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How to choose beer yeast

How to choose beer yeast?

As professional brewers, we are very careful when choosing the ingredients used in the recipe, because the recipe defines the beer we make. Developing new brewing recipes and considering which ingredients are most suitable for craft beer is the most creative and reporting content in the brewing process. The products of each brewery have unique characteristics. These characteristics are related to the recipe of craft beer and the yeast used. Whether you are brewing commercially or home brewing, selecting yeast for a specific beer style is a very critical component.
The National Collection of Yeast Cultures in the United Kingdom catalogs more than 500 strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and this list is not all-inclusive. The choices are diverse, and the type of yeast selected by the brewer does not influence the flavor and aroma of beer. The other ingredients are the same.
Several characteristics need to be considered when selecting yeast strains:


Flocculation is the ability of yeast to clump and settle at the end of fermentation, and it can help determine the clarity of the beer. Flocculation capacity is generally divided into low, medium, and high. Many British and American malt yeast strains have moderate to high flocculation properties. Most S. cerevisiae strains have low to moderate flocculation properties. Hefeweizen yeast and many Belgian yeast strains have low flocculation properties. If you are going to brew hefeweizen, the best choice is Weizen yeast with low flocculation properties, because some of the yeast should be left in the craft beer.


The degree of attenuation directly affects the flavor of craft beer, which is one of the factors that need to be considered. Attenuation refers to the process by which the sugar in the wort is converted into alcohol and CO2. Knowing the degree of attenuation of the yeast strain helps the brewer to predict the final specific gravity of the beer. Under the same conditions, one yeast can complete fermentation at 1.010, while the other yeast stops fermentation at 1.014.
  • Low: 72% and below
  • Moderate: 73% to 77%
  • Higher: 78% and above
You also need to compare the degree of attenuation between strains. The lower the attenuation ability of the yeast strain, the higher the final specific gravity. So, the more unfermented sugar remains in the beer. The amount of this residual sweetness in beer will greatly affect the final beer flavor.
Attenuation is also divided into low, medium or high, and can also be expressed in percentage ranges. For example, the decay rate of California brewer’s yeast is 73% to 80%, which is quite high. British brewer’s yeast from the same laboratory is listed as having a 63% to 70% attenuation, which is quite low. The brewer needs to know the decay of the yeast before the brewing starts. Please make a wise choice based on the actual situation.

Fermentation rate

The fermentation rate has a lot to do with the degree of attenuation. The slower fermentation rate is usually the use of low-attenuation yeast strains to produce malt beer. It is difficult to get the fermentation rate of various yeast strains in any literature about homebrewers. This is because the fermentation rate has largely nothing to do with the home brewer.

Temperature range

Most yeast strains are sensitive to temperature, and many yeast strains have an optimal temperature range. Knowing the optimal temperature range of yeast strains can provide your yeast with a suitable fermentation temperature and can do wonders for your beer.
Most American and British ale yeasts are most suitable for exercise in the temperature range of 60-70°F, and some yeasts can also raise the temperature to 70-73°F. The optimal temperature range for most lager yeasts is 50-55°F. The exception is California Common style yeast, which prefers a warm environment (around 65°F). Also, Belgian yeast not only likes warmth, but it performs best at higher temperatures. Most yeast strains have a temperature range of 60°F to 70°F or less. But, there are still some other yeast strains that like to move in wort above 75°F.

Alcohol tolerance

It is a strange natural phenomenon that yeast hinders its performance due to the by-product (also known as alcohol toxicity) produced by the yeast itself. As long as the alcohol content in beer does not exceed its tolerance to maltose, yeast can only continue its consumption of maltose.
Ordinary yeast strains can easily ferment up to 5% alcohol, and it is possible to nearly double the amount of alcohol. This depends on the health of the yeast strain and fermentation conditions. There are also a dozen or more strains that usually ferment up to 7-8%, and may reach a stable level of 12-13% under optimal conditions. In Belgium/special category, it is not uncommon for some strains to produce 10-15% alcohol, while a few selected strains can reach 20% alcohol by volume.

Flavor and aroma characteristics

Each yeast is unique. You would not expect cloves and bananas in American wheat, and it would be inappropriate for German wheat to not have these characteristics. Apart from all the above methods of measuring the performance of yeast, nothing is more important than the flavor and aroma characteristics produced by the yeast.
The most common of these aromas and flavors are in the form of esters, phenols, and alcohols. Esters are considered fruity. Phenols are considered medicinal or pungent. High-grade “hetero” alcohols (ie, propanol, butanol), when in enough quantity, can exhibit floral, wine, and even solvent flavors. For example, German Weizen has the aroma of cloves and bananas, which is the difference between it and American hefeweizen; Belgian wisdom yeast is like German yeast, but the taste is more crisp and sour.

Fermentation by-products

Fermentation by-products are another aspect of flavors and aromas. By-products include diacetyl, esters, fusel alcohols (spicy, wine-like), and other products. The advantage of using an English ale yeast when brewing an English style is the maltier profile it produces, but some English strains tend to produce detectable levels of diacetyl. While diacetyl is not necessarily a desirable character, very low but detectable levels are acceptable in many English ales. Some American ale strains are also very prone to diacetyl production. If you wish to brew a beer without this flavor profile, it would be best to select a different yeast.

Brewers' experience with yeast strains

While reading the literature about yeast strains is helpful, nothing is more important than the brewer’s experience with that yeast. The brewer needs to know the yeast well to be able to predict with confidence what the terminal gravity will be and how the final beer will taste and smell. There is nothing wrong with experimentation for the fun of it and the learning experience. But when you want to brew a certain style of beer, arm yourself with the knowledge to achieve your goal. Nothing is more rewarding than achieving what you expected.

Yeast selection conclusion

When designing the formula, the yeast selection of the finished beer should be considered. Because there are several different parameters to consider when selecting yeast, you also need to consider a large number of combinations of these factors. For example, you might want a clean, dry yeast that highlights the flavor of malt but leaves some fruity flavors. These characteristics are provided by the selection of yeast, you should be able to choose a variety of strains and a variety of different fermentation curves. This will give you the desired characteristics of the finished beer.
You can get more professional advice by looking at other people’s brewing recipes or consulting a more experienced winemaker. Of course, you can also visit the forum and ask other people, they can provide more comments and suggestions for your style. The best way to make a unique beer is to practice, practice, and practice again.
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