THE DELICIOUS DANCE OF AN EXPERIMENTAL, FRUIT-FORWARD YEAST STRAIN
If there’s one thing we unabashedly dabble in here, it is experimentation. Whether it be in reference to ingredients or processes, we’re always making the most of what we have. Owen, Nick and Greg consistently make a point to maximize their brewing opportunities. In this case, they did so with the repeated use of Sundew, a genetically modified strain by Omega Yeast.
We’re going on the third batch of our illustrious white IPA, Superbike. “Born from brainstorming,” a white IPA is a marriage of an American IPA and a wheat-based Belgian Whit. Greg Winget, Director of Brewing Operations, has always loved white IPAs. They were big in the 2010s – when he first got into brewing – and he found it to be a very fun, interesting style.
Belgian brewing has always been seen as a little more experimental. For American brewers growing up within the beer scene/brewing culture, this was really influential. Where German and Czech beers are very simple, clean and pure (English beers are also that, but in a different way) Belgian beers are weirder. The rules are different.
“Creative American brewers– especially in the early days when they were coming into their own, in terms of inventing new styles– were looking to those Belgian creations to figure out how to make American beer new and different,” Greg said.
With Superbike, the challenge existed in the phenolics, or, yeast-derived spice flavors (think black pepper and clove). Greg said that when making a white IPA, you have to be very careful about hop selection, because if you have something that’s very bitter, or has acridity/some piney resinous bitterness, it does not work well with spice flavors at all.
This is where Omega Yeast comes– once again– perfectly into the picture.
In their lab, the folks at Omega essentially went in and turned off the gene in a Belgian Ale strain that creates phenolic flavors. Sundew was perfect in the creation of Superbike. It had other incredible flavors like pear, stone fruit and strawberry.
“As soon as that yeast came out, I was like ‘white IPA–100%’. Because, I know I’m gonna get the character I want from Belgian yeast. That fell into place, no brainer.”
ON A SOUR NOTE
After the first two iterations of Superbike, the brewers started to think about what they could do with this “weird, boutique yeast strain” that worked so well for this very specific style of beer.
A Berliner Weisse (Bebop Tango) seemed like a solid bet.
Berliner Weisse is a variation of a wheat beer style from Northern Germany that is cloudy, sour and low in alcohol percentage
We typically use the rule of three at Wye when creating sours and seltzers– when using fruit, spices or other adjuncts in a beer, there should always be at least three flavor components. So, in seltzers and sours, the base is pretty neutral.
“In order to capture the complexity we have in all of our other beers, I want to make sure there are at least three things going on. I knew we wanted to use Sundew, just to see how that yeast interacted with a kettle sour,” Greg said. “Then, we just picked two fruits that I knew would go very well together– blackberry and tangerine. I was also hoping that that stone fruit and strawberry thing from the yeast would elevate and combine those two flavors.”
The result is wildly drinkable. Sundew brings all of the beautiful fruit to Bebop Tango that it did to Superbike– and still does so without the spice. Although it results in very separate flavor thangs in each brew, we think it is very cool how applicable a yeast strand can be in two different (but special) styles of beer.