What We Do Week #5: Our Yeast

At East Rock, we use different yeasts and methods to ferment and condition our beer depending on the flavor profile we are trying to achieve.  In the brewing world, there are two main categories of yeast used to ferment beer: ale and lager.  Ale yeast comprises thousands of different yeast strains which impart a variety of flavors and aromas to a beer.  On the other hand, lager yeast is made up of only a handful of yeast strains, all of which are known for imparting a neutral flavor, resulting in an exceptionally pure and crisp finished product.  Some brewers feel these flavors add complexity to many beer styles while others feel they cover up some of the subtler malt and hop characteristics.   

Our position at East Rock is somewhere in the middle.  We love the intense banana and spice characteristics imparted by our wheat yeast.  These flavors are the hallmark of our wheat beers and we would never consider producing a wheat beer without an authentic yeast.  However, for many other beer styles where malt or hops are the primary flavor profiles, we prefer to use lager yeast.  For these beer types, lager yeast provides a clean canvas to highlight other ingredients, revealing nuances and a depth of flavor to the malt and hops that cannot be easily replicated with an ale yeast.  A great example of this is our Hopfen Lager.  Hopfen is inspired by the American Pale Ale style, a beer that is historically made with an ale yeast.  However, our take on the style uses lager yeast which results in an exceptionally clean beer with a brightness that cannot be achieved with an ale yeast. 

Next Week’s Topic:  Our Lagers!