Lager Yeast Experiment

First question: How come all light lagers taste the same to me?

Deeper follow-up question: What’s wrong with me?

Next question: Could a BJCP judge or a Master Cicerone tell the difference between two beers fermented separately with an ale and a lager strain—both cold conditioned?

Next next question: Could they tell the difference even if they weren’t cold conditioned?

Let me start off by saying that my lager pallet is horrible. I rarely order a lager beer at a brewery because it’s going to taste like the last lager I ordered a brewery. A LOT of people disagree with me on this. A LOT of people feel if the lager has an off flavor, it exposes the brewer more because you can’t hide off flavors from lager beers. But what if one of those lagers were made with ale yeast at ale temps? Would anyone even know? In fact, you would be reducing sulfur issues right off the bat as ale yeast produces way less sulfur, if at all. You also wouldn’t need to worry about diacetyl near as much, if at all. So, it almost makes sense to make lagers with ale yeasts…don’t worry, I get worse in the next paragraph.

Let me go off on a tangent for a second in regards to brewing methods. Sometimes the beer industry, like the wine industry, can get…how shall I say it…intense. I recently heard on The Session where someone emailed in asking if they could produce a beer that wasn’t boiled. The room exploded with statement like “NO!”…”DMS!”…”PROTEIN BREAKS!” No one mentioned that raw ale is a thing. You are told early on in brewing you HAVE to boil your wort or you will get DMS (Dimethyl Sulfides) and cooked corn/vegetal flavors will for sure get into your beer. Then somewhere along the way, modern beer makers started to make Berliners with a no-boil, yet no one really talks about or understands why DMS doesn’t show up in the finish product. It’s sort of brushed under the rug.

Brülosophy did an experiment with DMS with their exBEERiments. They did a beer with Pilsner malt (one boiled for only 30 minutes, and other one for 90 minutes) to see what levels of DMS could be detected. Interesting results. I must say Brülosophy have really started to crack open and shake around “standard” brewing practices, even to my shock at times.

That tangent brings me to the main topic at hand—comparing the difference between a lager-style beer made with WLP001 ale yeast, and the other with Wyeast 2206 lager yeast, both fermented around 60F. I know some lager strains, such as the Wyeast 2124 can be brewed to success at closer-to-ale temps. What about others? This experiment has now evolved into two different experiments—one trying a lager strain at ale temps, and the other to see if there really is a discernible difference with an ale or lager yeast using a basic lager recipe.

I say it worse here:


Batch Size: 2 Gallons (split)
OG: 1.056
SRM: 4
Est ABV: 6%-ish
IBUs: 35
Boil Time: 60 Min

(100%) – 2-row

45 Min @ 150F

.15 oz (25 IBUs) Magnum (14.4% AA) @ 60 Min
.50 oz (10 IBUs) Saaz (3.5% AA) @ 15 Min

Yeast (Split):
Wyeast 2206

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 1/27/18

Cooled the wort to 63F, split the batch into two jugs, one got the WLP001, the other got Wyest 2206.

1/28/18: Activity. Temps got to 63F. Meant to have this closer to 60F.

1/29/18. Dropped the temp to 62F.

1/31/18: Dropped the temp to 60F. Going to keep it here for the remainder of fermentation. Not going to do a diacetyl rest as the lager strain won’t need it this high in temps.

2/3/18: I ended up transferring the one with WLP001 off the yeast cake as I needed the yeast for another beer, but I made sure to bring some yeast from the bottom of the jug in case it wasn’t fully done fermenting.

2/17/18: Bottled both.

3/14/18 tasting:

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