Q&A: Lager Yeast

Jordan Pratt, a brewer for Peticolas Brewing Company, located in Dallas, says that the eight-year-old brewery has only used one Lager recipe and the yeast they used in that recipe was White Labs WLP830 as the brewery was working on innovation products.
“It was chosen since it met the goal of the recipe which was to make a very clean and crisp lager,” Pratt explained.
Chuckanut Brewery Brewmaster Will Kemper has been brewing up European style Lagers since we opened Thomas Kemper Brewery on Bainbridge Island in 1984. He’s set up breweries across the US, Monterrey, Mexico and Istanbul, Turkey. Kemper returned to Bellingham, Washington to open his own brewery in late July, 2008. Recently, Chuckanut rolled out its Citra Leaf Pilsner in the late Winter of 2020 as its hoppy Lager of choice for a year-round product.
Using Yakima Chief Citra leaf hops in a basic Chuckanut Pilsner recipe, this beer is for the hophead that wants a clean, citrus inspired crispy Pilsner. Chuckanut intends to continue to brew this delightful hoppy lager year round.

BREWER: What types of Lager yeast does your brewery use most and why?
KEMPER: Chuckanut uses SafLager 34/70 in all our Lagers because it’s dependable, very active, clean and can produce a variety of Lagers.

BREWER: What sets WLP830 Lager yeast apart from other types in your opinion?
PRATT: This particular strain is known for producing a clean flavor. Strong sulfur, fruity, and other flavors some yeast produce was not wanted for this recipe. It also tends to emphasize the hop characteristics more than the malt.

BREWER: Are there any technical challenges or tips you have for using it for someone that hasn’t used it yet?
KEMPER: If you haven’t used 34/70, you should! But do your homework with any Lager yeast. Make sure to remove the traubs because Lager yeast holds on to a lot of undesirable flavors that you don’t want in your Lager beers.

BREWER: What did you expect … and didn’t expect from using WLP830? How did you use those expectations or new discoveries to your advantage or alter the idea of the brew?
PRATT: The diacetyl rest took longer than expected and Lagering took a full three months to achieve a bright beer. Since we don’t have a filter we can’t alter the length of time it holds up a vessel so we have to be strategic in when we brew it to make sure we have the tank space.
KEMPER: We expect consistency and pureness of flavor. 34/70 is not a quirky yeast and if done well it presents the hop/malt character of the beer without any off-flavors. There is no simple yeast for Lager beers. There are difficult factors with all yeast but if you know what you are doing the 34/70 yeast will work well. Yeast is not a simple matter! Read, study and learn from those before you and get the scientific information you will need to handle your yeast to its best advantage.

BREWER: Do you have any ‘out of the box’ ideas for that Lager yeast that you want to share?
PRATT: Not yet as this was our first time using a Lager yeast but due to the results and success of our first beer using it we are excited to work with it again and experiment a bit more.

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