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Stella & Guinness Brewing Yeast?
November 18, 2007 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Beer brewing yeast to match my favorite brands?

I am interested in brewing some beer. I've seen several instructionals on the internet and it seems pretty straightforward. I am in the process of gathering the necessary equipment and supplies.

I understand that the yeast variety (in addition to all the other factors of course) is key. I am looking for yeasts which will produce flavors similar to my two favorite import beers: Stella Artois and Guinness. Are the actual yeast strains used in these beers available?

Are there mitigating factors which make brewing beer similar to these styles difficult? Any special brewing tips for beers of these varieties are also appreciated. Thanks.
posted by jjsonp to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeast variety isn't very important at all, once you get done deciding whether to use ale yeast or lager yeast.. The most important thing by far is the malt.

It is not hard at all to create a home brewed beer that is similar to Guinness; I did so about 25 years ago back when I was a home brewer.

But you're not going to get it exactly right.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:42 PM on November 18, 2007


According to my brewing books, Guinness’ unique taste is due to a small amount of spoiled beer added to each batch. So if you want to truly clone Guinness, you’ll need to make a sacrificial batch.

In my last batch of stout, I used White Labs English Ale yeast. That strain will probably get close to Guinness with the right grains and hops.
posted by ijoshua at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2007


Check out someone like Wyeast, they have a style guide for home enthusiasts that helps you figure out what you want to duplicate. They've also got a handy distributor locator, and the folks at the brew shop will have more info as well.

As for whether it's important, you definitely wouldn't want to get one of the Belgian Brettanomyces strains when you're trying to make a nice English ale...
posted by pupdog at 5:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Either Wyeast 1084 or White Labs WLP004 for Guinness.

Wyeast 2042 wouldn't be too far off for Stella.

This list is a good reference.

Most homebrewing shops can help you out with a recipe that's a rough approximation of either. For a Stella clone, or any lager recipe, you really need to get an extra fridge and thermostat to keep the fermentation in the proper temperature range. You can get away with room temperature fermentation for most ales.
posted by sardonista at 5:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Guinness is easy, the Stella not so much so. Anyway, you need to have a few dozen or perhaps many more, batches under your belt before you will be skilled enough with the recipes to start matching commercial brews. Start out with a few easy ales, and then perhaps try a few lagers.

The Guinness is reasonably reproducible, recipes abound and you can find a good Wyeast to match. Stella is a lager and a light one. These are far more challenging. The light taste and lager aspect magnify any defects. If your sanitation and general process are solid then you are in better shape. To make it more difficult, lagers are quite hard to get right unless you are brewing with whole or at least partial grain. Powders just don't cut it with these light beers.
posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on November 18, 2007


What you are talking about is called zymurgy- the study and use of fermenting yeasts. Yes there are huge differences amongst various yeasts. Try Wyeast as recommended above, The best advice is to contact your local homebrewing supplier or club.
posted by Gungho at 7:07 PM on November 18, 2007


When it comes to homebrew, there are three basic kinds: Ales, lagers, and steam beers.

For a lager you need a spare refrigerator, because the long term ferment (weeks) needs to take place cold.

For the other two, room temperature is good enough. An ale is made with ale yeast. A "steam beer" is fermented at room temperature, using a lager yeast, and that's what I always made.

You don't have to refrigerate using a lager yeast, and the advantage is that a steam beer doesn't infect as easily as an ale does. We only had one batch go bad, and that was a weird one. Every all-malt steam beer we ever made came out excellent.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:52 PM on November 18, 2007


My homebrewing husband has had a couple go's at producing a Guinness clone too. He pointed me to this forum posting he made about it. He says the bit about adding some "spoiled" beer is a little bit of a myth, and whether or not you want the sour flavor depends on which variety of Guiness you're trying to duplicate. (Note: There are several.)
posted by web-goddess at 9:27 PM on November 18, 2007


I've had bad experiences using dried yeast, but there are a couple of better options. If there's a brewer near you, go with a clean glass bottle and see if you can beg a little of their yeast starter. Alternatively, find a bottle of a bottle-conditioned beer in the style you want to brew. Leave it for a few days stored upright to settle, carefully pour off (and drink - yum!) all but the last couple of cm, then pour off the residue into a clean glass bottle with some sugar to feed further fermentation and a little distilled water. Stuff the top with cotton wool (to keep airborne yeast out and let vented gases escape), and wait for a few days until fermentation is visibly roaring. Add it to your beer at the same stage you would add processed yeast. I brewed a batch of beer this way using the yeast from a bottle of Spitfire, and it tasted indistinguishable (to me at least); it ended up about 1% ABV stronger, although that is more due to the sugar density in the wort than the yeast.

Can't help you with brewing Stella (yuk), but you can definitely still get bottle conditioned Guiness if you look around though. Do bear in mind that bottled and draft / canned Guiness taste very different though. Begging at a brewery may well be your best or only option for the lager, as I'm not aware of any commonly available bottle conditioned lagers in that continental style.
posted by bifter at 3:02 AM on November 19, 2007


I've had bad experiences using dried yeast, but there are a couple of better options. If there's a brewer near you, go with a clean glass bottle and see if you can beg a little of their yeast starter. Alternatively, find a bottle of a bottle-conditioned beer in the style you want to brew. Leave it for a few days stored upright to settle, carefully pour off (and drink - yum!) all but the last couple of cm, then pour off the residue into a clean glass bottle with some sugar to feed further fermentation and a little distilled water. Stuff the top with cotton wool (to keep airborne yeast out and let vented gases escape), and wait for a few days until fermentation is visibly roaring. Add it to your beer at the same stage you would add processed yeast. I brewed a batch of beer this way using the yeast from a bottle of Spitfire, and it tasted indistinguishable (to me at least); it ended up about 1% ABV stronger, although that is more due to the sugar density in the wort than the yeast.

Can't help you with brewing Stella (yuk), but you can definitely still get bottle conditioned Guinness if you look around though. Do bear in mind that bottled and draft / canned Guinness taste very different though. Begging at a brewery may well be your best or only option for the lager, as I'm not aware of any commonly available bottle conditioned lagers in that continental style.
posted by bifter at 3:05 AM on November 19, 2007


Sort of tangentially related to what web-goddess noted above, part of what makes Guinness Guinness is the nitrokeg dispense. You can make a stout, but it's unlikely to be much like Guinness if you can't get the creamy head right. Even the widget thingies are only an approximation for draught Guinness.

I would also agree with what caddis said. You're not going to nail these recipes in one. Some in the homebrew community would no doubt make disparaging remarks about the point of homebrewing being to make better beers than a Stella clone. But if it's your favourite beer, well, why not have a go at a basic lager and see how it goes. Lager recipes look simple, but the mechanics of getting it right are confoundingly complex. If you haven't heard of a diacetyl rest , you might want to take smaller steps before you head into lager brewing.
posted by sagwalla at 3:07 AM on November 19, 2007


I've been brewing for almost a decade, and I've never had a batch go foul. If you really feel like you need to exactly approximate a beer (and you won't be able to, btw---they're like Coca Cola, they spend lots of money to make sure you *can't*), I recommend this book: Clone Brews.

With that said, I'd check out northern brewer, or any of 10 zillion other homebrew sites for kits, and order a couple, and make them. It won't take very long at all for you to learn what different yeasts behave like, attenuate to, and the taste they add. Same goes for hops and sugar. Hops obviously affects the bitterness, while sugar affects the texture more than the taste.

Also, do yourself a favor and brew in glass instead of plastic.

One more thing---I wanted to draw attention to what sagwalla said---one of the biggest draws of guiness is the smoothness and the texture, both are achieved because it's not CARBONATED, it's NITROGENATED. (Is that a word? Sounds like hydrogenated when I say it). You aren't going to be force carbonating anyway, you'll be naturally carbonating, so you'll never be able to get the tiny smooth bubbles.
posted by TomMelee at 6:10 AM on November 19, 2007


Thanks for all the great info everyone! I'm looking forward to making some nice beer.
posted by jjsonp at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2007


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