HomebrewCon 2022 | Talk Notes | Comparison of 5 different yeast strains in a German Helles

This was one of the interactive presentations in which the speaker had made available five different types of beer which were handed out throughout the presentation. The idea behind this presentation was to see what the difference was between different yeast strains to see if one could tell the difference. With this talk being very interactive I didn’t take a lot of actual notes but the overall aspect of the talk was interesting.

The speaker is from the Akron / Cleveland area and their club has access to a system that can produce something like 30 gallons (about 113L) of wort at a time. The wort was split across a number of kegs and then different strains were used. Three of the yeasts that were used were W-34/70, S-23 and Lutra and they stand out because I’ve used these or they were top of mind1. The two other strains were liquid though I’m not super familiar with them. I believe one was an Ayinger (or Augustiner) strain and the other was another strain from a large German brewery. Unfortunately, you’ll need to wait for the slides to come out to get the exact strains.

While the samples were being handed out it was very difficult to tell the difference between each beer. They turned out to all be quite estery, with aromas that I was describing as “Fruity Pebbles” and similar. Deeper into the talk the presenter showed the cell counts for each of the pitches which helped add a bit of explanation to why these beers were all so fruity. All the beers ended up being quite under-pitched vs what should’ve happened for a standard lager pitch. About 480 million cells were required but all the pitches had counts of half that, or even less. Looking at the numbers though, the beers were all very consistent and had all hit the same terminal gravity. Lutra was the exception where it finished a little bit higher, but that’s been my experience with Kveiks in the past also.

While I would not have called these beers a Munich Helles, none of them were bad. If I was told they were all Kolsch’s I don’t think I’d have any complaints. Unfortunately, as the style there were off base but would be in the high 20’s, maybe low 30’s if put into competition. However, if I was given an underpitched lager and a beer made with Lutra I’d have a very difficult time telling the difference between the two.

While the result of the beers might not have been what the speaker was hoping for, I hope this gave other attendees some ideas for something they could do as a club. It would be awesome for a club to have a way of producing large quantities of wort for a trial like this. Definitely something I want to try and figure out for a meeting to make them a bit more interactive!

  1. The swag bags came with a Dry Lutra + Propper Seltzer Nutrients

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About Chris

If there is a place that serves or sells beer I've never heard of, I'll find a way to get there. A fan of the humble Pale Ale, though always willing to try a pint of something new. I also enjoy brewing my own beers and love sharing the science of the beer making process.