Wild Fruit Yeast — Experimental Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Beer

While not working on the buildout for Best of Hands Barrelhouse, or beertending at The Beer Junction, I cultivate my brewing chops by developing test batches of definitive recipes Gregory and I have written, as well as continuing to experiment with more esoteric fermentations.  The beer documented here, is a prime example of my desire to push beyond the norm, and explore other methods of producing unique and uncommon flavor profiles in beer.

To keep our personal kegerators stocked, and when we don’t feel like making the same thing, Gregory and I will often prepare 20+ gallons of a particular wort and then split it, each undertaking different fermentations to create the beers we wish to imbibe at home.  This particular beer’s wort began as the basis for a Bohemian style pilsner lager (Gregory’s version), that I then took out there quite far to create an exceptional experimental Brettanomyces Bruxellensis beer.

I made a large two-step Brett. Brux. starter for about a week and a half before the brewday.  Before we chilled the wort to lagering temperature for Gregory’s version, I brought the post-boil wort down to about 70F and added roughly a gallon of it to 6oz of store bought organic raspberries (mashed) and 16oz of organic kumquats (cut in half).  I let this concoction cool for a few hours in our brewery’s storage space, and then brought it to my basement to sit overnight.  Meanwhile, I transferred my portion of the pilsner wort to a sanitized corny keg.

The following day, I transferred both the pilsner wort and the gallon of fruited, open fermented wort to a sanitized carboy (including some of the mashed raspberries and 3-4oz of the kumquats).  After five days of letting any bacteria/yeast I caught propagate in the wort, I pitched a 1400ml Brett. Brux. starter into the beer.  After five weeks and four days, I added my first dry hop addition; five days after that I added the rest of my dry hops, and kegged the beer four days later.

Read on for the recipe and tasting notes!

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.80
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 2.0
Anticipated IBU: 28
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

100% — 8.80 Lbs. Pilsner Malt (US)

Hops

0.30 oz. Saaz (Pellet, 3.0% AA) @ 90 min. (First Wort)
0.30 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 14.5% AA) @ 60 min.
1.10 oz. Saaz (Pellet, 3.0% AA) @ 20 min.
1.10 oz. Saaz (Pellet, 3.0% AA) @ 20 min. (whirlpool)
1.05 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 8.2% AA) @ 10 days (dry hop)
0.30 oz. East Kent Golding (Pellet, 5.7% AA) @ 10 days (Dry hop)
1.05 oz. Eureka (Pellet, 18.0% AA) @ 10 days (Dry hop)
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 8.2% AA) @ 5 days (Dry Hop)
1.00 oz. Eureka (Pellet, 18.0% AA) @ 5 days (Dry Hop)

Extras

2.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP650 — Brettanomyces Bruxellesnsis

Water Profile

Seattle
6.00g Calcium Chloride
12.00g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single infusion – 60 min @ 153F
Mash out — 10 min @ 170F

Notes

Brewed on 04.09.18 with Gregory & Jensen

04.09.18 — Mashed up 6oz store bought organic raspberries and cut 16oz store bought kumquats in half. Chilled wort to 70F and covered the fruit mash with a portion of the wort in attempt to provide fruit yeast temp and sugar to propagate. Let sit open in fermentation garage for a few hours and will let sit over night in basement in attempt to catch wild yeast/bacteria.

Kegged the reminder of the wort and will transfer to carboy with the fruited wort and some of the fruit tomorrow.

04.10.18 — Transferred the fruited wort to a carboy with some of the raspberry mash and about 3-4oz of the kumquats, racked the pilsner wort on top and applied airlock. Will pitch a hefty Brett. Brux. starter soon.

04.11.18 — Built up remaining approx. 200ml Brett. Brux. starter with additional 32 oz of starter wort. Definitely caught something as airlock has pressure and wort seems to have a krausen or pellicle forming.

04.15.18 — Pitched approx. 1400ml Brett. Brux. starter into the beer. Still pressure in airlock and small krausen present.

04.16.18 — Light fermentation activity ~ 10 hrs after pitching the Brett. starter — constant bubbling in airlock.

04.25.18 — Fermentation has ramped up a bit, about a half inch krausen, constant and frequent bubbling in airlock. Put a brewbelt on for 10 hours overnight but no noticeable difference in fermentation this morning. Took off and replaced towel for UV protection.

05.24.18 — Added half + EKG of the dry hops to primary as still slowly fermenting.

05.29.18 — Added final dry hop addition to primary.

06.02.18 — Kegged batch and began force carbonating at 10PSI

Tasting Notes — 06.25.18 (on draft)

Billowy head-stand that dissipates quickly.  Slight chill haze present.  Lemon, grapefruit, and unspecified floral/herbal notes upfront on the nose, with supporting aromas of wildflower honey, overripe pineapple and horse blanket from the brett.  Bright, intense citrus-orange acidity hits the palate first with spicy-earthy undertones quickly following.  Spruce tip and pine-like flavors enter mid-palate and give way to a lemon-menthol sensation akin to a much milder Ricola lozenge.  Off-dry, spicy-herbal notes on the lingering finish.

Calculated OG: 1.054
Calculated FG: 1.004
Approx. ABV: 6.66%

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Turbid Mash Lambic-Style Ale (In The Tradition Of Brasserie Cantillon)

Wild Yeast 03Months after we originally intended to, Gregory and I finally brewed our lambic-style ale on 09 February 2015.  We used Jim Liddil’s tek which is a conversion of Brasserie Cantillon’s turbid mash schedule to the homebrew scale.  Since we don’t currently have a barrel with neutral enough character, we opted to add French oak spirals to primary (we boiled the hell out of them beforehand so they wouldn’t overwhelm the beer).

We don’t have a koelschip and we didn’t let the beer spontaneously ferment per se, rather we chilled with a wort chiller as usual and pitched both of the batches of wild yeast that I harvested from my house (see my previous post).  We also overlooked the fact that our homebrew store wouldn’t have raw wheat and, as we were pressed for time, we just settled on regular wheat malt.  Though theoretically this could actually harm our efficiency because the wheat has already been well modified, the real goal here was to conduct the turbid mash, so we went ahead with it and did hit our intended gravity.

We have not yet decided if, when this beer is ready, we will serve it straight, fruit it, or blend it with a younger lambic-style ale to produce a gueuze-style ale; we’ll keep you posted.

Turbid Mash Lambic-Style Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.0
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated SRM: 3.0-7.0
Anticipated IBU: 0-10
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 240 Minutes

Grain

66% – 5.3 Lbs. Belgian 2-Row Pilsner
33% – 2.7 Lbs. Wheat Malt

Hops

3.50 oz. Yakima Valley Hops Aged Lambic Hops (Leaf, 13.0% AA) @ 240 min.

Extras

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

Wild yeasts harvested and propagated from home
Bottle dregs from Brouwerij Oud Beersel Oude Geuze

Water Profile

Seattle

Mash Schedule

Jim Liddil’s A Liddil Lambic Lesson

Notes

02.09.15 — Cold crashed and decanted the growlers of wild yeast I propagated morning of brew day

Brewed on 02.09.15 with Gregory

02.09.15 — After a nearly eight hour brew day, chilled wort to 70F and pitched the wild yeast into a carboy with the oak spirals and put in on the brewbelt.

02.13.15 — Signs of fermentation activity

03.25.15 — Transferred off of the oak spirals into secondary fermentor and added the bottle dregs from Brouwerij Oud Beersel Oude Geuze

02.11.16 — Pulled a sample from the carboy and tasted it.  Lots of oak character even though we boiled the spirals for quite a while and changed the water numerous times.  Surprisingly not too much acidity/sourness yet, will probably pitch some extra bottle dregs soon.

04.05.18 — Tasted beer, and lots of diacetyl present (wasn’t there previously or when the beer was young).  Guessing it’s due to pediococcus re-fermentation.  Will pitch fresh Brett. Brux. and starter wort to clean it up as I have done in the past with surprise diacetyl in long-aged sours.

04.08.18 — Transferred off it’s long-time yeast/bacteria cake and pitched some Brett. Brux. slurry from the 2nd lambic-style beer Gregory and I brewed.  Made a large, fresh Brett. Brux. starter and will pitch half of this into the beer in a few days.

04.11.18 — Pitched about 800ml of active Brett. Brux. starter into carboy.

Calculated OG: 1.048

Harvesting Wild Yeast

Wild Yeast 01 & 02

About two months ago I began experimenting with harvesting wild yeast from different areas in my house.  Since most of my beers are fermented in the basement where our Westland Distillery whiskey barrel resides (and because we inoculated it with commercial wild yeasts and bottle dregs after our clean stout was finished) I decided to try to catch some yeast from the basement.  The process is rather simple, though unpredictable, and so far I’ve been successful with two separate batches — successful meaning I’ve definitely caught some bugs and there doesn’t appear to be any mold or off flavors present at this point.

Wild Yeast 01After Gregory and I finished sparging for the chanterelle mushroom beer, we had about 64oz of wort left over.  Instead of just dumping the wort, I let it cool to room temperature and put it into a stock pot which I covered with a grain bag and left in my basement over night.  The next morning I funneled the wort into a gallon growler, added an airlock, and waited to see what happened.  In about a week’s time, I noticed that a Brettanomyces pellicle had begun to form.  I waited another week then made up a starter wort and fed the bugs I caught, taking the opportunity to smell the yeast: mango- and pineapple-like tropical fruit notes with some light barnyard funk is what emerged.  I have been monitoring and feeding the batch roughly every two weeks ever since, cold crashing and decanting when necessary, and Gregory and I plan to use it in our turbid mash lambic-style ale which we plan to barrel ferment.  It has been exciting to witness the different phases the yeast has gone through since it’s initial capture: a few weeks after the first feeding, it was offering more standard Belgian yeast notes; now it has become fairly complex with hints of fruit, a more profound funkiness, and light Belgian-like phenolics.

Wild Yeast 02 UpstairsThe second batch is from upstairs in my kitchen.  After we finished sparging for our Baltic porter, we had about 32oz of wort left (prior to the addition of the cold steeped specialty malts which were added at the end of our boil) and I followed the same process as above, keeping it on top of a cabinet for the night.  Once again I definitely caught some bugs, and it is my hope that this batch will be more representative of the wild yeast down here on Alki beach since I do not ferment any beers in my kitchen.  So far this yeast seems milder in intensity with a light fruitiness reminiscent of stone fruit and a very faint funk in the background.  It will be interesting to see how both of these catches mature and change over time.

The Cherry Ghost – Cherry & Kumquat Berliner Weisse

CKB 04“A sour wort Berliner weisse aged 8 weeks on cherries and kumquats with a ghost of an ABV.”

Berliner weisse is a classic tart German wheat ale that is traditionally fermented with a mixed culture of top-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus.  Examples of the style can range from mildly tart to bracingly sour with firm acidity and notes of lemon and other citrus fruits.  In Berlin it is available “straight” but is often served with sweet raspberry or woodruff syrups to blunt the acidity and sourness.  At only about 3-4% alcohol by volume this beverage proves to be an excellent thirst quencher and has become quite popular during the summer months in the U.S.A.

There are different methods of souring a berliner weisse, each with its own involved process and merits.  Briefly, you can pitch pure strain lactobacillus, or lacto with an additional yeast culture; or you can do a sour mash with pitched yeast, or a sour mash with pitched yeast and additional lacto.  If you’d like to read more in depth about these methods, Derek Dellinger has done a great job of explaining them on his Homebrew and Beer Blog, Bear Flavored.  Additionally, you can conduct a normal mash and pull some or all of the wort, pitch your lacto starter at this point and perform a sour wort.

The base for this berliner weisse is extremely minimal.  Gregory and I decided to do a four day sour wort with a lactobacillus starter made from yogurt followed by a 15 minute boil after which we pitched Wyeast 1007 German Ale along with Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

CKB 03

As the tag line that begins this post suggests, not everything went as planned for this brew.  Although some might consider 3-4% a ghost of an ABV already, the base beer only ended up being about 1%!  How did this happen, you ask?  Well I have a few theories though I’d love to hear others if you’ve got them.  First of all, while hot holding the sour wort at around 100F for the four days, it began to ferment creating some alcohol that would later be boiled off (since we only boiled for 15 minutes to kill the lacto/other bacteria I’m unsure if this had much of an affect on the finished product).  Additionally, I forego a starter for the German Ale yeast (this was brewed at a time before I always made a starter) and assume that the PH was too low, disrupting the ale yeast’s fermentation.

Regardless of the reasons for the lower than usual ABV, the beer went through a 16 day primary fermentation followed by a 56 day secondary on cherries and kumquats.  In addition to the final refreshing brew tasting fantastic, the “sessional” aspect of this already session style beer allowed it to be entered into Xbrew — the Mount Si Brewing Society’s annual homebrew competition that accepts session and imperial versions of each traditional BJCP style.  I am honored that this little beer took the silver medal in the fruit beer category.  I plan to brew this recipe again although I haven’t determined which souring method I’ll experiment with.  The recipe is as follows:

Cherry Ghost Berliner Weisse

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.2
Anticipated OG: 1.047
Anticipated SRM: 2.0
Anticipated IBU: 6.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 15 Minutes

Grain

43% – 3.6 Lbs. Belgian 2-Row Pilsner
43% – 3.6 Lbs. White Wheat
12% – 1.0 Lbs. Acidulated Malt

Hops

0.50 oz. US Cascade (Pellet, 7.0% AA) @ 15 min.
1.00 0z. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 3 day dry hop.
0.40 oz. Galaxy (Pellet, 14.2% AA) @ 3 day dry hop.
0.25 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 9.3% AA) @ 3 day dry hop.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
9.00 Lbs. Pie cherries
2.00 Lbs. Kumquats
0.50 Lbs. Rainier Cherries
0.50 Lbs. Red Cherries

Yeast

Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis
Wyeast 1007 German Ale

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 150F

Notes

04.05.14 – Made a lactobacillus starter from yogurt (but didn’t give it enough time to culture up)

Mash & sour wort 04.07.14 with Gregory

04.07.14 – Hot held wort @ 100F for 4 days

04.09.14 – Temp drop to 80F, pulled some wort, brought it to boil and added back into water cooler mash tun to raise wort back to 100F

04.10.14 – Noticed signs of lacto fermentation

04.11.14 –  Brought wort to boil for 15 minutes to kill lacto/other bacteria

04.11.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching German Ale yeast and Brett.

04.27.14 – Pasteurized 9.0 Lbs. frozen pie cherries by adding them to water and raising to 165F, used StarSan on 2.0 Lbs. kumquats

04.27.14 – Transferred beer to secondary and added the fruits

06.09.14 – Added 0.5 Lbs. Rainier cherries & 0.5 Lbs. red cherries

06.20.14 – Transferred beer into bottling bucket and dry hopped for 3 days

06.23.14 – Bottled Berliner weisse with 6.2 oz. corn sugar @ 3.45 volumes of CO2

Tasting Notes

Great summer quencher — light and crisp with a slight mineral note announcing itself after the tart finish.  The fruit is spot on; big sour cherry flavors and some citrus from the kumquats.  It actually seems that the kumquats have become more apparent over time.  I’m excited to make this one again.

Calculated OG: 1.014
Calculated FG: 1.006
Approx. ABV: 1.05%