Brewing Beyond Standard: Bringing Something New to IPAs

When was the last time you drank an IPA that truly stood out? In the vast world of craft beer, the IPA has often fallen victim to brewing the "standard". It's tried and true — often with hops like Citra and Mosaic, and yeast strains like Foggy London Ale. This makes a great beer, no doubt, but the similarity between each brewery's iterations can be striking. At Escarpment Labs, we believe in pushing the boundaries, inspiring brewers to craft unique and exciting beers that stand out on tap lists. 

But, how do we move beyond the standard? Different yeast strains are a great place to start! Try some of our suggestions below, and scroll further for the full breakdown of each strain:

  1. PomonaThe peachy champion
  2. ElysiumThe pineapple ester sensation
  3. Thiol LibreLiberate tropical thiol aromas from your hops and malt
  4. Hydra"Hazies on easy mode"
  5. House AleVersatile, clean, fast fermenting

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1. Pomona

A recent addition to our yeast family, Pomona brings a delightful blend of peach, citrus, and tropical fruit notes, along with a stable haze. It amplifies stone fruit and citrus from hops, making it an excellent choice for a well-rounded IPA. With haze-positivity and efficient fermentation, Pomona opens the door to a world of possibilities.

PRO TIP: Pomona is a great option for Double and Triple Hazy IPAs where you can go all-malt without the beer being too sweet or cloying, thanks to its higher attenuation than Foggy London Ale. To maximize peach character, we suggest pairing it with a hop known to have peachy biotransformation character, such as Simcoe. We have also tasted good results with new hop varietals like Vista, Nectaron, Cashmere, and HBC 1019. 

Key Characteristics

  • Attenuation: 75-85%
  • Optimal Temp: 18-22ºC (64-72ºF)
  • Biotransformation: Medium (Terpene flavouring)
  • Flocculation: Medium (Easy to Harvest, Repitch)
  • Alcohol Tolerance: Medium (Up to 10%)
  • Flavour Profile: Peach, Citrus, Tropical Fruit

 

2. Elysium

Strong pineapple esters and good flocculation define Elysium, offering brewers the advantage of faster turnaround times. Its balanced hop biotransformation profile makes it versatile, suitable for not only IPAs but also sours and more. Efficiency in fermentation and ease of harvesting make Elysium a valuable tool in the brewer's arsenal.

PRO TIPS: Looking to enhance the pineapple esters? Elysium can be fermented warm or with a free rise. A fermentation that starts at 22ºC and rises to 26ºC will maximize pineapple ester in Elysium. This yeast also has somewhat high nutrient requirements, so make sure it gets plenty of oxygen and Yeast Lightning. While this yeast has lower attenuation, you can add dextrose or Brewers Crystal to your wort to make it more fermentable, which can help with production of drier finishing West Coast IPAs using Elysium. Hop pairings to punch up the fruit include Amarillo, El Dorado, Citra, and BRU-1. 

Key Characteristics

  • Attenuation: 68-76%
  • Optimal Temp: 18–26°C (64–79°F)
  • Biotransformation: Medium (Terpenes and Thiols)
  • Flocculation: Medium-High (Easy to harvest and repitch)
  • Alcohol Tolerance: Medium (Up to 10%)
  • Flavour Profile: Pineapple, Guava, Lemon

 

3. Thiol Libre

Unlock bolder tropical fruit aromas without the need for extra hops or adjuncts with Thiol Libre. Thanks to thiol compounds like 3-MHA, beers fermented with Thiol Libre boast enhanced guava and passionfruit aromas. This yeast option is a game-changer for brewers seeking an extra layer of aromatic complexity.

PRO TIP: Try using hops with high amounts of bound thiols, such as Cascade, Saaz, Calypso, and Perle. We recommend experimenting with your local hop farmer's Cascade! Use these in the mash (mash hopping) and whirlpool. Borrow a thiol release pro tip from Sauvignon Blanc white wine makers: ferment cool (17-18ºC) to retain more thiol aroma, with the tradeoff of a slightly slower fermentation. With Thiol Libre, you can go lighter on the dry hop. 

Key Characteristics

  • Attenuation: 68-80%
  • Optimal Temp: 17–23ºC (63–73ºF)
  • Biotransformation: Very High
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Alcohol Tolerance: Medium
  • Flavour Profile: Passionfruit, Guava, Grapefruit

 

4. Hydra

A genetic hybrid of Cerberus and Vermont strains, Hydra offers lower attenuation for a juicier flavour profile coupled with robust mango and citrus aromatics. Ideal for hazy, hoppy beers, Hydra addresses the challenge of hop creep, ensuring a balanced and flavourful IPA. Extra wort oxygenation is recommended for optimal performance.

PRO TIP: No need to adjust your mash regime! This low attenuating strain leaves plenty of residual sugars, which is perfect for hazies. If you are struggling with over-attenuated hazy IPAs and your brewhouse lacks the capability to do a mash out step to lock in fermentability, this strain is for you. Hydra will help keep those beers juicy even with over-active mash enzymes and some hop creep during dry hop. If you want a drier finish, you can control attenuation by substituting a percentage of your malt with simple sugars. We find this strain pairs exceptionally well with Strata, Mosaic, Chinook, Cashmere, and Centennial hops, all of which benefit from terpene biotransformation. 

Key Characteristics

  • Attenuation: 65-72%
  • Optimal Temp: 20–25ºC (68–77ºF)
  • Biotransformation: High
  • Flocculation: Medium-Low
  • Alcohol Tolerance: Medium
  • Flavour Profile: Mango, Stone Fruit

 

5. House Ale EL-D1

Our dry active yeast strain, House Ale EL-D1, is the go-to option for those seeking neutrality, cleanliness, and balance. Adaptable to various recipes, it finishes fermentation and diacetyl/acetaldehyde cleanup efficiently, saving time in both fermentation and maturation. Highly repitchable, House Ale allows for easy experimentation across styles.

PRO TIP: House Ale EL-D1 is more neutral than the other options in this article, making it an excellent option to show off the natural character of your hops. You can use it anywhere you'd use a California ale strain. When used in a hazy IPA wort, it can also be used to make hazy IPAs although it is not haze-positive. This is the go-to strain for ramping up your beer production without worry in advance of the busy summer beer season. Hop pairings include highly aromatic hops that do not require much biotransformation, such as Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, and Nelson Sauvin.

Key Characteristics

  • Attenuation: 75-85%
  • Optimal Temp: 16–22ºC (61–72ºF)
  • Flocculation: Medium-Low
  • Alcohol Tolerance: High
  • Flavour Profile: Neutral, Clean, Balanced

 

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As we delve into the world of Escarpment Labs' yeast options, the potential for crafting distinct IPAs becomes not only more clear, but easily achievable. Whether you're drawn to the fruity notes of Pomona, the efficiency of Elysium, or the unique aromas of Thiol Libre, our diverse yeast lineup provides the tools needed to elevate your brewing game. Break away from the ordinary and embark on a journey of precision in yeast and passion in craft!

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