Thursday, 29 May 2014

Brew Day: Yeast Bay Wallonian Farmhouse

Bringing wort to a boilToday I brewed a batch with one of the new strains from my last Yeast Bay shipment: Wallonian Farmhouse .  I decided not to include this in my first order because I wasn’t sure if I’d like the flavour profile: “funky” is one those generic descriptions that can mean different things to different people, but one thing I do know is that I often don’t enjoy the more phenolic flavours that some brett strains give off, especially if they’re anything more than a background note (barnyard, band-aids, medicine, smoke). However after reading this post at Ales of the Riverwards, along with some other positive write-ups on HBT, I decided to give it a go.

My first thought was to use it in one of my standard pale saison recipes, but I have a lot of them on the go at the moment, so I decided to try something a little different for my first batch.  I’ve been intrigued for a while by the recipe for Saison de Pipaix in Farmhouse Ales.  The grist---58% pilsner, 40% vienna, 2% amber---is pretty different from my usual saison base of 90% pilsner and 10% wheat, and Phil Markowski’s description makes the beer sound delicious:
“Decidedly rustic with woody, fruity, iron notes on top of a malty, dryish sour backdrop.  The flavour is peppery, fruity, and dry; refreshing and pleasantly funky.  A true farmhouse ale.”
I actually bought a bottle once, based on this write up, but it was completely flat and possibly oxidized, so it went down the drain.  I’ve been wary about picking up another after this experience, so once again this is an “inspired by” beer based more on description than acquaintance.

That said, I think this yeast should be well-suited here: perhaps not for making a clone beer, but certainly for making something that fits the beer I imagine.  The blurb on The Yeast Bay website makes it sound like the strain should hit all the right notes.  First, the Farmhouse Ales recipe mentions very high attenuation, at around 92%; the Yeast Bay description says that their yeast “exhibits absurdly high attenuation, resulting in a practically bone-dry beer”. Second, Ed Markowski described Pipaix as dryish sour and pleasantly funky; the Wallonian Farmhouse strain “imparts a slight earthy funk and tart character to the beer” and is “a very mild producer of some slightly spicy and mildly smokey flavor compounds”.
The write up at Ales of the Riverwards bolstered all of this. While I’m not planning on adding any of the spices that are listed in the original recipe, Ed Coffey said of his first beer that if he told me people he’d added spices, they’d believe him.  He also said that the yeast emphasized the pilsner malt, which should work nicely with the more flavourful vienna and amber malt in the mix as well.

I decided to exercise a bit of restraint with the hops to let the yeast shine through.  The original recipe lists Hallertauer, East Kent Goldings, and Styrian Goldings, but though I had all of these on hand, I threw some Willamette and Northern Brewer into the mix to emphasize the woodsy, earthy flavours.  I gave the wort a good 40 seconds of oxygen to encourage attenuation, then set it in my fermentation chamber at 70°F. I’ll probably pull it out after 24-36 hours and let it free rise to wherever it wants to go.

Update: Tasting Notes.

Estimated O.G. 1.052
Measured O.G. 1.049
Measured F.G.
149°F 90 minutes
58% Pilsner (Dingemans)
40% Vienna
2% Amber (Thomas Fawcett)
Northern Brewer 60 23.9 IBUs (16g @ 7.5%)
Styrian Goldings 20 3.5 IBUs (15g @ 3.5%)
Willamette 20 4.8 IBUs (15g @ 4.8%)
East Kent Goldings 1 2.0 IBUs (10g @ 5.9%)
Wilamette 1 1.6 IBUs (10g @ 4.8%)
Wallonian Farmhouse


  1. Looking forward to hearing how this turns out. Have just started getting into the bottles of the beer I did with this strain, and am loving it so far.

  2. I just brewed with this yeast last weekend for the first time as well. I used a simple 70/30 pilsner/wheat base with a pound of flaked wheat. I plan on using it to blend with my sour Solera, and then add some of YB's Brussels Brett blend to it. I am looking forward to how yours turns out!

  3. Nice write up, thanks for the shout out! Looking forward to hearing what you think about the strain.

  4. I just transferred this to secondary. The spice/funk is pretty subtle at the moment, but the malt is clean and pronounced and it has a nice but restrained tartness. Hopefully further aging and bottle-conditioning will develop the flavours a little more. Thinking about brewing Ed's 'Farmer in the Rye' recipe with the yeast cake this weekend.

  5. then set it in my fermentation chamber at 70°C????? 70°C???

    1. Oops. Should be Fahrenheit, of course. Changed.