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White Labs Burton Ale Yeast or Wyeast Thames Valley

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Earlier this year I brewed 3 pale ales with WLP023 Burton Ale Yeast. According to mrmalty, it is the same Wyeast strain as: 1275 Thames Valley Ale Yeast.

I had success with this strain, and propagated it a few times without any problems. The beer is excellent but I would like to warn fellow brewers. This strain is not suited for light ales. It is suited for deep flavored, malty amber or dark beers with higher levels of bitterness. The yeast imparts a roasted/burnt spicy flavor at the end. This addition does not compliment a light grain bill and I see it as a defect in one of my batches. I can see how the flavor goes really well with the beers matched to the high sulfate levels in the brewing water in Burton/Thames. Next time, I would use it in an IPA, Porter, Stout, Brown Ale, etc. It is a bit of a risk for a Pale Ale, or anything lighter, but you might enjoy the spicy roasted character in the aftertaste so I encourage people to try it out.

This yeast finished fermenting in about 10 days every time. It tended to get easily kicked up when siphoning. It is rated as medium flocculation, I would call it low but not super cloudy like a hefeweizen. Compared to results I got in the past with WLP002 English Ale, the beer is not as clear, but definitely has more character in the flavor profile.

I did three batches with it, playing around with hop varieties against the same grain bill (90% Pale 2-Row, 10% Crystal 40). I tried a Chinook/Centennial ale, a Nugget/Centennial ale, and an all Cascade ale. All were geared for 35-40 IBU, with the first hop listed as the bittering hop and the second hop listed as the aroma hop for 10 minutes.

In terms of attenuation (how well it converted sugar to alcohol), it is above expectations. White Lab’s website says this yeast gets 69-75% attenuation, but I got slightly higher. I was doing a one step mash at 152F for 60 minutes. The fermentation temperature was between 65-68F in the house.

Batch 1 attenuation : 76.2% FG was 1.010
Batch 2 attenuation : 77.2% FG was 1.008
Batch 3 attenuation : 82.6% FG was 1.008

The next time I do a run of pale ales I will try a different yeast variety with the same grain bill and hops to see how it changes. My bottles are almost all full again so I need to have a party or something.

  1. 5 Responses to “White Labs Burton Ale Yeast or Wyeast Thames Valley”

  2. Good to know about this yeast. I was going to try it out in a pale but it sounds like it would do well in a porter.

    BTW: In your attenuation lines you say your OG was X, I suspect you mean FG since starting at 1.008 or 1.010 would be pretty bad mash efficiency

    By James Golovich on Apr 10, 2009

  3. Hi James,
    Thanks for catching that! Yep, I meant FG, and its fixed. Have fun brewing!


    By Larry on Apr 11, 2009

  4. Hmm. I often use Thames Valley yeast in my bitters, and never have experienced that type of taste. I am wondering if the Wyeast and White Labs version of these yeasts aren’t slightly different.

    By Wahoo on Apr 30, 2009

  5. It certainly could be a different strain. Perhaps the flavor was imparted by the crystal 40, but it was only 10% of the batch, so I’m not sure that is the cause.

    By Larry on May 2, 2009

  6. After ruminating on this issue, I believe he off flavor I was tasting was probably yeast in suspension. My beers have benefited greatly from 2-3 weeks in the fridge. They are best 60-90 days after the initial brew, but are still great tasting after a year. This gives enough time for the yeast to finish their work and come to rest in the bottom of the bottle.

    By Larry on Jul 17, 2010

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