Monday, March 17, 2008

London ESB vs. American 2

Up next on the brewing radar is a slew of back-to-back split batches to find out how two yeast strains ferment similar batches of boiled wort. The results should be very interesting, hopefully leading to a solid understanding of their overall contribution and individuality.

Two 4 gallon batches will result from the runnings of one large mash. Each will have the same water profile, original gravity, and ferment side-by-side. Each will be hopped with different varietals, yet have a similar schedule and IBU level/ounces at each contribution. I don't mind changing the hops in a subtle way, because the yeast will still contribute a lot of character in these beers.

An important thing to remember when boiling split batches is to stagger them. As one batch is chilling, the final hop additions are added to the second batch. This prevents late additions in the second batch from becoming "muddy" or aromatically "lost." Since I normally brew with two pots, I tend to stagger them, or consolidate late additions into the larger pot. This has made a big difference in the aromatics of all my brews.

My experience with these Wyeasts is very limited. I've only used American 2 twice, a long time ago, with good results. I've never used London ESB. Already, in their starter jugs, each strain looks completely different. I've noticed most English strains have a "clumpy" nature and a "fluffy" look, with bubbles that form beneath the surface of the yeast cake, then carry a clump as they rise through the beer to the top. The American 2 strain seems much more fine and compact. Already, it looks like American 2 completes fermentation quicker, while the ESB remains slowly active.

Navigate to
the other posts
in this series...

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3


Travis said...

My experience with LESB is that it moves at it's own pace. where I'm normally able to rack over after 4 days, it's usually 5-6 days with the ESB. If it's a big beer, even longer. Good experiment.

Ted Danyluk said...

Thanks. Interesting. I will brew a new batch to go over the yeast cakes every 2 weeks. No secondary for these. Just bottle them, and then rack new wort right over. I let all my beers go about 2 weeks in primary.

I'm expecting to still see some activity with the ESB at bottling time.

Kevin LaVoy said...

From what I've read, that is exactly how the English Ale yeasts are supposed to work. In fact, I'm doing a pale ale next, and selected the American for that exact reason. The London yeast was going to be fine for the batch I am doing next, but wasn't really what I was looking for on the batches I was going to do subsequently.

I'm finding that a lot lately. Since I'm trying to harvest yeast, I'm basically trying to plan out what I'm going to be brewing all summer, and pick the yeast to be the best for as many batches as possible. Right now, I'm guessing I'll need two different yeasts to get me through. My other option would be to just take over the fridge with jars of harvested yeast, but I think my wife would probably take issue with that.

Ted Danyluk said...


I like what you are trying to do. I figure in after a year or two, or more, I may find my favorite ale yeast. One that I can re-use indefintiely, on that gives me the results I prefer for most every batch. Kindof like how Rogue operates.

Planning many batches in a row, or in some sort of sequence, and reusing the yeast, is really the best way to go. Glad to see you doing that. I tend to plan out many batches in a row. In this case, I'm planning two batches at a time...should be good times. Lots of good brew to try out and compare!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and plans.

Adam said...

Let me know if the ESB turns out sweeter. I've used an English Ale yeast before and found that it fell out of suspension before all the malt was converted.

Gotta love playing with and controlling the variables :-)

Ted Danyluk said...

Thanks Adam,

If I find either strain settling out early, I may give the carboy a good twist, to get the yeast into suspension a bit.

Jason said...

"I figure in after a year or two, or more, I may find my favorite ale yeast. One that I can re-use indefintiely, on that gives me the results I prefer for most every batch. Kindof like how Rogue operates."

Harpoon does the same. they use the same (their own) ale yeast for all batches.

Ted Danyluk said...


Over the years, I've become much more aware of the beer styles I prefer and the yeast strains that perform the best for my tastes. Though, I will always be experimenting, I expect to settle on a few strains. With time and experience, most brewers eventually find their favorites. You will too. But the more styles you like (I like a lot), the more yeast strains and styles you need to explore, so it may take many years to establish a good understanding.