London Ale III | RVA 132 Manchester

It’s no secret that London Ale III (Wyeast 1318) has been a favorite among homebrewers for super juicy New England style IPAs. I can think of three possible reasons why the strain appears to work so well in these beers:

  • Seemingly natural ability to leave a soft and smooth mouthfeel (possibly higher glycerol production)
  • Both strains are advertised as high flocculating yeasts, which generally means the beer clears up as the yeast cells adhere to form flocs and either rise to the surface or drop to the bottom of the fermenter. However, strangely in the case of dry hopped NE style IPAs with these strains, they do not clear up at all.  Some have reported these strains clear up just fine without dry hops. It’s possible this may have the added benefit of leaving more hop oils in suspension along with the yeast as less of the yeast cells are striping the oils. It’s unclear to me so far as to why exactly these beers are so hazy after dry hopping. Flocculation is complicated processes affected by numerous parameters such as nutrient conditions, dissolved oxygen, pH, fermentation temperature, and yeast handling and storage conditions.1Part of the haze may be coming from the higher level of chloride I’m incorporating to enhance the mouthfeel’s softeness, as higher chloride levels has been found to hinder yeast flocculation.2 In addition, the increased chloride levels is in part because high sulfate levels has been found to have a “clear negative correlation” to perceived hop flavors.3
  • The lower attenuation you get with the strain seems to combine to do a few things like boost the perceived sweetness, increase the mouthfeel, and keep the beer from getting to dry, which in my opinion can increase the bitterness perception. Although I’ve had many beers finish rather high, but still come across dry on the palate.

London Ale III has always been rumored to stem from Boddington Brewery originally located in Manchester. Nicknamed (given by the brewery itself) in the 1990’s, “The Cream of Manchester,” there is a big clue that the brewery itself considered their beers to have an incredibly soft palate, thanks in large part to their yeast strain.4 But does London Ale III really stem from the Boddington strain? After all, why would it be called London Ale III if it’s from Manchester? I’m not good with geography, but I have Google Maps, and London and Manchester are about 200 miles away from each other!

RVA is a relatively new yeast lab located in Richmond, Virginia and one of their many strains happens to be (and this is exactly how they list it on their website) RVA 132 Manchester Ale (Boddington). Now that leaves no guessing, this strain is in fact a Boddington strain from Manchester!

The two strains sure seen to be pretty similar in terms of the commercial descriptions:

Wyeast 1318 | RVA 132

Flocculation: High | High
Attenuation: 71-75% | 70-75%
Suggested Fermentation Temperature: 64-74F | 65-72F
Alcohol Tolerance: 10% ABV | 10% ABV

I decided to do a side-by-side of the two strains and see for myself how they compare in a New England Style IPA. Keep in mind this isn’t a proper side-by-side, although the two beers shared the same mash, grist, and fermentation temperatures, I chose slightly different hops for the dry hops as well as allowed one of the beers to have a higher original gravity (I needed to brew two different beers for the National Homebrew Competition and I didn’t want 10 gallons of the same beer on tap). To do this, both beers were mashed together and ran off into two separate boil pots. One of the boil pots (the one I needed to be in IPA territory for purposes of the competition) I allowed more of the first runnings in, which of course raised the original gravity. I then allowed more of the sparge runnings into the second beer, which lowered its original gravity top pale ale territory.

The RVA Manchester Ale yeast went into the slightly lower gravity beer and was dry hopped with Amarillo and Citra and the London Ale III beer went into the slightly higher gravity beer and was dry hopped with Galaxy and Citra. Both beer’s turned out great (more specifics below), but the RVA yeast produced an incredibly flavorful beer that had a touch of vanilla that I’m quite certain is a yeast derived flavor/aroma. The London Ale III beer was great too, but there was a clear difference in the two strains which was easy to pickup on despite having different dry hops. I personally liked the RVA beer better, but the London Ale III beer placed 1st in the American IPA category advancing to the finals in this years American Homebrewers Association Competition in the Philadelphia judging center. Despite comments from the judges like “soupy clarity – excessive for hop haze” and “hazy” the beer won out in the mini-Best of Show round against likely clearer beers, which in part shows that this cloudier beer style does come with increased hop flavor. As this haze is truly a product of the NEIPA brewing process and yeast selection and not an intended end goal.

RVA Manchester Amarillo/Citra | London Ale III Galaxy/Citra

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 45 min 69.8 IBUs 5.2 SRM 1.058 1.017 5.4 %
Actuals 1.053 1.014 5.1 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Organic 2-Row 9.849 lbs 67.24
Malted Spelt 3.444 lbs 23.51
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L 12.54 oz 5.35
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 7.87 oz 3.36
Acid Malt 1.25 oz 0.53

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Dr. Rudi 40 g 45 min Boil Pellet 11
Citra 35 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 12
El Dorado 35 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 15.7
Citra 110 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 12
Amarillo 56 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 9.2

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 5.65 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 4.25 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 3.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 155°F 60 min

Notes

Water: .75 g/gallon gypsum & 1.0 g/gallon calcium chloride
Mash pH: 5.41

Whirlpool Additions:
Additions Marked Aroma were added at flameout for 15 minutes

Dry Hopping Schedule:
10 grams Citra in fermenter as a pre-hop addition
3 days into fermentation dry hopped loose w/ 28g Amarillo and 50g Citra
Loose in keg (w/ stainless filter over the diptube) 28g Amarillo and 50g Citra (hops remained in the keg until it kicked)

Final Beer pH: 4.51

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 45 min 73.1 IBUs 5.2 SRM 1.058 1.017 5.4 %
Actuals 1.06 1.014 6.1 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Organic 2-Row 9.849 lbs 67.24
Malted Spelt 3.444 lbs 23.51
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L 12.54 oz 5.35
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 7.87 oz 3.36
Acid Malt 1.25 oz 0.53

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Dr. Rudi 35 g 45 min Boil Pellet 11
Citra 35 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 12
El Dorado 35 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 15.7
Galaxy 28 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 14
Galaxy 110 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 14
Citra 56 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 12

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 5.65 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 4.25 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 3.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 155°F 60 min

Notes

Water: .75 g/gallon gypsum & 1.0 g/gallon calcium chloride
Mash pH: 5.41

Whirlpool Additions:
Additions Marked Aroma were added at flameout for 15 minutes

Dry Hopping Schedule:
10 grams Galaxy in fermenter as a pre-hop addition
3 days into fermentation dry hopped loose w/ 28g Citra and 50g Galaxy
Loose in keg (w/ stainless filter over the diptube) 28g Citra and 50g Galaxy (hops remained in the keg until it kicked)

Final Beer pH: 4.52

RVA Manchester Amarillo/Citra Results

Wow! Not only one of my favorite hoppy beer’s I’ve brewed in awhile, but one of the better hoppy beer’s I’ve had commercially in a while! Absolutely everything I look for in a NEIPA style, incredibly soft, loads of flavor, plenty of body, and a overall smoothness that sophisticates the beer.

Despite having no Amarillo hops in the boil pot at all (boil and whirlpool) this is the predominate hop in the nose and flavor. Combining Citra with Amarillo really seems to cut down on this aggressive herbal tea and floral quality I sometimes get from Amarillo on it’s own, which helps bring it more into a fruit territory. Right away the beer reminded me of peeling back the wrapper of a fruit roll-up, I can just smell the sweetness and stickiness of those white wrappers in the hops. I’m also reminded of the aroma of the milk leftover after eating a bowl of Trix!

The longer I kept this on tap, the more I started to pickup on a vanilla richness to the in the aroma and flavor, which after using this yeast on a few more beers i’m confident this is coming from the Manchester yeast. It’s really a light vanilla wafer cookie quality. This may sound strange and out of place for a hoppy beer, but man it’s working! When I top crop this strain I get a big rich vanilla shake aroma with a touch of banana from the yeast slurry.

Great tightly packed head that sticks around nicely. I really enjoy spelt malt in these styles of beers, really seems to be beefing up the body and the higher protein should be helping with the head retention. Really enjoy pretty much everything about this beer!

London Ale III Galaxy/Citra Results

The hops are big and juicy at first pour then as the glass sits I get more of that yeast derived (I think) cracker/pepper malt character. I’m being really critical here, it’s not a huge cracker grainy character, but trying next to the RVA Manchester yeast, it’s apparent. I’ve noted this same quality int the past few hop forward beers I’ve brewed with London Ale III. It’s not a bad quality, it’s just seems to show a touch more of the grains.

The mouthfeel is great, rich and soft. I think London Ale III might have a very small edge in mouthfeel, but this was also a slightly bigger beer so I wouldn’t pay too much attention to that. In the aroma I get pink taffy, tropical notes, and sherbert. The armoa fades a bit in the glass and moves towards more of a subdued pineapple but with an earthiness quality I wouldn’t expect with these hops. Love the look of it, nice tightly packed head that sticks around, very much the same as the RVA strain. There is a slight alcohol warmth. Again, I get this yeast/crackery thing in the aftertaste that I’m fairly sure is the yeast now after using it a few times.

Overall

  • Both strains have huge krausen (RVA maybe slightly bigger) that stick around forever. When it’s about time to switch to a blow off (about day 2-3 with these strains) I just open up the fermenter and scoop out about 3-5 scoops of fresh yeast sitting on top and put in a mason jar and fill with some cooled R/O water). This is a great time to add a dry hop addition as well, I have to basically dig a hole in the yeast to get the hops in contact with the beer!
  • Both strains finished out about the same in terms of final gravity and final pH.
  • Both strains are incredibly active, both were ready to keg after about a week. London Ale III might be tad more aggressive and quicker.
  • Both strains leave a natural soft/smooth mouthfeel.
  • At first I thought the RVA strain allowed the hops to shine a little more than London Ale III (London Ale III little bit of a grainy malt character vs. the light blanket of vanilla in the RVA) however after using RVA in a few more beers, I could make a case this light vanilla quality keeps the hop aroma in check a little bit. But I’m being pretty critical, they both allow for plenty of hop aroma!
  • Both of these strains may well be Boddington strains, maybe harvested at different times, but to my palate (even with different dry hops) it seems obvious they are not exactly the same.

Footnotes

  1. H. (2010). Maximizing Hop Aroma and Flavor Through Process Variables. Technical Quarterly TQ.
  2. Bruce, J. (2002). Analysis of anions in beer using ion chromatography. Journal of Automated Methods & Management in Chemistry, 24(4), 127-130.
  3.  
    Verstrepen, K. J., Derdelinckx, G., Verachtert, H., & Delvaux, F. R. (2003). Yeast flocculation: What brewers should know. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 61(3), 197-205. doi:10.1007/s00253-002-1200-8
  4. Boddingtons Brewery. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boddingtons_Brewery
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