Our latest project on our pilot brew kit here at Charles Faram was in conjunction with our friends at Fermentis to explore how suitable their S-33 yeast strain was for brewing a New England IPA. On paper, S-33 looks like it could be a good candidate; its fermentation characteristics and relatively neutral flavour profile look like they fit the bill.
The history of the strain is unclear; an extensive Google search lists its potential origin as either the UK, Germany or Belgium but the consensus seems to be that it originated here in the UK. Many of the extremely popular ‘New England’, ‘Vermont’ or ‘Conan’ strains are also rumoured to have British roots, so this could suggest that we may not be too far off.
As for the recipe itself, we decided to keep it as simple as possible to minimise any potential variations that may distort the results. We went for a malt grist of 70% pale ale malt, 20% of malted oats and 10% of wheat malt. We’re lucky in that the water here at our Malvern site requires very little adjustment for brewing however we added a touch of calcium chloride to help round the beer out and give that ‘juicy’ mouthfeel the style is so well known for. We mashed at 65°C to produce a wort that was nice and fermentable.
This may be an article that focuses on yeast, but we can’t overlook the hops! Hops are what make or break this style, we opted for Azacca™, El Dorado® and Idaho 7 . These hops and their abundance of tropical, stone fruit and citrus notes fit the bill nicely. A tiny bittering addition followed by massive whirlpool and multiple dry-hop charges give the beer its huge hop aroma and flavour.
Not being overly familiar with the yeast we kept the fermentation regime simple and chose a temperature of 21 to ensure a healthy fermentation but not too warm as to produce unpleasant off flavours. Reports about this yeast being a fast fermenting strain weren’t wrong! Primary fermentation was completed in 3 days then the dry hops were added – an equal split between the 3 varieties at a rate of 10 grams per litre. It should be noted that this yeast does benefit from extra conditioning time as it does leave a powdery haze that is reluctant to drop.
To conclude – the beer is currently still in its conditioning phase, but it certainly looks the part! Its medium attenuation rate has left a beer with good body for the hops to sit upon and while it’s still quite young, it’s showing promise. That said, it has come out a with a spicier, more continental yeast profile than predicted. While the hops still take centre stage on the aroma front, it is certainly noticeable. We’re planning to brew this beer again and tweak a couple of things; primarily the fermentation temperature, we’ll look to bring this down a touch to keep any excessive esters and unwanted yeast-character under control.