The nature of the yeast

White Labs’ new saison strain brings old Aztec Brewery duo back together

The first saison produced with WLP590 French Saison Yeast at the White Labs tasting room
  • The first saison produced with WLP590 French Saison Yeast at the White Labs tasting room
  • Image by @sdbeernews

Beer brings people together. Apparently, so do the ingredients used to make it. Local company White Labs, the country’s premier purveyor of yeast for the beverage industry, recently added a new strain to its product line, WLP590 French Saison. It’s been so well received that the company has had trouble keeping it in stock, but they set some aside to produce a French-style farmhouse ale for their tasting room so beer enthusiasts can taste its merits firsthand. That beer will tap today in not one, but two locations: White Labs (9495 Canada Street, Miramar) and Aztec Brewery (2330 La Mirada Drive, Suite 300, Vista).

The brewing quartet behind White Labs and Aztec Brewery's collaborative farmhouse ale

The brewing quartet behind White Labs and Aztec Brewery's collaborative farmhouse ale

When building an exemplar for this yeast, the company’s fifth saison strain, White Labs assistant brewer Jason Wyatt enlisted the assistance of Aztec head brewer Paul Naylor. The two worked together for roughly three years and did a nice job of upgrading Aztec’s beer program before Wyatt moved on to his current gig. As the duo puts it, Naylor has the artistic and production aspects of brewing down and Wyatt cements in the big gap separating those bookends. Whereas during previous beers, Naylor took the lead, Wyatt provided the primary conceptual muscle for this brew. So, it’s fitting that the Aztec iteration fermented in a tank labeled Saison de Wyatt.

As is the case with all of the beers at White Labs’ tasting room, it will be served alongside three other versions of the beer fermented with various other yeast strains. But listening to the attributes of the yeast that led Wyatt to showcase it would lead one to believe the WLP590 version is the clear choice. The yeast is “super phenolic” and imparts crisp champagne-like dryness and a peppery bite. Wyatt developed a mostly Pilsner malt bill that’s one-fifth rye to complement that spiciness, while Naylor brought in a stash of whole-leaf noble hops (Hallertau and Spalt) for the same reason. The result is a beer that showcases a new and exciting product and the product of a veteran brewing twosome.

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