Monthly Archives: February 2015

Tasting Impressions: Sim/arillo IPA

The ‘single malt’ IPA, hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo, that we brewed slightly over a month ago, has now been in the keg for around three weeks. This means it’s time to write up some tasting notes of the beer, while its still at its prime. Quite a lot of trub ended up in the fermenter as we transferred from the boil kettle, and it seems to have had a positive effect on the clarity of the beer. It was crystal-clear when transferred to the keg, despite using US-05 and no cold crash, and only had the slightest chill haze when served. It looks cloudier in the picture below, because of condensation on the outside of the glass. Anyways, to the tasting notes!


The beer pours with a golden color with slight hints of orange. It is surprisingly dark for a malt bill of only Maris Otter. As mentioned, there is a slight amount of chill haze, that disappears as the beer warms up in the glass. A white, oily foam head is formed during the pour, and it collapses slowly leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. A really nice, and very typical, appearance for an IPA.

The beer is really exploding with hop aroma, and it just jumps to your face out of the glass as you close in. There are tones of citrus (specifically grapefruit), pineapple, pine resin and floral perfume. A really nice and fresh hop aroma, that is really hard to find from commercial beers (at least here in Finland, when the time from bottling to serving can be several months). Not much other hops in the aroma, which is the way I like it for IPAs.

The flavor is mostly hop-dominated as well, with very little presence of any malt or yeast tones. The flavor begins with hints of biscuits and malts, but these are instantaneously overtaken by a resiny hoppiness. While the aroma was very fruity, the flavor draws more towards the resiny, piney, earthy and grassy part of the spectrum. There are slight tones of grapefruit in the background as well, but these are more subtle than what could be found in the aroma. The flavor finishes dry and with a hefty bitterness that suits the style. The mouthfeel is dry and light, and the carbonation level is medium-low, which I think suits the beer well. A typical West Coast IPA, with a flavor that is solely focused on the hops and that finishes dry and bitter. Even though the aroma was amazingly fruity, I wish the beer had slightly more of those tones in the flavor as well. Otherwise a really nice homebrew!

Generating new lager yeast hybrids

For my PhD thesis, I’ve been researching the flavour- and stress-related properties of brewing yeast hybrids. It has been known for some time that lager yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) is actually a hybrid species, and that one parent was the well-known ale yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In 2011, the other side of the family, Saccharomyces eubayanus, was discovered. This discovery has allowed for the improved characterization of lager yeasts, and also opened up the possibility to create new tailor-made lager yeast strains. This is possible through mating of selected strains from the two parent species.

graphical abstractThis is exactly what I’ve been doing during the past year, and I’m happy to announce that we recently published our first results (New lager yeast strains generated by interspecific hybridization) in the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. We mated a strongly flocculent production ale strain (from a brewery in the UK) with S. eubayanus, to produce lager yeast hybrids which performed better than the parent strains, and inherited beneficial properties from both. This will open up the possibility to produce a range of new lager yeast strains, with e.g. interesting flavour production and increased stress tolerance. We already have plenty of new interesting hybrid combinations that I’m looking forward to characterizing. I will post more details in a later post, but in the meanwhile feel free to read the publication if you are interested, it is Open Access!

Link to the publication:


The interspecific hybrid Saccharomyces pastorianus is the most commonly used yeast in brewery fermentations worldwide. Here, we generated de novo lager yeast hybrids by mating a domesticated and strongly flocculent Saccharomyces cerevisiae ale strain with the Saccharomyces eubayanus type strain. The hybrids were characterized with respect to the parent strains in a wort fermentation performed at temperatures typical for lager brewing (12 °C). The resulting beers were analysed for sugar and aroma compounds, while the yeasts were tested for their flocculation ability and α-glucoside transport capability. These hybrids inherited beneficial properties from both parent strains (cryotolerance, maltotriose utilization and strong flocculation) and showed apparent hybrid vigour, fermenting faster and producing beer with higher alcohol content (5.6 vs 4.5 % ABV) than the parents. Results suggest that interspecific hybridization is suitable for production of novel non-GM lager yeast strains with unique properties and will help in elucidating the evolutionary history of industrial lager yeast.

Homebrew: Tasting comparison of sour ales

It is finally time to post some tasting impressions of the ‘plain’ and ‘berry’ version of the sour ale I brewed about 1.5 years ago. I’ve had a couple of bottles of both during the winter, and they are interesting beers. I’m not a big fan of sour ale, but I actually like the plain version. The berry version has otherwise been quite nice as well, but it has had a strange aftertaste that really takes away from the drinkability. We’ll see if it is still present in the beer today. I added berries to the majority of the batch (~12 liters), and only bottled six 33cl bottles of the pre-berry version. This was a mistake I’ve now realized, as I’m already down to my last bottle of the plain version. So, note to self: if I ever brew something similar in the future, bottle half the batch before adding any flavorings. All in all it was an interesting experiment, that I hope to repeat at some point. Right now though my priorities are on getting our new homebrewery up and running, so that we can start brewing again. Anyways, let’s see how the sours taste.


Sour Ale
The beer pours crystal-clear (quite a difference to the extremely cloudy wort resulting from the turbid mash) and with a deep golden-amber color (reminds me of apple juice). The aroma is quite tart, with (what I guess is) lactic acid lending the sour tones. There are some fruity tones present as well, which again bring my thoughts to apple juice and cider. A slight funkiness in the aroma as well, but overall it is very ‘clean’ for a (pseudo-)lambic. The flavour is also tart, but by no means as sour as many commercial examples of the style. This one clocked in at a pH of 3.7, which is relatively high for a sour ale. This suits me fine though, as I really don’t like the mouth-drying sourness of some lambics. Tones of apple, grains and slight citrus are present in the flavour. The finish is surprisingly sweet (the FG was 1.010), but it goes well with the mild sourness. This reminded me a lot of a tart apple cider, and I’m actually positively surprised over how this one turned out. A real shame this was my last bottle. How does the Berry version compare then?


Berry Sour
The beer pours clear and with a pretty red color and a pink foam head. While the plain version had a very clean aroma, this one is much more funky. The aroma is more aggressively sour and funky, with a slight cellary/musty twang to it. Behind this, there are very evident tones of raspberry as well. The blueberries are more hidden, even thought I added three times as much compared to the raspberries. The berries are nice, but I think I prefer the clean cider-like tones of the original. The flavour is slightly more sour than the original, perhaps as a result of the added fermentables and the acids in the berries. Raspberry is dominating the flavour, but there are some tones of apple, blueberries and cherry in the background. The aftertaste is drier than the original, and it is unfortunately plagued by a slightly sharp and musty aftertaste. Not really sure what has caused it, maybe mold or the berries themselves? Would be interesting to hear opinions from somehow who actually loves sour beer. Anyways, not a bad beer, but I would find it more enjoyable if it was a little less sour and funky, and the berry flavors were cleaner.

If I were to brew another sour, I would also be more careful with introducing oxygen. The beer had a thick pellicle the whole one-year fermentation (sign of oxygen), and I think especially the berry version might have some tones of acetic acid.