Formerly known as “Abbaye yeast”, SafAle™ BE-256 active dry yeast by Fermentis is the perfect partner for a wide range of Belgian beers: Dubbel, Tripel, Quad, and of course abbey styles. In addition to Belgian beer styles, SafAle™ BE-256 can be a perfect ally for many other beers: stout, porter, Belgian IPA, etc. The sky is the limit when we talk about homebrewers’ creativity!
About the Fermentis Make Your Choice Program
To help brewers and homebrewers choose the best yeast for their beers, Fermentis started the Make Your Choice Program (MYC Program). The aim of this program is to guide and inform brewers about the promises and mainly the flavor expression of their yeasts. Everything started with the Baseline Flavor & Aromas, a sensory study conducted in a standard condition that mapped and represented the position of beer yeast according to its three important and general fermentation flavor profiles: fruity, spicy or neutral characters.
The second step of the MYC Program consists of a deeper characterization of each yeast under different fermentation conditions. With broader technical and organoleptic information, Fermentis tries to provide brewers everything they need to know about SafAle™ BE-256’s fermentation behavior and its detailed sensory expression.
As shown on the graphic above, this yeast has a strong fruity characteristic which is why SafAle™ BE-256 is well suited for a diversity of Belgian type beers. Considering the importance of the fruitiness character, Fermentis wanted to evaluate how process parameters (such as wort density, fermentation temperature, and pitch rate) affect the fruity flavor profile produced by this strain.
Understand the fruitiness character and play with it
The fruitiness character expressed by the yeast is crucial in many beer styles so it’s important for you to understand it and how to express it in your beer if it’s what you’re looking for. When we talk about the fruitiness character of a yeast, we mainly refer to its capacity to produce esters such as ethyl-acetate.
What are esters? Simply put, esters are co-products produced by yeast metabolism while the sugars in wort are converted into alcohol. Depending on their genetics, yeast strains have more or less capacity to produce these esters. SafAle™ BE-256 has the capacity to generate a lot of these esters, especially isoamyl-acetate. This ester is responsible for banana notes which are desirable in some beer styles.
What fermentation conditions which will impact the fruitiness character the most so the brewer can maximize it, or if warranted, to reduce it
Original gravity has the biggest impact on the fruitiness character in the final beer. With the different gravities studied (12, 16 and 20°P), Fermentis has demonstrated that there is a strong positive correlation between original gravity and fruitiness perception in the beer. A higher density of wort will also release more fusel alcohols (sensory alcohols and warmth perception in mouth) and leave more residual sugars in the beer (sweetness perception and beer body).
Pitch rate & fermentation temperature have less impact on the fruitiness character. Doubling the pitching rate, therefore, won’t maximize the fruitiness potential of the yeast. However, pitch rate & temperature will have other impacts. For example, the higher the fermentation temperature, the shorter the fermentation time and the diacetyl level. You can see some of the conditions studied by Fermentis on the different graphs below. Click here if you want more information about SafAle™ BE-256 and this study.
Finally, the fruitiness character (especially banana notes) will always remain the principal characteristic of SafAle™ BE-256 but now that you understand it better, you are free to emphasize it or not, especially by playing with the original gravity of your wort. These fruity notes are obviously interesting in Belgian beer styles, but they could also be a great addition to your next stout or porter. As usual, experiment homebrewer, the final call is yours!