Best Yeast for Brewing American Pale Ales (Ideal Flavor for the Style)

With so many yeast strains in both liquid and dry form to decide between, it can be daunting to choose one for a particular style. How do homebrewers decide between these yeast strains to brew and American Pale Ale? 

The best yeast strains for brewing an American Pale Ale are clean and neutral with medium to high attenuation; fruity esters can be low to moderate, but diacetyl should not be present. There are plenty of options among both liquid and dry yeasts available, but the most popular choices are Wyeast American Ale 1056 and SafAle US-05, respectively.

Continue reading for tips on how to choose an appropriate yeast strain as well as the best liquid and dry yeasts for your next American Pale Ale. 

How to choose the right yeast for American Pale Ales

American Pale Ales are best characterized by the pale golden to amber coloration, moderate-to-high hop quality, and clean maltiness. They are usually smooth with a light-to-medium body and may be hazy and/or citrusy. 

So what exactly makes a yeast the right one for an American Pale Ale? There are a handful of factors to take into consideration, including the ester profile, fermentation time, and more. Choosing the right yeast strain to complement a style of beer can make or break that batch. 

The preferred yeast strains for American Pale Ales produce moderately fruity esters with medium to high attenuation and low to medium flocculation. Many ferment within 4-5 days and have a thick, creamy krausen.

Keep reading for more details on how to pick the right yeast strain for your American Pale Ale. 

Ester profile

Esters are fruity flavor compounds in beer.

For an American Pale Ale, fruity esters can be low to moderate in presentation.

Diacetyl, a compound that produces a butter or butterscotch flavor, should not be present. 

Krausen

Krausen is the foamy white head of yeast that forms on the surface of fermenting beer. Healthy, robust krausen is a great indicator of happy fermentation.

An ideal yeast strain for an American Pale Ale will produce thick, foamy krausen. 

Fermentation time

Since yeast is a living organism, many environmental factors play into how long it will take for the yeast to completely do its job and finish fermenting.

While many yeasts that work well for an American Pale Ale will ferment within 4-5 days, many homebrewers prefer to keep their batch in the fermenter for at least a week before moving to secondary.

This ensures the beer has finished fermenting and hasn’t just stalled, and also helps clear up the appearance of the beer. 

Attenuation

Attenuation is the measurement of how much sugar in the wort yeast converts into alcohol.

For best results in brewing an American Pale Ale, choose a yeast strain with moderate to high attenuation and a clean, neutral profile.

Flocculation

Flocculation is the ability of the yeast to clump together and fall out of suspension once fermentation has happened.

Ideally, the best yeast strains for an American Pale Ale will only floc together once final gravity is reached. 

By the way, this article is part of a series all about American Pale Ales. To learn more, check out our articles on the best water profile for American Pale Ales, how to brew an American Pale Ale, and the best American Pale Ales to try in 2022!

Harvesting commercial yeast from craft American Pale Ales

It is possible to harvest yeast from commercially available beer to use in making your own homebrewed American Pale Ale. You will have to choose a beer that has been bottle conditioned, and you should be able to see a layer of yeasty sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Follow these easy steps to harvest commercial yeast:

  1. Make a yeast starter in order to give this commercial yeast some sugars to consume. Check out this tutorial for an easy way to make a yeast starter. 
  2. Wipe down the lip of the bottle with your sanitizer before pouring the beer carefully into a separate glass. Ensuring as much yeast stays in the bottle as possible.
  3. Sanitize the lip again before pouring the yeast layer directly into the starter.
  4. Repeat the process 2-3 times for a healthy amount of yeast in the starter. 
  5. Treat this starter as you would any other yeast starter. 

Bell’s provides a guide on how to harvest yeast from their own beer right on their website. To brew an American Pale Ale using harvested Bell’s yeast, use their Oatsmobile Pale Ale

Homebrewers have also reported success harvesting yeast from Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale.

The best liquid yeast strains for brewing an American Pale Ale

Liquid yeast is a slurry of yeast cells sold in vials or pouches. Some homebrewers prefer using liquid yeast for the sheer variety of strains available, including seasonal strains that are available year-round in liquid form. 

Liquid yeast is oftentimes more expensive than dry yeast, however, and has a shorter shelf-life than dry yeast. It’s also more temperamental than dry yeast, so improper handling can negatively affect fermentation.

Many brands offer liquid yeast strains appropriate for brewing an American Pale Ale, including Wyeast, White Labs, Imperial Organic, and Omega.

YeastFermentation temperatureAttenuationFlocculation
IDEAL65-70℉Medium to highLow to medium
Imperial Organic Chico60-72℉Medium-highMedium-low
Omega British Ale I64-72℉Medium-highMedium-high
Omega West Coast Ale I60-73℉HighMedium-low
White Labs American Ale Yeast68-73℉Medium-highMedium
White Labs California Ale Yeast68-72℉Medium-highMedium
White Labs East Coast Ale Yeast68-73℉Medium-highMedium to low
Wyeast American Ale60-72℉Medium-highLow-medium
Wyeast American Ale II60-72℉Medium-highMedium-high
Wyeast Denny's Favorite 5060-70℉Medium-highLow
Wyeast Northwest Ale65-75℉Medium-highHigh
 

Wyeast

Wyeast has a number of options in the liquid yeast category, including: 

WY1056 American Ale

A clean and crisp option with low to medium flocculation, mild ester production, and medium-high attenuation. Ideal fermentation is between 60-72°F.

WY1272 American Ale II

A consistent and versatile strain with medium-high flocculation, medium-high attenuation, and a soft, clean profile. Ferments best from 60-72°F.

WY1332 Northwest Ale

For a maltier finished product, this yeast has high flocculation, medium-high attenuation, and highlights fruity notes in the beer. Ferment between 65-75°F.

WY1450 Denny’s Favorite 50

Another yeast that accentuates malt characteristics, this one is great to have on hand for a number of styles. It has low flocculation and medium-high attenuation. The ideal temperature range for fermentation is between 60-70°F.

White Labs

Consider the following liquid yeasts from White Labs: 

WLP001 California Ale Yeast

White Labs’ best-selling strain, this yeast is known for its clean flavors, consistent fermentation, and versatility. It has medium flocculation and medium-high attenuation. For best results, ferment between 68-72°F.

WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast

Known as their ‘Brewer Patriot’ strain, this liquid yeast from White Labs is similar to the California Ale Yeast but with more pronounced fruity esters. It also has medium-to-low flocculation and medium-high attenuation. Ferments between 68-73°F.

WLP060 American Ale Yeast

Medium flocculation and medium-high attenuation this yeast encourages clean, neutral fermentation. The ideal fermentation temperature is between 68-73°F.

Imperial Organic

The most popular option for brewing an Amerian Pale Ale using liquid yeast is Imperial Organic’s Flagship, commonly referred to as ‘chico.’

This is a versatile strain with clean character, medium-low flocculation, and medium-high attenuation. It ferments at 60-72°F.

Omega

Omega Yeast Labs has a couple of options for best brewing an American Pale Ale: 

OYL-004 West Coast Ale I

Another ‘chico’ with high attenuation and medium-low flocculation. It’s reliable with a neutral foundation. Ferments at 60-73°F.

OYL-006 British Ale I

This is a clean and crisp strain with accentuated fruity esters. Medium-high flocculation and medium-high attenuation. Ferments at 64-72°F.

The best dry yeast strains for brewing an American Pale Ale

Some homebrewers prefer to brew with dry yeast strains over liquid ones. Dry yeast is frequently a more affordable option than liquid yeast and can also be frozen successfully to extend an already longer shelf-life. 

Liquid yeast does have far more yeast strains available, but there are a number of dry yeast strains available to brew an American Pale Ale from the following manufacturers: 

  • SafAle
  • CellarScience
  • Lallemand
  • Omega
YeastFermentation temperatureAttenuationFlocculation
IDEAL65-70℉Medium to highLow to medium
CellarScience CALI Dry Yeast59-72℉(unlisted)Medium
Lallemand LalBrew Nottingham50-72℉HighHigh
Lallemand LalBrew West Coast Ale50-72℉Medium to highHigh
Omega Dried Lutra Kveik68-95℉HighMedium-high
SafAle US-0567-84℉HighMedium

Continue reading for specifics on which dry yeast strains to choose from among the above brands when brewing an American Pale Ale. 

SafAle

Also referred to as Fermentis, Safale prides itself in its E2U (easy to use) yeasts. The best dry yeast to use is SafAle US-05

Neutral, clean, and crisp with high attenuation, medium flocculation, and an ideal fermentation temperature range of 77°F to 84°F, SafAle US-05 is a great choice for an American Pale Ale as well as a variety of other styles. 

CellarScience

CellarScience offers both beer and wine yeast strains. When brewing an American Pale Ale, use their CALI Dry Yeast. It has a clean, neutral flavor, making it a popular choice to keep on hand for brewing different kinds of beer. It has medium flocculation and ferments best between 59-72°F.

Lallemand

Lallemand has a couple of options for brewing an American Pale Ale with their yeast, including: 

LalBrew BRY-97 West Coast Ale

Medium to high attenuation with a clean, neutral flavor and low esters. High flocculation, ferments best between 59-72°F.

LalBrew Nottingham High Performance Yeast

While this strain is best suited to English ales, its fruity esters, neutrality, and versatility make it a good option for American styles as well, including pale ales. It ferments between 50-72°F with high flocculation and high attenuation.

Omega

While Omega mostly carries liquid yeasts, they also currently have one strain of dry yeast called Dried Lutra Kveik. It is a clean, gluten-free strain with an enormous range, including high attenuation, medium-high flocculation, and an ideal temperature range of 68-95°F.

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