7.28.17 – Blending Dry Yeast – Ball & Chain Pale Ale

Original brew day – 6/18/17 

I love homebrewtalk.com.  I frequent the forum under the username Ruckusz28.  A few weeks ago I discovered a captivating thread posted by user isomerization.  You can check it out here. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=623221).  In summary, the poster is a biochemist and began picking apart Tree House beers to discover what yeast they use.   As many have suspected, he identified several strains.  To my surprise, it appears that Tree House uses DRY YEAST.  Spoiler alert: the yeast strains are

Safale US04- English ale yeast.  Fast fermentation with high flocculation.  Temps 64-75F.

Safale T58- Known for a slightly peppery flavor with some spice.  Belgian properties.  Temps 59-75F.

Safale WB06- Wheat ale yeast.  Produces estery and phenol types of Bavarian style beers.  Finishes high.  Temps 59-75F

Danstar CBC-1- Cask and bottle conditioning ale yeast.  High alcohol tolerance.

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I brewed the beer before the above information was available.  For the sake of progress, I took a shot on Safale S33.  When brewing Ball & Chain, I usually go for a Chico yeast strain.  Since I know this recipe and profile so well, this becomes a suitable base to test the yeast blend.

Grains/Fermentables:

German Pilsner

Carapils

Honey malt

HOPS:

Cascade

Centennial

Simcoe

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Calcium Chloride

YEAST:

Pitched directly – no starter or rehydration.

50% Safale US-04

25% Safale T-58

25% Safale S-33

I did a full-volume no-sparge mash at 150F with a ph of 5.2.  I did a 60 minute boil with hop additions at 60 minutes and 5 minutes with a flame out addition that was held for 20 minutes allowing the wort to cool naturally to 170F.  I did not use any irish moss or Whirlfloc this time.  My OG came in at 1.060.  After cooling, I did not oxygenate the wort.  I directly pitched my yeast blend and began fermentation at ambient temperatures (70F).   My heater belt is no longer working (cheap junk… I on got 2 uses out of i!) but the internal fermentation temperature was 74F.

Airlock activity began a few short hours after pitch.  The next morning, one of the most intense aromas that I have ever smelled filled my entire house.  I then pitched my dry hops.

Note that I don’t buy in to the “biotransformation” theories that float around out there.  Adding hops during active fermentation does not create a magic transformation from beer to juice.  Here’s why I did it; I’m shooting for a fast turnaround.  Grain to glass in 9 days.  To get in a double dose of dry hops in with my current process, I either have to add time (which is a deal breaker) or dry hop early.  I choose the latter.

4 days following fermentation the beer had reached 1.009 and still had some “sparkling” activity.  I did NOT see that coming.  I racked the beer from my fermenter to the conditioning keg atop bagged dry hops.  I purged the keg of oxygen, pressurized to 10psi, and attached my spunding valve.   The beer sat for 48 hours in the warm before being cold crashed and transferred to the serving keg where it was force carbonated to desired volumes.

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The resulting beer is dry and crisp with a hint of a spicy Belgian thing.  I would believe this was a wheat IPA if I were told so.  It is reminiscent of Sharpshooter IPA by Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland.  Sharpshooter is one of my summertime go-to beers, so this profile being in Ball & Chain works.  Check out that haze too!  No flaked anything – no adjuncts in this one.   For the record, you do not need oats to make NEIPA.  However, this is not a NEIPA and it was not intended to be.  This is a far cry from Tree House flavor profile.  It’s a good beer that suits my efforts to make an easy drinking summer crusher.  I will continue efforts using these yeasts until I can nail the fruit-stripe bubble gum flavors that make Tree House beers so multi-dimensional.   Stay tuned.

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