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March 14, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Beer Will Be Beer: A Bit Yeastie

That’s a bit Wheaty”

Oddly, more often than not, the beer that the punter is tasting contains no wheat at all. Usually the flavour they’re trying to identify is something other than a grain—it is a yeast flavour. Beers like Three Boys Wheat, Tuatara Hefe and Hoegaarden Witbier have popularised the yeast-focused flavour of Witbiers and Weissbiers—styles of wheat beer.

The majority of a wheat beer’s flavour comes from the compounds created by the yeast during fermentation. These can taste like anything from bananas to clove, and have crazy names like Isoamyl Acetate. Remove the yeast flavour from a wheat beer and the flavour can be as clean as a pilsner, even though it may feature 50% or more wheat malt.
To showcase just what yeast contributes to a beer, the local brewing badasses Yeastie Boys decided to do a little experiment, dubbed ‘Yeastherder’. They released two beers—‘Europa’ and ‘Rapture’—named after Blondie songs in true Yeastie style.

Europa and Rapture are exactly the same beer, except for one aspect: the yeast. Europa features a German Helles yeast which ferments cleanly—meaning it creates very little flavours. Rapture features the same Belgian yeast strain used in the famous Chimay beers, and as such, adds a huge yeast character to the beer.
Europa (4.2%) might best be described as a summer golden ale due to its crisp dry body and zesty hop flavour. Europa is a simple beer, but not detrimentally so. Its crisp flavour and simplicity make it a rewarding beer to sip on those rare, sunny Wellington days.

Rapture (4.5%), on the other hand, is something a bit different. Yeast is the main show here, with a big aroma of cloves that are followed up with even more in the flavour. Rapture brings the big character of the Chimay yeast, but in a much smaller package than usual.

The yeastherders have already been gracing taps and handpumps at beer bars throughout Wellington, but there’s still some left so keep an eye out and get amongst this brilliant piece of beer geekery.

The Yeastie Boys donated the proceeds from online sales of Rapture and Europa to the Christchurch relief fund, one of many gestures of kindness from the beer industry. Mad props to them all.

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please contact me at or tweet at me @davethebeerguy

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Comments (4)

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  1. Dave says:

    Typo alert! Europa was made with a Kolsch yeast, not a Helles yeast. My bad.

  2. Stu as "Stu" says:

    I was just about to alert you to your mistake Dave but, well done, you got in first. Just as well you did… I’ll not have to slap you with a cold smack pack the next time I see you (I can’t say the same for “Simon”, who may well be aiming to perform a bit of thackeray on your person).

    Not only does it highlight the difference in flavour but, also, in the amount of malt that the yeast nom’d (as you can see by the fact that the beers used the same recipe but ended up with different alcohol). Despite ethnic sterotypes, the Belgian yeast worked harder than the German one.

    And, funnily enough, going back to your opening line… there was 10% wheat in the grain bill.

  3. Dylan says:

    The wheat line is at least in partial rference to an incident I had where a customer described a Croucher Pils as “too wheaty”.

    Points awarded for using the term “nom’d” in a serious discussion.

  4. Stu as "Stu" says:

    Thanks Dylan.

    James Kemp once told me he was enjoying a lunchtime Yeastie Boys’ “Golden Boy” at Liquidate on The Terrace. A customer walked in and asked what was on tap. The barman gave him a taste of (filtered) “Golden Boy” and the customer said “Nah, mate, it’s nice but it’s a bit too yeastie for me”. James reckons he almost fell of his seat, and definitely snorted a little Golden Boy.

    Please don’t take that last sentence out of context.

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