Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red With Cherries

cherriesThe wonderful thing about brewing and aging 63 gallons of beer in a whiskey barrel is that you can save a couple of uncarbonated kegs worth of the beer and use these portions as a canvas to create further iterations down the line.  August 2015, a portion of our Westland whiskey barrel aged Flanders style red was added to wild picked blackberries (detailed here).  Additionally, this past July I crafted two more versions of this beer — another wild picked blackberry version (using over two pounds of fruit per gallon), and a cherry version which I’ll detail in this post.

We brewed the base beer on 06.12.14 (detailed here: Barrel Project #02).  On 07.07.16, I took a six gallon portion of that beer and aged it on 6 LBS of Red Cherries (store bought, fresh) for seven weeks and five days.  I kegged the beer on 08.30.16 and have been enjoying it ever since.

cherry-flanders-pelicleAs you can see in the photo on the right, after aging on the cherries was complete, the beer had a lovely pellicle dusting the surface of the beer.  “That looks gross,” you say; however, pellicles are very important in the production of funky and/or sour beers.  “What is a pellicle?” you ask.  Check out this blog post from A Ph.D. in Beer to learn all sorts of great information on the topic: What is a pellicle?

The actual brewing process and recipe can be found in the linked post above.  Below I will only detail the cherry additions, kegging date, and the tasting notes.

Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red With Cherries

Notes

07.07.16 — Red cherries added to Flanders Style Red (6 LBS — one pound per gallon)

08.30.16 — Kegged beer and began force carbonating for approximately 2.5 volumes CO2

cherry-flandersTasting Notes — 11.12.16 (poured off tap)

Gorgeous deep burgundy color with a moderate pink-white head which dissipates quickly and laces thin.  Aromas of cherry preserves, oak and whiskey.  The cherries are certainly present, but they meld fantastically on the palate.  Juicy-ripe stone fruit note in the middle followed by a sharp lactic acidity.  Drying oak tannin with hints of vanilla, earthy fruit pit, and barrel char follow.  Finishes with a clean and strong lactic sourness, no vinegar notes detected.  Woody notes linger.

Calculated OG: 1.076
Calculated FG: 1.000
Approx. ABV: 9.99%

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Wild Blackberry Sour Ale

Blackberry Flanders 01This beer’s story began almost two years ago, brewed on 06.12.14 (detailed here: Barrel Project #02).  I took a five gallon portion of that beer and aged it longer still, on 4 LBS, 12.6 OZ of blackberries (mostly wild berries I foraged) and 12.3 OZ of raspberries (store bought, fresh) for the final two months.  Now after nearly 6 months in the bottle, this beer has just hit its stride; it is my favorite beer that I’ve made.

This beer earned me and Gregory a bronze medal in the Specialty Beer category at a local homebrew competition (the new sour categories had not yet gone into effect), and received a score of 41 (excellent) in the Mixed Fermentation category at this year’s annual AHA (American Homebrewers Association) sponsored National Homebrewer’s Competition.

The actual brewing process and recipe can be found in the linked post above.  Below I will only detail the berry additions and bottling date.  However, as usual, the tasting notes will follow those details.

Foraged BlackberriesWild Blackberry Sour Ale

Notes

08.16.15 — After a couple separate additions, a couple days apart, all fruit added to Flanders Style Red (4 LBS, 12.6 OZ blackberries, 12.3 OZ raspberries)

10.19.15 — Bottled beer with champagne yeast & corn sugar for approximately 2.5 volumes CO2

Blackberry Flanders 02Tasting Notes — 04.14.16 (Bottle Pour)

Gorgeous burgundy color with an off-white head which dissipates quickly and laces thin.  Aromas of jammy blackberry, raspberry, and cherry with background notes of wood and acidity.  The berries dominate the palate, followed by some drying oak tannin in the middle with a hint of vanilla and barrel char.  Finishes with a clean and strong lactic sourness, no vinegar notes detected.

Saison Bretta Prunus — Experimental Fruit Saison

Saison Bretta PrunusI was reading Michael Tonsmeire’s American Sour Beers and I got to thinking we should experiment a little — ie: “what if we reversed the usual brett. beer protocol and pitched the brett. first and the regular yeast afterwards?”  I knew that big pitches of brett. may act as a normal yeast and complete primary fermentation rather quickly (2-3 weeks), and that brett. will eat left over nutrients from dead yeast cells, creating interesting and complex esters.  So we disregarded the fact that the saison yeast would probably have few (if any) sugars left to work with and would probably die, and went ahead with the experiment to see what would happen.

We pitched the saison yeast a week after the brett. and decided to use local foraged plums that Eric picked for us, adding them about a month after a long primary for an additional two month secondary before kegging.   Recipe, process and tasting notes below:

Saison Bretta Prunus

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.50
Anticipated OG: 1.066
Anticipated SRM: 8.0
Anticipated IBU: 36
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

66.67% — 9.00 Lbs. Pilsner
14.81% — 2.00 Lbs. Munich Dark 20L
07.41% — 1.00 Lbs. White Wheat
07.41% — 1.00 Lbs. Acidulated Malt
03.70% — 0.50 Lbs. Honey Malt

Hops

1.00 oz. East Kent Golding (Pellet, 5.0% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Sterling (Pellet, 7.5% AA) @ 30 min.
1.00 oz. Sterling (Pellet, 7.5% AA) @ 5 min.

Extras

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
5 Lbs. 5 oz. wild plums (60 days)

Yeast

Wyeast 3711 — French Saison
Wyeast 5112 — Brettanomyces Bruxellensis
White Labs WLP653 — Brettanomyces Lambicus

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50 g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 90 min @ 155F

Notes

08.11.15 — Made a large starter of Brett. B and a normal starter of Brett. L

Brewed on 08.17.15 with Gregory

08.17.15 — Chilled wort to 75F and pitched the brett. starters

08.18.15 — Put onto brewbelt

08.19.15 — Signs of vigorous brett. fermentation activity

08.24.15 — Pitched the French Saison yeast

08.26.15 — Removed the brewbelt

09.14.15 — After long primary fermentation, transferred to secondary (bucket) and added the 5 Lbs. 5 oz. of plums (thawed with their juices)

09.25.15 — Gravity at 1.010

11.13.15 — Gnarly Brett. pellicle & Gravity stable at 1.008

Saison Bretta Prunus PellicleTasting Notes — 02.12.16 (poured off tap) 

A hazy beer despite the long maturation period.  Long lasting head that laces nicely with each sip.  Lush and sweet fruit on the nose akin to over-ripe apricots and nectarines, almost Starburst candy-like, with an underlying funk that reminded me of parmesan cheese when the beer was young.  The plums are front and center on the palate where their sweetness is carried along by the carbonation, and a slow decay into a round tartness occurs, bringing a less saccharine Sweet Tarts candy vibe to mind.  A quick herbal tea note announces itself if you warm the beer in your mouth.  It has a tart and tannic stone fruit-skin finish that lingers, eventually drying the palate.

Calculated OG: 1.061
Calculated FG: 1.008
Approx. ABV: 6.9%

Barrel Project #02 — Flanders Style Red

Flanders BatchesJust about a year after it was brewed, our Westland Distillery whiskey barrel aged Flanders Style Red has been removed from the barrel and is tasting wonderful.  This project saw four brewers collaborating on the recipe and brewing approximately fifteen gallons of beer each; we then blended them all into the barrel, souring it with White Labs Flemish Ale Blend WLP665, Wyeast Roeselare Blend 3763, and select bottle dregs from our favorite unpasteurized commercial sours.  We decided to do a couple of batches with a Belgian yeast strain and I included White Labs California V WLP051 in two of my batches.

Before this beer, we did a clean stout in the barrel (see Merry Christmas, It’s Endless Stout) to knock down the whiskey flavors from the freshly dumped barrel.  It worked well as there is now a pleasant hint of whiskey on the nose and far in the background on the palate of the red, lending some subtle nuance and depth.

Gregory and I have two kegs going of the straight Flanders Style Red and plan to put the remainder of our share onto different fruits, spices, and hops.  We’ll bottle condition some of these and keg the rest and I will make a new post detailing the variants as they happen.  I also saved some of the non-barrel aged portion of this sour and blended it with a funky pale ale that I will discuss in a forthcoming post.

This beer turned out great and I am very proud of it!

Flanders BarrelBarrel Project #02 — Flanders

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.75
Anticipated OG: 1.076
Anticipated SRM: 16.0
Anticipated IBU: 10.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

57% – 9.00 Lbs. US Vienna
19% – 3.00 Lbs. Pilsner
06% – 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Oats
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Special B
04% — 0.75 Lbs. CaraMunich
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Aromatic
03% — 0.50 Lbs. White Wheat

Hops

0.40 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 30 min.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP051 – California V Ale Yeast
White Labs WLP665 – Flemish Ale Blend
Wyeast 3763 – Roeselare Blend
Bottle Dregs

Water Profile

Seattle
0.20 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.30 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 154F

Notes

06.10.14 — Made a 1L starter with 1 White Labs WLP051 California V Ale vial.  Brewtoad suggests 285 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 06.12.14 / 06.13.14 / 06.26.14

06.12.14 — Chilled wort to 60F and pitched the California V Ale Yeast and the Flemish Ale Blend

06.15.14 — Signs of fermentation activity

06.26.14 / 06.27.14 / 07.10.14 — Transferred batches to secondary after two week primaries each

07.21.14 — Transferred everyone’s batches to the barrel

06.08.15 — Transferred beer to kegs and carboys for further experimentation

7.07.16 — Added 6 Lbs. Red Cherries to Flanders #1 (Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red with Cherries)

07.31.16 — Added 13 Lbs. hand foraged Blackberries to Flanders #2 (Second blackberry version — see Wild Blackberry Sour Ale for the first)

08.30.16 — Kegged Cherry Flanders — FG: 1.000 / 9.99%

 08.30.16 — Added 1 gal. Cherry Flanders to #2 and kegged sometime in October ’16
 Tasting Notes (Regular Version, bottle pour)

Along with the mild whiskey character, this beer exhibits the classic fruity Flanders Red notes of black cherry and orange with some mild vanilla peaking through.  Firm lactic sourness with just the right amount of acetic acid to balance, reminiscent of balsamic vinegar.  Very slight brettanomyces funk on the nose.  Beautiful red-brown color and clarity.

Calculated OG: 1.080
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.9%

Calculated OG: 1.076
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.3%

Calculated OG: 1.072
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 6.8%

Loomi Lime Leaf Sour Farmhouse Ale

Loomi & Lime LeavesThe loomi, also known as the black lime, is a sun-dried lime that is commonly used as a spice in Middle Eastern cooking.  Gregory had used them before in a beer and liked the results, so we decided to use them and lime leaves (we wanted makrut lime leaves, but had to settle with those found at Thriftway) for the second of our three Yeast Bay fermented ales.

For this beer we constructed a pretty basic saison recipe with minimal IBUs, and utilized The Yeast Bay’s Farmhouse Sour Ale blend which “contains two farmhouse/saison Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolates, Lactobacillus brevis, and Lactobacillus delbreuckii.”  In keeping with the citrus theme, we also decided to use a Yakima Valley Hops hop called Experimental Lemon Zest, and will add 0.50 oz. of fresh lemon zest with the dry hops five days out from kegging.

Loomi Lime Leaf Sour Farmhouse Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.50
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated SRM: 3.0
Anticipated IBU: 15.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

63% – 6.00 Lbs. American 2-Row Pale Ale
21% – 2.00 Lbs. American Pilsner Malt
10% – 1.00 Lb. U.S. White Wheat
05% – 0.50 Lbs. Honey Malt

Hops

0.30 oz. Experimental Lemon Zest (Pellet, 14.0% AA) @ 90 min (first wort).
0.70 oz. Experimental Lemon Zest (Pellet, 14.0% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 9.3% AA) @ 5 days (dry hop)
1.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 13.7 AA) @ 5 days (dry hop)
1.00 oz. Experimental Lemon Zest (Pellet, 14.0% AA) @ 5 days (dry hop)

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
3.00 oz. Black Lime @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Lime Leaves @ 0 min.
0.50 oz. Lemon Zest @ 5 days (secondary)

Yeast

The Yeast Bay – Farmhouse Sour Ale

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 154F

Notes

No starter on account of fresh yeast and the desire to keep the bugs in the blend at the manufacturer’s intended ratio.

Brewed on 03.25.15 with Gregory

03.25.15 — Chilled wort to 70F and pitched the Farmhouse Sour Ale blend

03.29.15 — Signs of moderate fermentation activity and put the carboy onto the brewbelt

04.05.15 — Took beer off of the brewbelt

05.29.15 — Tasted the beer to see if any acid had been produced per Yeast Bay’s description and decided to let the beer stay in primary for an extended period of time

09.20.15 — Kegged and began force carbonating the beer

Tasting Notes — 11.23.15 (Poured off tap)

Pours a clear pale golden color with a moderate head stand which laces thin.  Lots of lemon-lime citrus on the nose with a  hint of earth and sweet fresh lemon reminiscent of potpourri.  The citrus also dominates the palate, which is crisp and dry, with notes of tree bark and a suggestion of smoke surfacing in the middle from the loomi.  Never becoming very sour, this beer finishes with some lactic tartness, a round bitterness, and a lingering note of citrus.

Calculated OG: 1.046
Calculated FG: 1.007
Approx. ABV: 5.1%

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

Barrel Fermented Mélange Sour Pale

Melange SourThis is our first beer to undergo primary fermentation in a barrel (a used American oak Parliament Whiskey barrel), and it’s also the first in a series of three beers to feature different yeast strains from The Yeast Bay.

We used the same base recipe for this beer that we used in our Kaberene Fran Sour Pale but pitched the Mélange yeast blend in place of the Roeselare (the barrel also previously held a funked old ale so whatever critters are living in the wood will also have an impact).

Find our process, and tasting notes below:

Whiskey Barrel SourBarrel Fermented Mélange Sour Pale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.75
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 14.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

80% – 11.0 Lbs. Belgian 2-Row Pilsner
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Vienna
05% – .75 Lbs. U.S. Munich – Dark 20L
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Wheat

Hops

0.35 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 90 min.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

The Yeast Bay – Mélange Sour Blend
Used barrel terroir

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 155F

Notes

No starter on account of fresh yeast and the desire to keep the bugs in the blend at the manufacturer’s intended ratio.

Brewed on 01.21.15 with Gregory

01.21.15 — Chilled wort to 70F, transferred to the barrel, and pitched the Mélange blend

01.24.15 — Signs of moderate fermentation activity

01.29.15 — Transferred into secondary fermentor and took gravity readings

02.11.16 — Pulled a sample from the carboy.  Light lemon acidity and balanced funk.  Will package soon and may keep some on hand for blending.

05.26.16 — Packaged this by bottling half the batch with Champagne yeast and half the batch with Champagne yeast and Brett.

Tasting Notes 07.12.16 (poured from bottles)

Champagne Yeast Only:

Fizzy white head which dissipates quickly, pale yellow color with good clarity.  Vanilla and oak on the nose with a hint of lemon, aroma kind of reminiscent of cream soda.  The palate follows the nose with a sharp citric acid like bite mid-tongue.  Some mild tropical fruit notes, and a soft-round lactic acid sourness on the semi-dry finish.

Brettanomyces & Champagne Yeast:

Fizzy white head which dissipates quickly, pale yellow color with good clarity.  Brett.’s earthy, horsey-funk is up front with oaky notes in the background.  Similar palate to the  Champagne Yeast Only version, but the barnyard, leathery Brett. character definitely takes center stage.  The sourness is less defined and muted, while the funkiness is accentuated, finishes dry.

Calculated OG: 1.075
Calculated FG: 1.000
Approx. ABV: 9.86%

Brett’s A Mild Dude — Partial Fresh Hop English Style Mild With Brettanomyces

Hops 2014I have been growing my own hops for three years now with varying degrees of success.  Before we moved to Alki beach they did very well and I even had a harvest the first year (they usually need a year to acclimate to their environment, producing the second year).  Since moving to Alki my plants have produced, however, the yields have been much smaller than they were that first year.  It can get very windy where we are situated and I’m not sure if the salty sea air has a detrimental effect on their growth.  Regardless, I have been able to use those hops that do endure in partial fresh hop homebrews.

Last fall Gregory and I used my homegrown Willamette hops in our funkified take on an old standard.  We began with a basic English mild recipe and fermented it with White Labs WLP013 London Ale and White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii which resulted in a great fruity beer with light funk and a crisp dry finish.  Here’s our recipe:

Brett’s A Mild Dude — Partial Fresh Hop English Style Mild With Brettanomyces

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.875
Anticipated OG: 1.044
Anticipated SRM: 21.0
Anticipated IBU: 23.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain

67% – 6.0 Lbs. Maris Otter Ale Malt
08% – 0.75 Lbs. British Crystal 50-60L
08% – 0.75 Lbs. Brown Malt
05% – 0.50 Lbs. Flaked Oats
05% – 0.50 Lbs. British Crystal 135-165L
02% – 0.25 Lbs. American Chocolate
01% – 0.125 Lbs. Black Malt

Hops

1.50 oz. Bramling Cross (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 30 min.
0.10 0z. Fresh Hop Homegrown Willamette (Whole Cone, 5.0% AA) @ 1 min.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP013 London Ale (starter)
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Sacch. Rest – 60 min @ 153F
Mashout – 10 min @ 170F

Notes

09.01.14 – Made a stir-plate 1.5L starter with 1 White Labs WLP013 London Ale vial.  Brewtoad suggests 170 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed 09.03.14 with Gregory

09.03.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching yeast starter.

09.05.14 –  Vigorous fermentation, temperature holding steady @ 60-65F.  Fermented at this temp. for 1 week.

09.10.14 – Put fermentor onto brewbelt for 15 days.

09.25.14 – Transferred mild to secondary.

10.23.14 – Kegged and carbonated mild @ 1.65 volumes CO2.

Tasting Notes

This beer turned out great.  Notes of biscuit, nuts, and chocolate dominate the palate with vinous hints and some dry fruitiness from the Brett.  Finishes dry and crisp, with a very short finish — refreshing.

Calculated OG: 1.045
Calculated FG: 1.012
Approx. ABV: 4.3%

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.

100% Brettanomyces IPA

Brett IPAWhat do you do if you have an abundance of hops to use up and wish to make something a little more interesting than a standard IPA?  Craft a 100% Brett. IPA of course.

This brew follows a basic IPA recipe but utilizes some acidulated malt which drops the PH slightly and helps the Brett. along during fermentation.  We loaded this brew up with generous additions of Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, and Ahtanum hops for their wonderful floral and citrus notes as well as some herbal and piney undertones.

We originally pitched only Brett. Brux. Trois but had poor initial fermentation even though we had made a pretty hefty starter so we added a vial of Brett. Claussenii and fermentation picked up noticeably.  We think this will turn out to be a happy accident as (if all goes well) the Brett. C. will contribute more fruity aromatics to compliment the dry-hopping while the more aggressive Brett. Brux. Trois should add a mellow tartness and some fruity funk.  All was tasting on point at the time of transfer to secondary.

100% Brettanomyces IPA Variant 01

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.25
Anticipated OG: 1.065
Anticipated SRM: 7.0
Anticipated IBU: 45.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

75% – 10.0 Lbs. U.S. 2-Row Pale
07% – 1.0 Lbs. Carapils
07% – 1.0 Lbs. Acidulated Malt
05% – .75 Lbs. Crystal 40L
03% – .50 Lbs. Honey Malt

Hops

0.50 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 10.5% AA) @ 90 min.
0.20 0z. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 60 min.
0.40 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 10.5% AA) @ 15 min.
0.50 0z. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 10 min.
0.50 0z. Ahtanum (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 10 min.
0.25 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 10.5% AA) @ 05 min.
0.50 0z. Ahtanum (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 01 min.
0.50 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 01 min.
1.00 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 10.5% AA) @ 0 min.
0.50 0z. Ahtanum (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 0 min.
0.50 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 5 days dry hop
1.00 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 10.5% AA) @ 5 days dry hop
0.50 0z. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 5 days dry hop
0.50 0z. Ahtanum (Pellet, 6.0% AA) @ 5 days dry hop

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 75 min @ 155F

Notes

All late hop additions of “Centennial” are a 60%/40% Centennial/Columbus blend from Fremont Brewing.

10.15.14 – Made a stir-plate 2L starter with 1 White Labs WLP644 vial.  Fed it for two weeks to build cell count but never saw much activity.

Brewed 10.29.14 with Gregory

10.29.14 – Chilled wort to 70F before pitching yeast starter.

11.03.14 –  After 5 days without much activity, we pitched a vial of White Labs WLP645 with temperature holding steady at 65-68F.

11.20.14 – Transferred to secondary fermentor after 17 day primary fermentation with noticeable uptick in activity after the addition of the Claussenii.

Currently planning to let it condition for 27 days with the addition of the dry hops 5 days before kegging.

12.12.14 – Added dry hop additions.

12.17.14 – Kegged IPA with additional dry hops and carbonated and tasted it shortly thereafter.

Tasting Notes

This beer did not turn out.  Unfortunately it presents extremely grassy vegetal notes and a bracing, unpleasant bitterness.  We’ve brewed 100% Brett. IPAs before, so in our troubleshooting we have ruled out the usual suspects (old or bad ingredients, missed targets, wrong fermentation temp., uncleanliness & poor sanitation).  We were initially convinced that is was due to the stalled primary fermentation, however, when we transferred the beer to secondary it was tasting fine.  We now believe we simply had too many hop additions and the dryness that Brett. imparts accentuated the apparent bitterness.  This is our best guess even though the beer only clocks in with approximately 45 IBUs and a ratio of 0.71 IBU/OG, which is fairly low on the range of the IPA scale.  Next time we’ll stick to a simpler hop profile.  If anyone can come up with something we didn’t think of, leave a comment!

Calculated OG: 1.066
Calculated FG: 1.012
Approx. ABV: 7.1%