yeast available to make artisan beer!

Tell me more
The coveted cacao bean was rediscovered in late 2007 by Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley, founders of Marañón Chocolate, while sourcing tropical fruits in the remote Marañón Canyon of Northern Peru. Not knowing what they stumbled upon, the pair sent the cacao tree leaves to the USDA Genetics Laboratory. USDA confirmed it was the same variety that had once dominated the chocolate market, but vanished in 1916 when diseases struck and killed the trees that grew these cacao beans.

Then, in 2015 and 2016, El Niño weather systems hit Peru, impacting the wild yeast responsible for the beans renowned characteristic flavor. To preserve the wild microflora, Dan reached out to our technical laboratory manager, Kara Taylor, to see if we could capture the wild yeast from fermenting beans. Spoiler alert: we did.

From there, they asked the next obvious question, can it be used to make beer? While the odds of the strain being able to ferment maltose while tasting and smelling good were slim, our team gave it a go and much to our delight, it worked!

Quick facts
Name: WLP546 Marañón Canyon Wild Cacao
Style Recommendation: Farmhouse/Saison
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium (5-10%)
Attenuation: 65-70%
Flocculation: Low
Optimum Fermentation Temp: 65-75℉ (18-24℃)
Strain Description: This yeast was isolated from the thought to be extinct Pure Nacional variety of cacao. In 2007, this rare variety with white beans was rediscovered in the remote Marañón River Canyon in Peru. The fruity, phenolic, and wild-like characteristics of this strain make it an ideal choice for farmhouse and Saison-style beers.

How to get it
WLP546 Marañón Canyon Wild Cacao is being released through the Vault, making it available for professionals to order year-round via Custom Pour packaging and must have a minimum order of 1.5L for most strains (1L for wild yeast and bacteria) and a 17-30 day production lead time.

Homebrewers can pre-order the strain on our website. Once it hits 150 pre-orders, we'll move it out of the Vault and into production!
 

IslandLizard

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This surely sounds like an interesting yeast for experimentation!

Keep us posted what you're doing with it.

I guess you're going to make a large starter and experiment away?
And save some out for posterity?
 

IslandLizard

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IslandLizard

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She has arrived!

Maranon Canyon Wild Cacao Yeast (WLP546).jpg


Now we've got to decide what to brew with her.
I was thinking about a 'Wild Cacao Mild' for starters.
 

Jocky

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I've got a vial of this too, and I plan to get it onto some slants for safe keeping, and then some trial brewing.

Personally I'd not expect chocolate from this yeast at all. Having been to a chocolate plantation, the first thing I noticed on arrival was a definite wild fermentation aroma which included a significant acetic tang - actually quite similar to the aroma at Cantillon Brewery! Having looked into it further there's a whole array of microflora that contribute to the fermentation of cacao beans that create the signature chocolate flavour.

I think I'll just start with a plain pils malt brew and then go on from there.
 

IslandLizard

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I've got a vial of this too, and I plan to get it onto some slants for safe keeping, and then some trial brewing.

Personally I'd not expect chocolate from this yeast at all. Having been to a chocolate plantation, the first thing I noticed on arrival was a definite wild fermentation aroma which included a significant acetic tang - actually quite similar to the aroma at Cantillon Brewery! Having looked into it further there's a whole array of microflora that contribute to the fermentation of cacao beans that create the signature chocolate flavour.

I think I'll just start with a plain pils malt brew and then go on from there.
The more I've been reading about this yeast, the more I'm now leaning toward Saisons or some mixed fermentation sours. But I want to taste first what this yeast exactly contributes in a simple beer. If it turns out quite acidic it won't fit most regular beer styles.

Maybe she does something interesting with her native host, the cacao beans, so one of the test batches will have cacao nibs and/or some cacao powder. That's where the Chocolate Mild comes in.
 

Jocky

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I think treating it like a pale saison or Belgian for the first brew is a good start, and the way I intend to go, as it'll tell you what the yeast does on its own. Using it as the yeast for a basic kettle sour, feels like it could be another good option.


Chocolate is a complex flavour, that is the result of a complex process of fermentation between lactobacillus, acetobacter, saccharomyces and other microflora, that gets up to 118F/48C.
 
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deadwolfbones

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Got mine in the mail yesterday. Still planning to go with a simple grisette and harvest the slurry afterward.
 

brewmeister13

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Has anyone had any results with this yeast yet? I'm debating fermentation profile and was curious if anyone had any experience with this yet.
 

IslandLizard

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Has anyone had any results with this yeast yet? I'm debating fermentation profile and was curious if anyone had any experience with this yet.
I made a starter the next day and wow, it took quite a few days to get the telltale change of color to appear. Made another starter from the crashed slurry. Got enough for 2 pitches I think, especially if making a vitality starter on brew day, or just underpitch a bit for more character.

Judging by the taste of the starter beer, the yeast is definitely spicy Saison-ish. It attenuates quite well, that starter was dry. So one will be either a straight-up Saison or a little darker one.

I'm also interested in what others have come up with.
 
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duelerx

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Have no idea even what a saison is . Never tried one . I see the word cocao I think chocolate
I highly recommend trying a Saison so you get an idea of what the flavor profile of the yeast taste like.
 

Jocky

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What are some good saisons?

Saison Dupont is the classic.

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale might be more readily available.

A saison will generally have a mix of esters and phenols, will be quite spicy, maybe with hints of herb or fruits. Fairly similar to a Belgian Pale Ale, but can be light or dark, session or strong ale.
 
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deadwolfbones

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Brewed the grisette yesterday. 1.043 OG, which given this strain's supposedly lower attenuation should still yield a nice 4%ish. Bittered with Magnum and used Hallertau Blanc for the aroma additions (up to about 25 IBU).

Starter tasted and smelled great, very saison-like.
 
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deadwolfbones

deadwolfbones

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So I kegged this yesterday. It actually finished in about 36 hours but I left it for another week to make sure it was actually done. FG 1.009, so 78% AA and 4.5% ABV.

Tastes great! However, the yeast doesn't flocc at all—it's basically like dust, any bump to the fermenter sends clouds of it swirling up into the "clear" beer, even with cold crashing. If you care about that, I'd strongly suggest using all available clarity measures (eg. whirlfloc, gelatin, filtering). It made kegging a bit of a pain, since I like to do it via gravity into a purged keg via the out post, and the swirling yeast was pulling up hop debris and other stuff.

Anyway, once it's fully carbed I'll post the results.
 
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deadwolfbones

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So, an update: Generally I like this beer fine and it's gotten better as it's aged in the keg. It's a grisette, so it's a bit thin and slight, but there's a definite fruitiness from the yeast and hallertau blanc. The phenolics are more restrained than what you'd get from 3711/3724/3726 or a typical Belgian yeast, but still more present than most American or English ale yeasts. I'm not sure I'll use it again, though I did harvest some slurry just in case.
 

drives_a_bike

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I finally got around to this yeast. Starter is going and I’m making a rye farmhouse ale. Using Junga and Jarrylo. Should come in around 4%
I’ll post results
 
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