Wyeast 1056, aka Chico Ale Yeast, is a well know American Ale yeast.  Plenty of Pale Ales, IPAs, and even hefes in the market use this particular strain. In fact, I’ve often seen is suggested that this strain be used for a lambic as well.  The reason that this strain has such a wide application is due to the fact that it’s more “flavor neutral” than other strains (i.e. the strain does not itself produce huge esters that might be desirable depending on style).  If you are looking for a malt and hop emphatic strain, this is your guy.  At cooler temps (low to mid 60s) expect some citrus tones.

No way I would use it in a hefe but I think it’s application for Pales and IPAs is great.  It was in that context that I used this strain.

Yeast Uses: Wyeast lists a ton of uses for this strain.  In fact, and because of it’s neutrality, they assume this is a great yeast for the creation of a house strain.  Perhaps that it worth some exploration, if you are up to the challenge.  Various applications are entirely possible because of its neutrality and alcohol tolerance, which is 11%.  In my opinion, the good applications they list (and depending on what you are going for), are as follows: American Barleywine, American Amber, American Brown, American IPA, American Pale, American Stout, Spiced beer, Cream Ale, Imperial IPA.  I know that seems like a lot but look at the word preceding most of the styles.  They are almost all American interpretations of classic styles.

If you are knowingly going for the American renditions, then this is a great yeast.  The Spiced beer, Cream ale, and fruit beer are good for the same reason that I mentioned above…neutrality.  The neutrality allows good spices on a spiced beer to pop.  Cream Ales are generally smooth and have additional lagering to make sure of it, so I think the strain would work well.  In addition, fruit beer (not lambic by any stretch) because it would allow to fruit to be emphatic without ester competition.  But there are, I think, some bad suggestions they make as well.

I personally don’t think this is a good strain for the following: Braggot, Brown Porter, Dry Stout, Irish Red, other smoke beer (whatever that general statement means), Russian Imperial, Strong Scotch Ale or Wood Aged beer.  There are basically two reason I have chosen to say these are not good applications.  Either bready ester warmth or mineral tones.  I think it’s a fairly neat division but most these strains of one of those two needs.  There are yeast strains far better  and more specific than 1056 for these above qualities.  Sorry to go on like this.

Yeast Attenuation: Once again, attenuation means thinning down.  This strain has some very decent attenuation, which is why it can be so malt and hop emphatic.  It truly allows the hops to shine.  However be careful how Imperial IPA is because once you pass your 73-77% attenuation your going to have a ton of sugar left from your malt.  That could keep those lovely hops at bay. For my Pale Ale, I had 76.27% Attenuation.  I started at 1.066 and ended at 1.015, which is right toward the upper end.  My ABV was 6.7%.  Right in the range of a bigger American Pale.  My attenuation results were similar for my IPA.  Obviously, I didn’t push the ABV threshold on this one, so I can’t speak to that.

Yeast Lag: Like most Wyeast packets, there was little lag time on this beer.  I started seeing signs of activity within 6 hours and was rolling nicely shortly after.

Yeast Flocculation: The yeast flocculation given for this strain is medium to low.  This can be a problem if you want a bright beer.  Most of us can’t filter with something like DME, so we are relegated to simply being stuck with it.  However, the more from primary to a secondary can work wonders, even if you dry hop.  Also, crash cooling is a way to deal with this.  However, secondary conditioning was more than enough to give me a very clean looking beer.

Overall Performance: Use this strain for you Pale and IPA.  Also, note the other applications above.  If you want nice citrus to compliment hops, then ferment it at a nice cool temp.  This a very clean strain that takes the back seat to your hops and malts.