Brew Team Confidential: Yeast

We've christened 2013 the year of the yeast

Brew Team Confidential: Yeast

We’ve christened 2013 the year of yeast.

Put simply, without these kickass, little one celled organisms we wouldn’t have beer.

Now’s the time to start getting evangelical about it and understanding how different strains have a massive impact on what’s in your glass and how it got there.

We caught up with some of our brew team to find out what types of yeast are currently floating their boats:


"Ardennes is a really versatile strain of Belgian yeast. A lot of Belgian yeasts can be heavy on fruity or spicy esters but Ardennes is a lot more balanced flavourwise. We put it to use in Bashah, our collaboration with Stone, and we were surprised how well it worked. What could have been an agressively hoppy dark beer ended up being really nicely balanced with the yeast rounding out all the big flavours."

“My preferred type of yeast is Belgian Saison because it’s just so flavoursome and it imparts a really distinctive taste. It’s a traditional yeast, but it’s spicy and exciting too. And it goes with my favourite style of beer so it’s an obvious choice for me.

"Unsurprisingly Belgian Saison is used in Saison beers, like our Electric India, which we made at our shareholder brew day!”

charlottehey_620"Brettanomyces - sometimes referred to as 'Brett' - is a really interesting yeast as it gives a quite a recognisable flavour to the beers it’s used in; some people think it tastes like a barnyard or old leather, which doesn’t sound nice, but it really is in certain types of beer.

"It can be used for primary or secondary fermentation, meaning that the beer is either wholly fermented using this yeast or it is added later to give flavour without being overpowering. Brettanomyces is used in lambics and guezes including the Cantillon Gueze 100% Lambic which is currently a guest beer at our bars.”

russelllab2_620“American Ale Yeast has quite a clean fermentation and I like that. It doesn’t give a huge amount of flavour to the beer, which I think is great because it allows other flavours – like hops - to really dominate! Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA is a great beer to experience American Ale yeast in action.”

johnyeast_620“Belgian Wit has a spicy, peppery flavour so it’s right up my street. I’m a fan of it because the yeast dominates the beer more than the hops do and I love the Belgian and European beers it’s most commonly used in. Belgian Wit is used in Hoegaarden’s Celis White and pretty much all wheat beers.”

starky_620_02I’m a fan of the humble Scottish ale yeast. What’s so good about it is that it does all the nitty gritty work in the background while leaving a clean flavour so the brewer can show off what’s been done with the rest of the recipe. It’s a bit of an unsung hero…we should really hold a parade in Ellon for it to give it the recognition it deserves.”

As ever, our brew team are waiting to answer your questions on yeast; so if you’re home brewing and need advice or just want to know more, holla us in the comments box.

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Comments (14)

JohnAllenGroupie 9th September, 2013 12:58pm
I only drink Belgian Wits now.
Jack Cameron 8th September, 2013 8:04pm
Thought you might have upgraded from those blue buckets now that your brewery is slighter larger gents!!
J.A.FAN 7th September, 2013 3:33pm
Oh my god! John Allens chice of yeast is awesome. Can we have an article just about John Allen please? He's our favourite brewer.
BrewDog Charlotte 6th September, 2013 4:13pm
Ashgates, we can re-pitch the yeast once a fermentation has been finished. But we can only do it so many times, as the more generations of yeast you get through the more likely it is to suffer from mutations. These can adversely affect the fermentation, and throw out some pretty strange off flavours. We propagate yeast very regularly, so we're always fermenting with the best, so the flavours remain as good as possible!Some breweries have used the same yeast for years though, and swear it is the secret to the flavour of the beer. We like to keep our yeast young and fresh though.
Pete H., Nottm 6th September, 2013 12:35pm
Water makes up 88-96% of beer, so is important. That is why Burton On Trent became the brewing capital of England - because of the water quality there. Unless you use distilled water, it is never 100% pure. And, it's these impurities (salts) that can make such a difference to beer.After yeast has been used, it is turned into Marmite :-) If you reuse yeast for further brews, it can go wild and start producing aldehydes & ketones instead of ethanol. This is NOT good !
Rikky 5th September, 2013 10:53pm
Brett yeast guys, its unreal
C.H. 5th September, 2013 4:39pm
Would you consider, as Mikeller did, brewing the same base beer and using the different yeasts to see the differences they make?
ashgates 5th September, 2013 3:44pm
What do you do with the yeast after it's been used? I've heard that you can reuse it. Can you use it again or is that just crazy talk?
BrewDog Bowman 5th September, 2013 2:41pm
Hey Mrs Fitz,They allow us the highest level of flexibility between the various vessels and transfer pipes for our yeast plant. Pretty much, it is a really efficient way of moving yeast around the brewery and keeping it in good condition.
JCowie 5th September, 2013 12:53pm
Seconded Danny, always wondered where the water comes from, its make up and how much of a difference it makes.
dave hinkes 5th September, 2013 12:53pm
John looks like he's gonna use that yeast to exfoliate.
LDB 5th September, 2013 12:46pm
Danny, there is! google &quotbeer water treatment&quot!
Mrs Fitz 5th September, 2013 12:04pm
I have a question. What do all those plugs and valves in the top photo do?
Danny Taylor 5th September, 2013 11:29am
You guys gonna do a water post? Seen the malt, hops and now this, is there any way to look at water in different ways?