Now that the pilot system is set up, we have been really focused on experimenting with different yeast strains. We plan to use two different yeast strains for a majority of our beers—one for our American-style ales and one for the Belgian-influenced beers.
When Clay was Head Brewer at Sleeping Lady, he used a Scottish yeast strain for most of his beers. The reason he used it was because he had 15 tap handles that he needed to keep stocked with beer and that strain allowed for a fairly neutral fermentation that could produce a wide variety of styles with quick turnaround. As a home brewer I mostly used one of two different English strains in my ales.
One of the first things we did was take four different yeast strains and break up a basic pale ale recipe into four different carboys and ferment them under the same conditions with each strain. Even though we had both used all these strains before we decided it was worth the time to do a side-by-side comparison using the same batch of beer.
We used two English strains, a Scottish strain and an American strain. Although it was a very limited sampling, after the test we narrowed it down to one of the English strains and the American strain. We plan to run through some split pilot batches using these two strains before we decide which direction to go.
We did the same thing with a few Belgian strains and after a few tests it was pretty clear that we like the flavor profile and fermentation characteristics of a Trappist strain. So we plan to use that for the next few pilot batches.