S-04

Yeast #002 - Fermentis S-04

Recipe

Malt

100% Briess Brewer’s

Hop Schedule

30.7 IBU Magnum @ 60min

Yeast

Fermentis S-04

Process

Mash In @ 50C, 0min

Beta Rest @ 60C, 30min

Alpha Rest @ 70C, 30min

Mash Out @ 78C, 15min

Boil 75min

Chill

Ferment @ 20C, 7 Days

OG: 12.9P — IBU: 30.7 — ABV: 5.0%

Aroma

Specific aromas

Ripe Blueberry, Ripe Strawberry, Plum, Vanilla

Flavor

Specific flavors

Ripe Blueberry, Ripe Strawberry, Plum

Impression

Initially Sweet, Thin, Bitter & Dry Finish

The Ale

Fermentis S-04. The manufacturer advertises this yeast as the cask-conditioner, best suited for ales requiring clarity through yeast flocculation. Recipes calling for the use of S-04 are English in nature, ranging from English bitters, summer milds, & malty brown ales. It has a medium attenuation, high flocculation, & per Fermentis, a surprisingly high alcohol tolerance. Aside from the flocculation, it seems the desired trait from this yeast are its esters, reported to provide a smattering of fruity esters to compliment whatever ale it is used in.

I pitched on a simple wort to allow the yeast’s properties to take center stage. It fermented the ale quickly & flocculated hard, allowing a refreshingly clean bottle transfer directly from the fermenter. No bottle chunks. The ale conditioned @ room temperature for 4 weeks before the 1st tasting. When poured, almost no bottle rub made it into the glass. When Fermentis advertises that this yeast flocculates, they aren’t exaggerating. The resulting ale-in-glass is crystal clear. I’d say 90% as clear as a lager, which is great for an ale conditioned @ room temperature. There is a nice, pillowy white head.

Positives

The flocculation, obviously. For anyone that bottles, they should give this yeast a try. The fruity esters are expressive, resulting in some interesting flavor & aromas that would be hard to duplicate with any other method. I can see why English styles request this yeast, as I’m sure it pairs beautifully with the floral characteristics of most English hops. I’d use it to ferment anything that would benefit from additional flavor, especially because the medium attenuation would provide a luscious mouthful. If only I had a beer engine… wonder how it would do in an NE IPA?

Next Time

I don’t recommend brewing this exact beer unless you are determined to experience the specifics of this yeast. Though S-04 has much to offer, without the supporting cast of flavorful malt or colorful hops, the beer is a bit too simple. I’d like to try a similar recipe, but with an English hop like East King Goldings & a more substantially kilned base malt. Also, I recommend watching that fermentation temperature. I fermented @ the high end of the range & I am right on the cusp of “esters gone wrong”.

Recipe #002 - English Bitter

Recipe

Malt

90% Briess Brewer’s

10% Briess Extra Special

Hop Schedule

27.4 IBU East Kent Golding @ 60min

5.5 IBU East Kent Golding @ 20min

Yeast

Fermentis S-04

Process

Mash In @ 50C, 0min

Beta Rest @ 60C, 30min

Alpha Rest @ 70C, 30min

Mash Out @ 78C, 15min

Boil, 75min

Chill

Ferment @ 20C, 7 Days

OG: 11.5P — IBU: 32.9 — ABV: 4.8%

Aroma

Specific Aromas

Dark Toffee, Apricot, Dried Fig, Vanilla

Flavor

Specific Flavors

Dark Raisins, Apricot, Toffee, Wood

Impression

Light, Dry, Bitter

The Ale

I’m fascinated with English-Style Ales, particularly the bitters. I read & then dream on how their biscuity malt blend harmoniously with their English hops, their pull from a beer engine fill each pint with a dense, creamy head, & the cellar temperature opens the door for the aromatics & flavors to entertain the senses. Of course, I don’t have an English pub nearby, nor a brewery or bar that serves on a beer engine, so the best I can do is brew one at home & bottle condition for the most authentic ‘real ale’ experience.

With this particular ale, I dabbled with Briess’s Extra Special malt. Briess’ analysis states it creates aromas & flavors like prunes, wood, coffee, toast, & toasted marshmallow. After smelling & tasting the grain, I thought it would pair well with English hops & yeast. When I brewed, I implemented a step mash to dry the ale out, & bottle conditioned for 4-weeks before tasting.

The ale pours crystal clear thanks to S-04, with a medium off-white head & a beautiful amber copper color with cherry red hues when held to a light. It is one of the most striking beers I’ve ever home-brewed.

Positives

It. Is. Pretty. I’d rather look at it than drink it. Appearances aside, the specialty malt from Briess really stands out. Though I don’t get marshmallow, the English hops bring out the wood, prunes, & dark caramel flavors, creating a very ‘Earthy’ experience on the tongue. The ale is very drinkable, finishes dry, & (I think) compliments what English ales bring to brewing.

Next Time

It finishes bitter. Too bitter, so I would reduce the IBUs. It also finishes dry (in a good way), but could use more malt backbone, so I would try a darker-kilned base malt. I’d like to try brewing the same recipe with Briess’s Ashburne Mild as the sole base grain. I’d also like to add a toasted specialty malt to accentuate the toasty bready-ness I always read about in English Ales.

Overall Preference

A poll on people's preference for the ale, updated regularly, based on a scale of 1-5 & organized by # of people for each rating.
It tastes very caramel-y & malty. Like a caramel malt. Thats what it is, isn’t it...?
— My Wife