Adventures in Boozing: White Labs Tasting Room

White Labs Tasting Room
9495 Candida Street
San Diego, CA 92126

We finally got together for another Adventure in Boozing. Instead of your typical brewery, we decided we wanted to officially check out White Labs. They are a major supplier of yeast to many breweries, both locally and nationwide. They also brew their own beer but they focus primarily on the yeast production.

I don’t brew my own beer so I wouldn’t call myself a beer geek, but when it comes to drinking it… you can count on me to appreciate the craft and all its nuances. I even have the beer-belly to prove it. We didn’t get to tour the place because it was late and mainly because I didn’t call ahead of time. We sure did get more than enough information from the tasting room supervisor, Justin Hatfield. As soon as we sat down he came over to explain to us exactly what White Labs was all about. He knew his stuff and represented the company proudly. It’s nice to meet people who actually love and care about their work and what they do. He totally did.

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Justin explained how it works. The yeast is the star of the show. Not wanting anything to overpower the flavors the yeast produces there are no “extra” additives. All the beers are described as being light and mild, allowing the yeast to determine the taste of the beer. “Light” doesn’t apply to the alcohol content because some of the beers get up to 8% ABV (alcohol by volume). “Light” describes the pallet. The 5 beer recipes on the menu were, Leeuwenoek Saison, Hansen Hefeweizen, Belgian Style Tripel, Pasteur Porter, and Milk Stout. Each brew starts out as a single batch of wort, then the single batch is divided into 4 different brewing tanks and a single strain of yeast is added to each one. The difference in taste and notes are all produced from the yeast. Who would have thought? Well, maybe a true beer geek would have, just not me. It makes perfect sense that different types of yeast with different types of characteristics will make different tasting beer. Duh!

I had a flight of the Belgian Style TripelA light and simple grain bill and subtle hop character belie the strength of this beer. The yeast in the fermentation of this strong Belgian style Ale craft a complex aromas, spicy phenolics and flowery esters. The beer finishes with a subtle sweetness. 8.8% ABV/28-34 IBU’s

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ABV indicates the % of alcohol by volume. IBU is the measurement of bitterness. Just remember, the bigger the number, the more bitter the beer.

Yeast Strain ABV Calories IBU White Labs Yeast Guide Description What I Tasted
WLP530 – Abbey Ale Yeast 8.32 219.91 36.5 Used to produce Trappist style beers. Similar to WLP500, but is less fruity and more alcohol tolerant (up to 15% ABV). Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and trippels. Wheaty, stronger hoppy flavor and smokey
WLP545 – Belgian Strong Ale Yeast 8.43 219.04 38.5 From the Ardennes region of Belgium, this classic yeast strain produces moderate levels of ester and spicy phenolic characters. Typically results in a dry, but balanced finish. This yeast is well suited for Belgian dark strongs, Abbey Ales, and Christmas Beers I really like this one. Mildly fruity, tastes similar to Blue Moon Belgian White but milder. Tastes very carbonated.
WLP550 – Belgian Ale Yeast 8.55 220.37 37.5 Saison, Belgian Ales, Belgian Red, Belgian Browns, and White beers are just a few of the classic Belgian beer styles that can be created with this yeast strain. Phenolic and spicy flavors dominate the profile with less fruitiness than WLP500 Very mild. Taste good to me. I can see it can be used as a good starting point for adding other flavors.
WLP570 – Belgian Golden Ale Yeast 8.25 220.18 30.0 From East Flanders, versatile yeast that can produce light Belgian ales to high gravity Belgian beers (12% ABV). A Combination of fruitiness and phenolic characteristics dominate the flavor profile. Some sulfur is produced during fermentation, which will dissipate following the end of the fermentation. It has a very zesty flavor, almost floral. Reminds me of Shock Top Belgian White.

I first two tasted very similar but I noticed the difference. My favorite beer (yeast) was the second one, WLP545, so I got a pint. Check out the AVB. At higher than 8%, no wonder I got a little tipsy! And the calories! Drinking beer is very heavy on the calories. At over 220 calories I might as well have been eating a sandwich. Make that a few sandwiches.

Here are pictures from our evening at White Labs Tasting Room.

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If you’re in San Diego and can appreciate the science behind beer, I would highly recommend you visit the White Labs Tasting Room. They have Trivia Night once a month so you can try out your trivia knowledge. They also have Board Game Night. We played ourselves some Battleship before we left. I don’t remember who won but as you can see in the expression on my face (pictured below) he sunk my battleship!

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…And they love The Walking Dead. Need I say more? This place is incredible.

Take a virtual tour of the San Diego Tasting Room, here

Be sure to interact with White Labs on social media.

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