In my never ending quest to dial in my recipes, I’ve been trying to decide on a house yeast for most of my ales. I’ve used both Conan and London Ale III and really liked what both have to offer, but which yeast better fits my needs? If you read my Part 1, you’ll see my thoughts on both of these yeasts. Well, The only way to determine which yeast I like better for sure is to do a side by side comparison! I took a pale ale recipe that I haven’t brewed yet, but had been meaning to. I did a 3.5 gallon batch.
3.5 Gallon Batch Size
.5# White Wheat
5oz Caramalt 15L
.5# Flaked Oats
2oz Acid Malt
.25oz Warrior 60 min
.5oz Simcoe 5 min
.5oz Citra 5 min
.5oz Amarillo 5 min
1oz Simcoe 30 min hopstand
1oz Citra 30 min hopstand
1oz Amarillo 30 min hopstand
.5 Simcoe dry hop
.5 Citra dry hop
.5 Amarillo dry hop
My water profile was typical of my pale ales, heavier on the chloride with a smaller gypsum addition.
After the boil and hopstand were complete, I split the batch between two carboys. I pitched London Ale III in one, Conan in the other. Both batches of beer are fermenting at around 66 degrees. I’ll bottle the two batches at about the two week mark, give it a week to carb, and then toss some in the fridge to test.
I’ll post back here with an update as soon as this experiment is over!
Update 08/08/15: I bottled both batches yesterday. I was surprised that both batches finished at 1.006, I had expected the Conan batch to finish just a bit dryer. Both samples already smelled and tasted great, It’s going to be hard to decide which I like better. I plan on waiting a week to carb and then putting the bottles in the fridge for a day. I’ll then do the side by side!
Update 08/13/15 Tasting: Here’s the moment I’ve been waiting for! Let me start by saying that I really like both of these yeasts. They each have strengths and you truly can not go wrong using either. That being said, I have to say that London Ale III is my preferred yeast between the two.
The appearance of both beers was pretty close as you can see in the picture above. The London Ale was just a hint more hazy and bright, the Conan just slightly darker and clearer. Both were pretty looking beers and anyone who reads this blog knows I enjoy hazy hop forward beers.
Both beers smelled really nice. The London Ale had an intense citrus aroma, more orange than grapefruit, with maybe a bit of pineapple. There was also a bit of pine as well as some English ester aroma. A really good smelling beer for sure. The Conan had a more peachy and apricot aroma that blended with some citrus and pine. This isn’t surprising as Conan is famous for that apricot/peach profile. The aroma of both beers were fairly intense, and its hard to say which was more appealing.
The taste of these beers weren’t too far apart, but I slightly preferred the London Ale III. I feel that both yeasts accentuated the hops and malts well, but I like that London Ale III was just a bit more neutral. Don’t get me wrong, the London Ale had some nice subtle ester character to it, but I feel it was the more neutral of the two yeasts. This will let the individual ingredients of the beer shine though in my opinion. Conan was slightly bolder in flavor. The hop profile of the beer was the same obviously, but Conan added that peach/apricot note, while the London Ale was more citrusy. The flavor of the London Ale beer seemed rounder to me if that makes any sense. The bitterness faded quickly, the citrus from the hops was there, and then it had a slightly sweet, juicy finish. The Conan’s bitterness seemed to linger just a bit longer and its flavors seemed sharper. Conan also left some nice sweetness in the finish as well.
The mouthfeel of these beers where both really nice, but I have to give the edge to the London Ale III. This beer just seem so soft. There’s a creamy feel that London Ale gives the beer that Conan, while close, just falls slightly behind. Conan was a bit crisper, while the London Ale III had that roundness I mentioned previously.
Like I said earlier, you really can’t go wrong with either of these yeasts. For my tastes, London Ale III just barely wins over Conan. Conan will likely make for a sharper, bolder beer, while London Ale makes a super balanced, round, and juicy pale ale. I also feel like the London Ale would work better in a wider variety of beers, so if reusing yeast is a concern then that may also impact the decision.
All in all this was a really fun experiment to try. I really like both of these yeasts, and a direct comparison was the only way I was going to be able to choose between them. I encourage anyone who is considering these to try this experiment as well. Taste is subjective, so your opinion may vary from what I found here. I hope this post helps any fellow brewers who are looking to dial in their recipes!