The Best Yeast for Stouts (Oatmeal, Irish, Milk, Imperial, & More!)

Stouts are great for that silky, creamy mouthfeel and dark chocolate or roasted coffee taste. Since quality ingredients make quality beer, what yeast styles are best to make a great stout?

Stouts are improved by yeast strains that match their style. Stout styles that rely on delicately balanced flavor profiles will benefit from yeast strains that don’t contribute much flavor while bolder flavored stouts will do well with many strains. The US-05 strain works well in many styles.

Keep reading to find out which yeast varieties are best to use in your favorite stouts!

What kind of yeast should you use for stouts?

Stouts will vary from type to type, but they’re all united by their strong flavors. Because of this, there are general yeast characteristics that work well for all of them.

For a general stout, you should use an ale yeast with high attenuation, medium flocculation, and a clean flavor profile that lets malt flavors shine. It should be fermented in the 60-70°F range.

This generic stout would probably agree with many stout lovers, but it’s the various styles that call us to this brew. Each stout style will have its preferences when it comes to yeasts, particularly regarding the flavor profile.

Matching the perfect yeast to a stout style is often a matter of personal taste. However, here are some recommendations to make a great stout if not the perfect one.

The best yeast to use with Dry Irish Stouts

Dry Irish stouts are represented by the iconic Guinness.

Yeast for this style will need to have a high attenuation rate to consume the majority of the available sugars. 

The final brew won’t be especially sweet, but will often have subtle chocolate or coffee notes. 

Lallemand Nottingham

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: High
  • Temperature: 50-72°F, 10-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Dry Irish Stouts: This yeast strain has a very neutral flavor profile giving other flavors the spotlight. This allows the dark malts to really shine. Its high attenuation will serve you well as will its high flocculation. 

WYEAST Irish Ale 1084

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 71-75%
  • Temperature: 62-72°F, 16-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Dry Irish Stouts: WYEAST 1084 is another great attenuating strain. It is also good at highlighting malt flavors. It can develop some subtle fruity flavors, but for the most part, these will be overshadowed by the malt.

The best yeast to use with Milk Stouts

Milk stouts are also known as sweet stouts and are a great dessert beer. They are of course sweet with chocolate flavors.

Good yeasts for this style have lower attenuation rates. This is necessary if you aren’t adding lactose or some other unfermentable sugar. If you do use lactose, the attenuation rate can be higher and still result in sweet flavors.

Some varieties will have caramel over the classic coffee flavors. The sweetness is often offset with a hint of hop bitterness.

Fermentis SafAle S-04

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: 74-82%
  • Temperature: 59-68°F, 15-20°C
  • Why it’s good for Milk Stouts: With its high attenuation rate, this strain is best when using lactose to add sweetness. It can add fruity and floral notes to the beer which can compliment the main flavors nicely.

WYEAST Whitbread Ale 1099

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Medium-High
  • Attenuation: 68-72%
  • Temperature: 64-75°F, 18-24°C
  • Why it’s good for Milk Stouts: When not using lactose, this strain is your best choice. The lower attenuation will leave some sweetness while still achieving a decent ABV. This strain will have a malty flavor with a slight fruitiness.

The best yeast to use with Oatmeal Stouts

A good oatmeal stout is almost (but not quite) like a good breakfast.

This style is mostly characterized by oats and malt so the yeast isn’t as important as the grain bill and mash temperatures. That said, a good yeast will let those main characteristics take center stage.

These stouts will be rich in body and have an exceptionally silky mouthfeel.

White Labs English Ale WLP002

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Very High
  • Attenuation: 63-70%
  • Temperature: 65-68°F, 18-20°C
  • Why it’s good for Oatmeal Stouts: This white labs yeast strain will leave a sweetness that can be desirable in an oatmeal stout. It will highlight malt flavors and add some fruity notes. The high flocculation will clear the beer of any yeast flavors. 

Fermentis SafAle S-04

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: 74-82%
  • Temperature: 59-68°F, 15-20°C
  • Why it’s good for Oatmeal Stouts: If you’re looking for a dryer flavor profile, this is the strain for you. This strain will add some fruity notes to offset the malts, but will primarily stay in the background.

The best yeast to use with Oyster Stouts

The oyster stout has a delicate flavor profile that can be ruined by especially flavorful yeasts.

It is best to go with a clean yeast strain. Attenuation and flocculation are up to personal preference.

Lallemand Nottingham

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: High
  • Temperature: 50-72°F, 10-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Oyster Stouts: This yeast strain is very neutral in flavor. It can produce some minimal fruity esters at the higher end of its temp range. Brew on the lower end to avoid any chance of this.

Fermentis SafAle US-05

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 78-82%
  • Temperature: 64-82°F, 18-28°C
  • Why it’s good for Oyster Stouts: Another great neutral yeast. This one creates a firm foam head and results in crisp beer.

The best yeast to use with Pastry Stouts

The pastry stout is a somewhat divisive beer. It is most certainly for those with a sweet tooth. As a dessert beer, it aims to recreate your favorite desserts in beer form. 

You will want yeast strains that can complement the sweetness without clashing or becoming overpowering.

White Labs San Diego Super Yeast WLP090

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Medium-High
  • Attenuation: 76-83%
  • Temperature: 65-68°F, 18-20°C
  • Why it’s good for Pastry Stouts: This strain will ferment quickly and efficiently. Use this strain if you’re getting a lot of sweetness from adjuncts as the residual sugar won’t contribute a lot. 

Lallemand Nottingham

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: High
  • Temperature: 50-72°F, 10-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Pastry Stouts: Depending on what dessert you are going for, the fruity notes this strain can produce will either benefit or distract the main flavors. Whatever the case it has great potential for a null effect on flavor.

The best yeast to use with Coffee Stouts

For those who prefer bitterness over sweetness, there is the coffee stout.

This style is benefitted by malt-centric yeast strains.

WYEAST Irish Ale 1084

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 71-75%
  • Temperature: 62-72°F, 16-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Coffee Stouts: This strain lets the coffee and the malt flavors interact without too many competing flavors. It will consume most of the sugars present so that the sweetness doesn’t overpower the other flavors.

Fermentis SafAle US-05

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 78-82%
  • Temperature: 64-82°F, 18-28°C
  • Why it’s good for Coffee Stouts: As mentioned previously, this strain does well at remaining neutral. It provides a crisp, clean base for the coffee stout.

The best yeast to use with Imperial Stouts (Russian Imperials)

A well-storied brew with a bold flavor profile.

Stouts in this style will require yeast strains that can handle high alcohol levels, have high attenuation rates, and contribute to the flavor profile.

While there is an American version of the Russian Imperial Stout that is less fruity in flavor, I will be recommending strains for the classic English style. 

Additionally, if you’re brewing a high ABV imperial stout (above 10-11%), you will likely need to pitch a champagne yeast to finish the brew off.

White Labs Dry English Ale WLP007

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: 70-80%
  • Temperature: 65-70°F, 18-21°C
  • Why it’s good for Imperial Stouts: This yeast strain, which reminds me of James Bond for some reason, is great for high gravity beers. It doesn’t mess with the flavor profile too much, just lets the malts do their work. 

Fermentis SafAle US-05

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 78-82%
  • Temperature: 64-82°F, 18-28°C
  • Why it’s good for Imperial Stouts: US-05 is a great multi-purpose yeast strain that will attenuate well without changing the flavor profile overmuch. 

The best yeast to use with Barrel-Aged Stouts

Any of the above stouts can be barrel-aged, the question is what sort of yeast should you use to get the most out of barrel-aging?

A good yeast for barrel-aged stouts will introduce flavors that compliment the flavors gained from the barrel.

While there are a variety of barrel flavors, the most common in the brewing world is bourbon. These barrels add vanilla notes.

White Labs London Ale WLP013

  • Type: Liquid
  • Flocculation: Medium
  • Attenuation: 67-75%
  • Temperature: 66-71°F, 19-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Barrel-Aged Stouts: This yeast strain will add a nice oak-like complexity to your beer that should mix well with a bourbon barrel flavor. It has a decent attenuation rate that will result in a nice sweetness.

Lallemand Nottingham

  • Type: Dry
  • Flocculation: High
  • Attenuation: High
  • Temperature: 50-72°F, 10-22°C
  • Why it’s good for Barrel-Aged Stouts: The fruity notes this strain brings will go well with the vanilla in this brew. Its high attenuation will leave it a little dryer than the WLP013.