From what I understand, White Labs uses quite a bit of Dupont yeast in their Saison strains. Of course, Dupont is the most widely popular and famous Saison that comes to mind when I hear the style mentioned, so that’s not a bad situation at all. For my part, I was brewing a Saison that was above the normal threshold for the style, and I incorporated a bit of lactic acid producing bacteria as well. But I needed a pretty tolerant strain. In addition, I wanted a strain that had a mix between peppery, clove-like, and bubble gum qualities. This blend seemed to encapsulate all of those needs. Here goes…
Yeast Type: WLP 568 Saison Blend.
Yeast Uses: This one should be obvious, but Saison is the most common style of beer that is appropriate for the strain. However, I think this is a great alternative for sour beers. I’ve often seen very nuetral strains recommended, but I think this gives good character and a nice start to a lambic or other sour.
Yeast Attenuation: The attenuation level given for this strain is wide: 70-80%. I found that both of my beers have been closer to the 80% side of the attenuation. Here’s one point that I wish to stress about this strain: attenuation takes quite a while. The strain is apparently notorious for slower performance and apparent death after about a week of fermentation. It’s also known for revitalizing and fermenting slowly. I started my beer at 1.094/5 and, after a week, it was down to 1.029 with further attenuation gradually occurring. So, don’t be discouraged if this one is slow. In fact, expect about 2-3 weeks. Keeping the temps of the beer up and giving it an occasional shake will both be helpful in encouraging continuing growth. A Saison should ferment at 80-85º anyway.
Alcohol Tolerance: This is a medium tolerance strain. For White Labs purposes, that means 5-10% ABV. After a week, my brew was at 8.5% and went all the way up to the 10% I expected of it. If you are looking for an even bigger beer, White Labs does have a strain that’s medium-high on tolerance. However, I found that this one gave the right amount of balance and strength for my big version of Saison.
Yeast Lag: I found this yeast to be a very quick starter. I saw active fermentation within the 6-8 hour range, so I think you should expect the same. As I always mention, don’t flip out before 18-24 hours. Some vials just behave differently. But a quick start isn’t an issue; a slow finish is.
Overall Performance: I really had some nice clove, bubble gum, and spice produced by the strain. I would recommend using it, but you have to be patient when you do. Also, the flocculation level on this strain is medium, so a nice crash will help to clean it up a bit. A couple weeks of lagering will clean up the yeast and smooth out the beer. If you want that Saison haze, perhaps a new vial at bottling will help.
I hope this was helpful.