Fermentis SafBrew Abbaye Yeast Review
I had a rare moment in the supermarket where I bought a bottle of every single French and Belgian beer available. Okay, it was only around 20 bottles, but out of it came a taste for Westmalle Dubbel. What does a brewer do when he tastes something he likes? He decides to make his own version, that’s what! It also gave me a chance to try out SafBrew Abbaye yeast, a dried product from Fermentis that claims to deliver that Trappist taste.
I found a recipe which claimed to get close to the original, and I made a few litres of my own Candi Syrup, because it’s fucking stupidly expensive for a waste product! All I needed was a yeast. Everything I read warned me that without a specific liquid yeast, a stir plate, a lab, two blonde science assistants and a PhD in yeastification, I would not get that raisin-thing that makes a Dubbel so raisiny.
Now, I like to do things the long way, but I tend to drift towards dried yeast because I know liquid yeast is one more thing to delay me. As it goes I typically forget to take the dried yeast out of the freezer until I need to rehydrate it, so making a starter would see my brew days constantly falling apart. It seemed that with dried yeast, I was going to miss that raisiny Dubbel loveliness. A Dubbel without raisininess is like Lorraine Kelly with a bag on her head. What could I do?
Fermentis has added a dried Abbaye (see, it’s spelled wrong so it must be authentic) yeast to its line-up, so I figured I’d give it a go. At the end of the brew day I had a wort measuring 1.070, and in went a single rehydrated sachet of Abbaye.
The next morning Mrs IG gave me a funny look as I passed her on the landing. I turned to ask what was wrong when the smell hit me. I figured she was going to shit herself! It wasn’t a farty smell she was emitting, but a fetid and vicious sulphurous reek. It made me gag and my eyes burned. I gestured her towards the bathroom, but she looked at me in disgust. We stood, face to face, unspeaking. Then I spoke.
‘Have you shit yourself?’
‘No! It’s you, you pig!’
‘Fuck off, it’s not me.’
‘Well, it’s not me.’
As I turned away, appalled by her denial, I was hit with a wave of it, wafting from the back bedroom, where the beer gets brewed. It was a strong, nasty, offensive kind of sulphurous stench, and it was coming from the Dubbel. The yeast had shit themselves, in that decaying dog kind of way.
Several days passed, and the stench remained. Then, one morning, like the snow on Christmas Eve, it was gone. No more stench, no more eye-burning fetid air. I left the fermenter alone. I didn’t even look at it. Three weeks passed. Then four weeks. Then five weeks. Then I cracked.
The beer is down to 1.002, which in my mind makes it a 8.9% brew, about where I wanted it. It looks like a Dubbel, maybe a tad lighter than I had hoped. The Candi Syrup needed more darkening if the truth be told, but I got bored doing it! So, how does it taste
No off flavours, no backround nastiness, no hint of chemical or suphur. It’s smooth, malty, extremely drinkable, and yes. It’s raisiny.
You can’t have raisininess without liquid yeast? Is that so? Well, you can.
It just makes your house smell like you’ve shit yourself for a few days.
For some of you, that will be typical.
Safbrew Abbaye yeast gets a well deserved 9 out of 10.