A Ph.D. in Beer – A Study of Beer and Fermentation Science

Recipe #42: Wakatu Saison with WLP644 “Trois” (Batch #2015.03)


So the infamous WLP644, the “brett” / “sacch” strain that had everyone confused for a while. Fortunately, as with most things, some thoughtful science cleared it up. Thanks to Omega Yeast for doing some much needed sequencing on this strain to disabuse everyone of the notion that this was a Brettanomyces species, it is in fact a Saccharomyces species.  Personally, I love this strain. I think it works well with saisons and IPAs, so many breweries were using it as a “100% Brett IPA” fermentation catalyst because of the surprisingly high attenuation and the nice flavors that paired well with hops. Lately I’ve been talking to a subculture of people that hate this strain. I do not know why…maybe it’s like the Dupont yeast strain. A lot of people hate it while it remains my steadfast go-to yeast for general purpose fermentations for my own consumption. Who know….

So I’m clearing out the backlog obviously. Things have been busy and I know I’m not suppose to apologize for not posting in a while so instead I’ll just thank everyone that has stayed with me. I’ve been doing a lot of brewing lately and I’m happy to report that there are a lot more post coming in the following weeks. I have a dozen written now and they will be posted weekly for the foreseeable future.

This is the “first” post is a long series of posts where I push my own boundaries into new grain and yeast bills. I’m going to attempt to be systematic about it and push myself into a variety of grain bills and yeasts while still focusing on as many hop varieties I can get my hands on. A simple elaboration on this could be to use a more yeasts, such as Bretts or even sour some with a little Lactobacillus.

Batch # 2015.03

5 Gallon Batch
Brew date: January 18, 2015 
Bottling date: March 8th, 2015
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.005
ABV:  6%(estimated)
SRM:  4 (estimated)
IBU:  30 (estimated)


80% 2-row (brewer’s malt)
10% White wheat malt
10% Flaked barley

Mash Conditions:

Grist was mashed at 150 F for 60 minutes with a grain to water ratio of 1.25 quart per pound. Sparge was done with approximately 5 gallons of water at 165 F. Both the wort and the sparge were vorlaufed for about 0.5 to 1 gallon.

Brewing Procedure:

Wort was brought to a boil quickly and allowed to boil for 70 minutes. The volume loss was about 3.5 gallons (out of almost 9) and a little more than 5.5 gallons was collected from the pot. Wort was chilled with an immersion chiller in about 30 minutes. All the brewing occurred outside.

Hop Schedule:

2 ounce of Wakatu pellets at flame out, hop stand for 30 minutes (wort was not allowed to cool before hand)
Dry hopped 2 ounce of Wakatu pellet hops on February 7th, 2015

Fermentation Conditions:

Made a two liter starter of WLP644 in YEPD media. The yeast was crashed out of solution at 4 C and the supernatant was discarded. The resulting yeast cake was added to the finished wort. Fermentation took place at “room temperature”, approximately 75 F. Fermentation proceeding normally, high krausen in a few days, fell after about a week. Fermentation was completed in 3 weeks. Beer was transferred to a keg for bottling.


Beer was left in the keg after transferring for a couple of weeks prior to bottling, this was for no good reason. I had to take a short trip and didn’t bottle in time and when I got back it was a low priority. The beer in the keg was slighly carbonated when I opened the keg a few weeks later before adding the priming sugar. I did not take an additional reading at this point.

While it was reported by several people that this strain can for a pellicle in beer (see my post on pellicles in beer), this wort and pitch did not form a pellicle. It is possible I didn’t let it sit long enough or there was some other limiting factor. There is nothing to note in this fermentation, it was plain.

Tasting Notes:

WLP644 Saison with Waktu Hops

So I tasted this beer several times over the past year and cracked one open for the purposes of this blog and it has changed drastically. The earlier version of this beer were all honeydew melon, bright and sweet, smooth to drink. The older versions were the wet basement style of funk, welcoming but surprising. This yeast definitely gets funkier with age….in a really positive way.

Beer is yellow and clear, with moderate to strong carbonation and a soft white head with small and medium bubbles with decent retention. The older version smelled a lot of melon and light fruits, the older version smells a little of melon but a lot of musk and mushrooms.

The beer is light and wet on the finish, decent carbonation and nice connectivity to the whole beer. It is mildly sweet, nice esters throughout, the older version has that muskiness to it that shows up mostly at the end. There is basically no perceived bitterness to this beer at all. Overall a light, easy drinking beer. I’d make it again as either an old beer or a new beer.

Possible improvements (for future batches):

So these are some cool hops. They aren’t as aggressive as some hops but overall they are pretty nice for a light fruity hop. I would definitely use them again in an upcoming beer (I already have). They are pretty delicate and probably should be out in front, anything too aggressive would easily overpower them. I think a basic saison would be a good pairing for these hops, or maybe a little sorachi ace. I’ve done a Dupont saison with these hops that turned out nicely. Write up on that coming soon.

Upcoming brews and posts:

So I’m working through a little bit of a backlog but I have some fun posts coming up. I’ve been working a lot with my organisms over the past year and am ready to publish more off-beat yeasts and bacteria in the coming months. Zymomonas mobilis is the next one on the docket and I’m pretty thrilled to get that up. I also am getting another souring yeast to follow up on my Kluyveromyces lactis experiment. The new yeast is Lachancea fermentati, so watch for that as well. I’ve also made some wine and started making cheese, all of that will be in this blog eventually under the “food fermentation” section. I have some experimental / new hop saisons coming and some general thoughts about how my beer life has changed since becoming a professional brewer. A lot of things coming, thanks for sticking with me and thanks for reading.



“I want a beer. I want a giant, ice-cold bottle of beer and shower sex.” ― Nora Roberts


Author’s quick note:
I’ve decided to include some affiliate links sprinkled throughout the blog. I hope they are not distracting. I’ll write a post later about why I decided to do this. There will be one add for something beer / fermentation related at the end of every post from now on. If you click on the link, it helps support the blog even if you don’t buy the item. If people complain I’ll consider taking them down, but for now I’m going to try this out. Let me know if you don’t like this or if you have any other ideas on how to make this blog self-sustaining.


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