We here at Guys Drinking Beer love to trumpet our local breweries; particularly those operating on small scales. But what about the people behind the beer? Or perhaps, more accurately, the people behind the ingredients in the beer?
Lance Shaner is one of those people. He runs Omega Yeast Labs, where we imagine he runs around in a long, white lab coat with a beaker in one hand and a craft beer in the other. We talked with Lance about how he got his start, why fresh yeast matters and Omega Yeast’s big breakthrough creating hybrid yeast strains.
Where to find Omega Yeast in Canada?
Look no further than Short Finger Brewing Co. which carries Omega’s full line-up of yeast varieties. Omega specializes in standard ale strains (American, Belgian, British, etc) as well as Brettanomyces and Bacterial Cultures (Lactobacillus).
Omega Yeast Lab Strains:
Clean, crisp flavor characteristics with low fruitiness and mild ester production. A very versatile yeast for styles that desire dominant malt and hop character. A very popular “house” strain. May yield citrus notes with cooler 60-66°F fermentations.
A popular choice for dark beers and high gravity beers. Beers fermented in the lower temperature range produce a dry, crisp profile with subtle fruitiness. Fruit and complex esters will increase when fermentation temperatures are above 64°F
Allows malt and hop character to dominate the profile. Highly flocculant and highly attenuative. Ferments well down to 64°F.
The most popular German wheat beer strain used worldwide. Produces a balance of banana esters and clove phenolics that can be skewed depending on various conditions – e.g., increased ester production through increasing the fermentation temperature, increasing the wort density, and decreasing the pitch rate or over pitching to reduce or nearly eliminate banana character. Decreasing the ester level will allows higher clove character to be perceived. Sulfur is commonly produced, but will dissipate with conditioning. This strain is very powdery and will remain in suspension for an extended amount of time following attenuation. This is true top cropping yeast and requires fermenter headspace of 33%.
Versatile strain for the production of classic Belgian style ales. This strain produces a beautiful balance of delicate fruit esters and subtle spicy notes, with neither one dominating. Unlike many other Belgian style strains, this strain is highly flocculent and results in bright beers.
Classic strain for brewing Belgian dubbel or Belgian tripel. This strain produces a nice balance of complex fruity esters and phenolics, making it desirable for use in other Belgian style ales as well. A flocculent, true top cropping yeast (additional headspace is recommended), that will work over a broad temperature range. Makes a great Belgian style “house” strain.
Ale strain isolated from a famous double IPA brewed in Vermont. Produces a unique ester profile reminiscent of peaches. This strain complements an aggressive use of hops.
An ale strain of Norwegian origin that has an astoundingly wide temperature range (62F-98F) with little difference in flavor profile across the whole range. Temperature control is unnecessary with this strain. It has a unique fruitiness that makes it complementary to modern hop varieties.
The most widely used lager strain in the world. This strain produces a distinct malty profile with some ester character and a crisp finish. A versatile strain, that is great to use with lagers or Pilsners for fermentations in the 45-55°F range. It may also be used for Common beer production with fermentations at 65-68°F. A thorough diacetyl rest is recommended after fermentation is complete.
A blend of a mild Brettanomyces isolate from a Colorado brewery known for its Brett beers and two strains formerly classified as Brettanomyces but since found to be Saccharomyces. This blend produces huge tropical fruit aromas during fermentation that fade somewhat during conditioning. Has a wide temperature range and ferments very dry, leaving little body. Consider adding flaked oats if additional body is desired. This blend will not produce significant “funk” or acid, even with extended aging. The blend pairs well with fruity aroma hops to make a unique pale ale.
This blend contains the two Saccharomyces strains from blend #1 for primary fermentation and is spiked with Brettanomyces bruxellensis for development of moderate “funk” during a secondary fermentation. The “bit ‘o funkiness” will take extended time (3+ months) to develop.
This blend contains the two Saccharomyces strains from blend #1 for primary fermentation and is spiked with Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus, two Brettanomyces isolates from a Colorado brewery known for its Brett beers, and two Brettanomyces isolates from an “Intense” Belgian source for a funky, fruity and complex brew. Brett character will develop over time. Acid production will increase over time given exposure to oxygen.
A “coast to coast” blend of a saison strain from a famous Northeast U.S. brewery and a Brettanomyces strain from a Northwest U.S. brewery. The blend results in a fast developing fruity and funky farmhouse ale.
This will be an evolving blend comprised of nearly every Brettanomyces strain in our collection (inaugural release will contain 12 strains). When used in secondary, expect high attenuation and a fruity and funky complexity developing over time.
The first in our line of hybrid strains. This strain is a genetic hybrid resulting from the mating of strains OYL-026 and OYL-027, created by and available exclusively from Omega Yeast. Less phenolic and more fruit character than 026. Exhibits some of the bubble gum character of 027.
This blend contains two Lactobacillus species — brevis and plantarum — giving the blend a wide active temperature range. The Lactobacillus plantarum strain was isolated in collaboration with Marz Community Brewing from a starter inoculated with whole malt grains. It sours efficiently at lower temperatures (65F-100F) compared to other Lactobacillus species. To use the blend for kettle souring a 5 gallon batch, prepare a 1 liter starter of approximately 1.040 specific gravity and pour contents of pouch into unhopped starter. Incubate 24-48 hours at room temperature to increase cell count. Prepare wort as normal and cool to 75-95F. Pitch Lactobacillus starter into unhopped wort and allow to sour to desired level. Maximum levels of sourness should develop within 48 hours. There is no need to hold the temperatures at the high end of the range for effective souring due to the efficient action of plantarum at lower temperatures. When desired sourness is achieved, re-boil wort to kill Lactobacillus. Add hops at this time if desired. This blend is extremely hop sensitive. Souring may not occur in worts with 2 or more IBUs. Cool wort and pitch yeast to complete fermentation.