Beer Maverick

Beer Yeast: The Complete Guide

Browse 400+ Yeast Strains:

Beer would just be sugar water without yeast. Yeast chew up sugar and turn it into alcohol and a host of other by products.

For the most part, home brewers rely on two types of beer yeasts to make our favorite concoction. Ale and Lager yeasts are the two most common. While work essentially the same, there are a few minor differences between the two that make each one their own species.

Ale Yeasts (Top Fermenting)

Ale yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) rise to the top of the fermenter as they propagate and work at chewing up sugars. This is what is meant by “top fermenting”. These yeasts typically work between an ideal temperature range of 60-73 °F (18-22 °C), although some individual strains can go lower or higher than that. This temperature range is perfect for home brewers as it is fairly easy to maintain regardless of circumstances.

Some ale strains produce fruity esters while they ferment while others produce a remarkably clean profile with very little character added. Flocculation and alcohol tolerance is across the board from low to high, so no matter the beer you want to brew, an ale strain will likely work just fine.

Ale yeasts are used to of course brew ales, but also stouts, porters, wheat beers, kölsch and blondes.

Popular Ale Yeast Strains

Lager Yeasts (Bottom Fermenting)

Working at colder temperatures than Ale strains, Lager yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) also ferment much slower. Most lager yeast strains ferment at the bottom of the fermenter, and work within the temperature range of 44 to 60°F (7-15°C).

Lager yeasts are commonly average at eating all the available sugars and are highly flocculant, meaning they drop out of the beer so it becomes clear.

The colder temperatures lager work at inhibit the production of chemical products or off-flavors that can be more pronounced in ales. This is why lagers have a so-called “cleaner” taste than ales with a more pronounced malt backbone. You would use lager yeasts to brew… wait for it… lagers(!), but also pilsners, bocks, Märzens, and dortmunders.

Others

There are a handful of yeasts that are not Ale or Lager, and each one has their own special flavor and profile.

Brettanomyces bruxellensis are used to create “brett” style or tart beers and have extremely high attenuation rates. Brett yeast strains are commonly pitched in the secondary fermentation stage.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae variety diastaticus strains (sometimes identified with a STA1 label) are also known to be extremely high attenuators due to the “contamination” of the STA1 gene. Many of these strains are considered good for making Saisons.

Bacteria-positive yeasts are strains that are known to have a bacterial strain housed within them. Many of these “blends” are used for creating sour beers due to the sourness added by the bacteria. There are some yeast packets available that are 100% bacteria, which add flavor but no alcohol.

Yeast Characteristics

Each yeast strain has its own characteristics that make them unique and suitable for different bear styles. There are five major qualities that pertain to each particular yeast strain. Most of these qualities are expressed in ranges because the surrounding elements and ingredients of the beer have just as much to do with how these yeasts perform.

Attenuation

Attenuation refers to the percentage of sugars in the wort that end up being converted into alcohol. Attenuation is often referred to in either percentages or with “low”, “medium” or “high” terms.

  • High Attenuation: 78% and higher
  • Medium Attenuation: 73% to 77%
  • Low Attenuation: 72% and lower

Alcohol Tolerance

Alcohol tolerance refers to how much alcohol the yeast can sustain before becoming inactive. As the alcohol content (ABV) increases, the yeasts begin to “go to sleep” and stop fermenting. The more alcohol a yeast strain can handle, the higher the ABV will be in the finished beer.

  • Low: 5% and lower
  • Medium-Low: 4-8%
  • Medium: 5-10%
  • Medium-High: 8-12%
  • High: 10-15%
  • Very High: 15% and higher

Flocculation

Flocculation refers to the tendency of yeast to form clumps called “flocs” that drop as fermentation finishes. Yeast flocculation can be classified as high, medium, or low. Highly flocculating yeasts sink to the bottom of the fermenter more quickly and produce a clearer beer.

Optimal Temperature Ranges

As we touched on above, ale and lager strains ferment at vastly different temperatures. What doesn’t change between the two kinds is that if the temperature is too high or too low, bad things can happen. If the temperature is too low, fermentation could be slow to start or never finish. If it’s too warm, you risk producing off-flavors that’ll force you to dump the beer down the drain.

Flavor Profile

Defining a yeast strain’s flavor profile is difficult, and takes some guess work. When a manufacturer says that their strain imparts a “fruitiness”, they don’t mean that it actually adds fruit. They mean that the esters produced by the yeast kind of taste like fruits.

Yeasts can do so much to transform the final flavor of your beer. They can accentuate your beer’s maltiness or hoppiness profiles, or add fruity, sweet, or dry finishes.

Beer Yeast Database

Beer Maverick has compiled the largest and most complete yeast database anywhere online. We’ve spent months getting the attenuation, optimal temps, descriptions and more for over 400 beer yeasts.

Bootleg Biology

AURORAClassic AmericanClassic EnglishFunk Weapon #1Funk Weapon #2Funk Weapon #3NEEPAH BlendOSLOS. arlingtonesisSaison ParfaitSour Solera BlendSour Weapon LSour Weapon PThe Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

East Coast Yeast

Berliner blendBugFarmFarmhouse BrettFlemish AleKellerbierKolschbierNordic FarmhouseNorth East AleOld Newark AleSaison Brasserie BlendScottish Heavy

Escarpment Labs

American AleAnchorman AleArdennes Belgian AleArset Kveik BlendBelgian Sour BlendBerliner Brett IBiergarten LagerBrett BBrett DBrett QBrussels BrettCali AleCerberusClassic WitbierCopenhagen LagerCzech LagerDry Belgian AleEbbegarden Kveik BlendEnglish Ale IEnglish Ale IIEnglish Ale IIIFoggy London AleFruit Bomb SaisonFruity WitbierHornindal Kveik BlendIrish AleIsar LagerKolsch AleKrispyLactobacillus Blend 2.0Lactobacillus brevisMexican LagerMunich LagerNew World SaisonOld World Saison BlendOntario Farmhouse Ale BlendSaison MaisonSkare KveikSpooky SaisonSt-Remy Abbey AleSt. Lucifer Belgian AleStirling AleUberweizenVermont AleVoss KveikWeizen IWild Thing

Fermentis

SafAle BE-134SafAle BE-256SafAle F-2SafAle K-97SafAle S-04SafAle S-33SafAle T-58SafAle US-05SafAle WB-06SafBrew DA-16SafBrew HA-18SafBrew LA-01SafLager S-189SafLager S-23SafLager W-34/70SafSour LP 652

GigaYeast

A TOUCH OF SPICE BELGIAN ALEALTSTADT ALEAMERICAN LAGERBavarian HefeBELGIAN ABBEY ALEBELGIAN MIXBELGIAN TRIPELBELGIAN WITBERLINER BLENDBRITISH ALE #1BRITISH ALE #2BRUSSELS BRUXELLENSISBRUX BLENDCZECH PILSNERFARMHOUSE SOURGerman Ale YeastGERMAN LAGERGIGAYEAST LACTOGOLDEN GATE LAGERGOLDEN PEAR BELGIANHornindal Kveik #5IRISH STOUTKOLSCH BIERKveik #1NorCal Ale #1NORCAL ALE #5PORTLAND HEFEQUEBEC ABBEY ALESAISON #1SAISON #2SAISON BLENDSAISON SOURSCOTCH ALE #1SOUR CHERRY FUNKSOUR PLUM BELGIANSweet Flemish BrettTART CHERRY BRETTVERMONT IPA

Imperial Yeast

BarbarianBartlebyCablecarCitrusDarknessDieterDry HopFlagshipGlobalGnomeHarvestHouseIndependenceJoystickJuiceKaiserKveikingLokiNapoleonPOGPubRusticSour Batch KidzStefonSuburban BrettTartanTriple DoubleUrkelWhiteout

Lallemand

LalBrew AbbayeLalBrew Belle SaisonLalBrew BRY-97LalBrew CBC-1LalBrew Diamond LagerLalBrew KolnLalBrew LondonLalBrew Munich ClassicLalBrew New EnglandLalBrew NottinghamLalBrew VossLalBrew WindsorLalBrew WitSourvisiaeWildBrew Philly Sour

Mangrove Jack

Bavarian WheatBelgian AleBelgian WitBohemian LagerCalifornia LagerEmpire AleFrench Saison AleLiberty Bell AleNew World Strong AleUS West CoastWorkhorse

Muntons

Muntons Premium GoldMuntons Standard Ale

Omega Yeast

ABBEY ALE CALL THE BRETTSALTAMERICAN LAGERAMERICAN PILSNERAMERICAN WHEATBavarian Wheat IBavarian Wheat IIBAYERN LAGERBELGIAN ALE ABELGIAN ALE DBELGIAN ALE DKBELGIAN ALE OBELGIAN ALE RBELGIAN ALE WBELGIAN GOLDEN STRONGBELGIAN SAISON IBELGIAN SAISON IIBelgian WheatBIERE DE GARDEBRETT BLEND #1 WHERE DA FUNK?BRETT BLEND #2 BIT O'FUNKBRETT BLEND #3 BRING ON DA FUNKBRETTANOMYCES BRUXELLENSISBRETTANOMYCES CLAUSSENIIBRETTANOMYCES LAMBICUSBRITISH ALE IBRITISH ALE IIBRITISH ALE IIIBRITISH ALE IVBRITISH ALE VBRITISH ALE VIBRITISH ALE VIIBRITISH ALE VIIIC2C AMERICAN FARMHOUSECL-50 ALEDANISH LAGERDIPA ALEEAST COAST ALEESPE KVEIKFRENCH SAISONGERMAN BOCKGERMAN LAGER IGERMAN LAGER IIGRAND CRUGULO ALEHefeweizen Ale IHefeweizen Ale IIHornindal KveikHOTHEAD ALEIRISH ALEJOVARU LITHUANIAN FARMHOUSEKOLSCH IKOLSCH IILACTOBACILLUS BLENDLAGER ILONDON ALELutra KveikMEXICAN LAGERNORTHWEST FARMHOUSE BRETTOktoberfestPACIFIC NW ALEPEDIOCOCCUSPILSNER IPILSNER IISAISONSTEIN'S MONSTERSCOTTISH ALETROPICAL IPAVOSS KVEIKWest Coast Ale IWEST COAST ALE IIWEST COAST ALE IIIWEST COAST ALE IVWEST COAST LAGERWIT

RVA Yeast Labs

Chico AleChiswick AleHoptopper AleManchester AleOktoberfest LagerPacman Ale

The Yeast Bay

Amalgamation - Brett Super BlendAmalgamation II - Brett Super BlendBeersel Brettanomyces BlendBrettanomyces Bruxellenis TYB261BRETTANOMYCES BRUXELLENSIS - STRAIN TYB184Brettanomyces Bruxellensis - Strain TYB207Brettanomyces Bruxellensis - Strain TYB307Brettanomyces bruxellensis - Strain TYB415Brussels Brettanomyces BlendDark Belgian CaskDry Belgian AleFarmhouse Sour AleFlanders Specialty AleFramgarden KveikFranconian Dark LagerFunktown Pale AleHazy DazeHazy Daze IIHessian PilsHornindal KveikLactobacillus BlendLactobacillus brevis - Strain TYB282Lida KveikLochristi Brettanomyces BlendMélange - Sour BlendMetschnikowia reukaufii Midtbust KveikMidwestern AleNortheastern AbbeyPakruojis Lithuanian FarmhouseSaison BlendSaison Blend IISaison/Brettanomyces BlendSaison/Brettanomyces Blend IISigmund's Voss KveikSimonaitis Lithuanian FarmhouseTransatlantic Berliner BlendVermont AleWallonian FarmhouseWallonian Farmhouse IIWallonian III Farmhouse

White Labs

Abbey Ale YeastAbbey IV Ale YeastAmerican Ale Yeast BlendAmerican Hefeweizen Ale YeastAmerican Lager YeastBastogne Belgian Ale YeastBavarian Weizen Ale YeastBelgian Ale YeastBelgian Golden Ale YeastBelgian Saison I Ale YeastBelgian Saison II Ale YeastBelgian Strong Ale YeastBelgian Wit Ale YeastBelgian Wit II Ale YeastBelgian-Style Ale Yeast BlendBelgian-Style Saison Ale Yeast BlendBritish Ale YeastBurlington Ale YeastBurton Ale YeastCalifornia Ale YeastCalifornia V Ale YeastCharlie's Fist Bump YeastCoastal Haze Ale Yeast BlendCopenhagen Lager YeastCream Ale Yeast BlendCzech Budejovice Lager YeastDry English Ale YeastDüsseldorf Alt Ale YeastEast Coast Ale YeastEdinburgh Scottish Ale YeastEnglish Ale YeastFrench Saison Ale YeastGerman Bock Lager YeastGerman Lager YeastGerman/Kolsch Ale YeastHefeweizen Ale YeastHefeweizen IV Ale YeastHigh Pressure Lager YeastHornindal KveikIrish Ale YeastLondon Ale YeastLondon Fog Ale YeastMexican Lager YeastMonastery Ale YeastOktoberfest/Märzen Lager YeastOld Bavarian Lager YeastOpshaug Kveik Ale YeastPacific Ale YeastPilsner Lager YeastSaccharomyces Bruxellensis TroisSan Diego Super Ale YeastSan Francisco Lager YeastSouthern German Lager YeastSuper High Gravity Ale Yeast

Wyeast

American AleAmerican Ale IIAmerican LagerAmerican WheatBavarian LagerBavarian WheatBavarian Wheat BlendBelgian Abbey Style AleBelgian Abbey Style Ale IIBelgian ArdennesBelgian Dark AleBelgian High GravityBelgian Lambic BlendBelgian SaisonBelgian Schelde AleBelgian StoutBelgian Strong AleBelgian Style BlendBelgian WheatBelgian WitbierBerliner Weisse BlendBière de GardeBohemian LagerBritish AleBritish Ale IIBritish Cask AleBudvar LagerBurton IPA BlendCalifornia LagerCanadian/Belgian AleCzech PilsDanish LagerDenny's Favorite 50 AleEnglish Special BitterEuropean LagerFarmhouse AleFlanders Golden AleForbidden FruitFrench SaisonGambrinus Style LagerGerman AleGerman WheatHella Bock LagerIrish AleKolschKolsch IILondon AleLondon Ale IIILondon ESB AleMunich LagerMunich Lager IINorth American LagerNorthwest AleOctoberfest Lager BlendOld Ale BlendOud Bruin Ale BlendPacmanPilsen LagerPilsner Urquell H-StrainRingwood AleRocky Mountain LagerRoeselare Ale BlendSaison-Brett BlendScottish AleStaro Prague LagerThames Valley AleThames Valley Ale IIWeihenstephan WeizenWest Coast IPAWest Yorkshire AleWhitbread AleWyeast Bohemian Ale Blend

Yeast  Largest Yeast Database

Beer Maverick has compiled the largest and most complete yeast database anywhere online. We've spent months getting the attenuation, optimal temps, descriptions and more for over 400 beer yeasts. Browse all yeasts »