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2012 is about to get even funkier! White Labs released their revised seasonal strain “Platinum Series” schedule and it includes 2 NEW funky offerings PLUS 2 funky fan favorites (say that 10 times fast) are going year round. (You already know one from this post last month)

I love news like this. Changing their release schedule to add 4 wild/funky offerings is a huge step in getting more people to embrace the funk! I had the chance today to speak with Chris White; president at White Labs to get a little more insight into the strains. That interview is below…. But first up the exciting new offerings:

WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois (MAY-JUNE release)
This Belgian strain, used traditionally for 100% Brettanomyces fermentations, produces a slightly tart beer with delicate characteristics of mango and pineapple. Can also be used to produce effervescence when bottle-conditioning.
Optimal Temp: 70-85F
Flocculation: Low
Attenuation: 85%+
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium-High

WLP665 Flemish Ale Blend (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER release)
Blended culture used to produce the classic beer styles of the West Flanders region of Belgium . A proprietary blend of Saccharomyces yeasts, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, this culture creates a more complex, dark stone fruit characteristic than WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix.
Optimal Temp: 68-80F
Flocculation: Low-Medium
Attenuation: 80-85%+
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium-High

And the fan favorites that are available now as a year round offering.

WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend
Inspired by local American brewers crafting semi-traditional Belgian-style ales. This blend creates a complex flavor profile with a moderate level of sourness. It consists of a traditional farmhouse yeast strain and Brettanomyces. Great yeast for farmhouse ales, Saisons, and other Belgian-inspired beers.
Attenuation: 75-82%
Flocculation: Medium
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-72°F
Alcohol Tolerance: 5-10%

WLP630 Berliner Weisse Blend
A blend of a traditional German Weizen yeast and Lactobacillus to create a subtle, tart, drinkable beer. Can take several months to develop tart character. Perfect for traditional Berliner Weisse.
Attenuation: 73-80%
Flocculation: Medium
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-72°F
Alcohol Tolerance: 5-10%

ETF- How much has the demand for White Labs sour strains and blends increased recently?

Chris- Alot. I would say more than double, probably closer to a threefold increase if not more. It’s not only in the homebrewing side but we are seeing it growing more and more on the commercial side too. We are seeing breweries wanting to use something for their barrel projects and conditioning. We had a brewery contact us that just got 20 wine barrels to put some strains into. But it is up across the board, it’s what people want right now.

ETF- With the WLP670 / WLP630 full time now and the WLP665 / WLP644 coming out, is this the most funk ever in the White Labs lineup?

Chris- Yes for sure. It’s actually the most strains across the board we’ve had available in at least 5 years. Funny thing with the new line up we didn’t realize this until we looked at the sheet that we had so many Belgian type strains this year. (13 of the 23 scheduled)

ETF-In the new WLP644 Brett release does the word “Trois” (3) in the strain name give us some insight on a commercial example with this strain?

Chris- Ha! We usually try to throw something in the name to give a clue…But it’s us having some fun with it.

ETF-In the WLP665, can you give some insight on what might be the strongest microbe or what more forward microbes to expect in about a year?

Chris- That’s a tough one, It has a great mix of the Brettanomyces, Pedio, and Lacto. We wanted to come out with something a little more Rodenbach like that will develop even more after that time.

ETF-Any ideas or plans to have more sour/wild releases in 2013?

Chris- We are going on a bigger acquisition quest this year for more strains. Definitely getting more active in collecting some different strains over the coming year.

We also talked about helping out brewers who are new to sour and funky brewing. I told Chris I heard a lot of new to the funk brewers appreciated the good solid recipe (Tomme Arthur’s Saison Blanc) that was included in the White Labs newsletter when the WLP670 came out. Since getting into sour brewing can be intimidating to say the least, just having that recipe from a reputable source really helped some new brewers tear down that wall of uncertainty and jump right in…those brewers are now hooked. In short Chris said they would discuss it at White Labs tomorrow and look into having a recipe to coincide with the strain releases.  So if you have been thinking about brewing a sour beer, it sounds like White Labs is once again going to give you some great ground level support for your first batch!