Brewing with Imperial Organic Yeast

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Last month my wife and I, along with a group of friends threw our 3rd annual Halloween party. Each member of the group is in charge of a different area of the party which makes for an interesting event. For all 3 parties, in addition to decorating the beer garden, I provided the beer. This year I made 3 beers; a pale ale, a red ale and a double IPA. One of the fun parts about brewing this year was utilizing a new yeast on the market: Imperial Organic Yeast. I had never heard of them and opted to give it a shot after being introduced to them by the folks at F.H. Steinbart.

For the pale ale, my original plan was to brew a small beer like an English bitter to grow up a pitch for a pale ale, then subsequently an IPA. Then I learned that Imperial yeast has a cell count of 200 billion cells per little black can of yeast. That’s about 2 times the cell count of White Labs and Wyeast, alleviating the need for a starter in an average gravity beer. My laziness took over and I decided to give it a try.

For the pale ale I made a very simple beer comprised of 100% Marris Otter malt and Falconer’s Flight for hops. I used A09 Pub strain for the yeast. It is said to be similar to Wyeast’s ESB strain. The beer turned out well. The yeast tore through the beer quickly; about 4 days to terminal gravity. The resulting beer had a nice bread and biscuit-like flavor with tree fruit esters (apricot and peach) that worked nicely together. The hops were present but not over bearing leaving a nice, drinkable beer. It also flocculated well so it left a really clear beer in very little time.

red1The red ale I made was Jamil Zanachef’s Evil Twin recipe found on his site, MrMalty.com. I like the grain bill in that recipe and have brewed it a number of times. In addition to using Imperial Organic Yeast’s A15 Independent strain, I deviated from the recipe by substituting Centennial and Amarillo hops for Columbus and Citra. Imperial claims this yeast works well in hop forward beers and gives slightly more fruity esters than their A07 Flagship strain (which is akin to Wyeast 1056). I agree with their assessment. The yeast seemed to play up that tropical fruity touch that Citra hops have. The fruity esters are apparent but it still maintains enough cleanliness to be American. I really liked the beer and will probably make it again. I’d like to try A15 in an American pale ale or IPA. I washed and saved it so I’ll need to get brewing soon.

As the name implies, Imperial Organic Yeast differentiates themselves by being the first and only liquid yeast company to offer certified organic yeast. To be honest, the concept was initially lost on me. I mean its yeast so isn’t already organic?  The answer to that is yes, however, in order to maintain a legal status of organic, Imperial must use all organic products to grow their yeast. Makes sense. Sort of like the difference between a cow raised ranging free and eating organic grass vs. a GMO corn fed cow. So if you’ve been making organic beer, you were technically unable to do so until these guys opened up.

Imperial offers a wide variety of ale and lager yeast for brewing (27 according to their website). The best feature for home brewers of course is the cell count per can. Many home brewers (myself included) don’t always want to or have time to make a starter for every beer. As long as you aren’t making beers above 1.060 gravity or 5 gallons, you are fine to pitch 1 can, without a starter. This is absolutely fantastic for an impromptu brew day.

Imperial Organic Yeast is a little more expensive than some of the other liquid yeasts on the market, but you don’t have to buy malt extract for your yeast starter so it works out. Additionally without a yeast starter you save quite a bit of time.

Overall, I feel that Imperial Organic Yeast is a great product. Make sure to look for them at your local home brew shop and give them a try.