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MarkO
07/03/08 06:35 PM  
Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
The point of this regrettably long thread is to solicit results from experiments of a similar nature, or opinions of any kind.

Abstract: I pitched a bunch of wild yeasts and bacteria, fermented them at high temperatures (while intentionally attempting to minimize lactobacillus, and ended up with a completely neutral, "1056-" tasting beer; am surprised.

About a month ago I brewed a beer with wild yeasts isolated from a sourdough starter. I collected the starter during a warm summer week about four years ago, and have been using it to make bread ever since; the resulting bread can range in flavor from "pretty damn sour" to "are you sure this isn't straight Fleischmann's quick-rise?" If I let it go for a long time at warm ambient temps it is nice and sour, while shorter risings in cooler temperatures have a very mild flavor, to the point of having no lactic character at all.

The beer I made was very low gravity -- 1.030, in order to increase hop utilization and suppress lactobacillus.

A year ago, I made a sour beer with this same culture. Starting with a pLambic turbid mash with very light hopping, and a single night in the koelschip, I pitched some of the starter into a carboy, left it open (well, "sealed" it with a wad of paper in the opening, to keep the fruit flies out). one year later, this beer has a very thick pellicle and the flavor seems to have stabilized; it is fairly acidic with a strong lactic character and zero acetic (and for me, zero acetic is a good thing, particularly for beers from open fermenters).

So I could not imagine that last month's beer would not turn out acidic, and wanted to test high hop rates and reduction of lactobacillus activity -- this time, I wanted to try to obtain a non-sour beer from the same yeast. I hopped the hell out of a low-gravity wort (1.030 as state above, with 5 ounces of cascades in a two-hour boil). I then pitched some of the starter, and had a nice looking (closed, this time) fermentation going in short order. The yeast was a total top-cropper, with small greenish-brown floating colonies once the kraeuzen died down. The little yeast colonies looked exactly like what I get out of the Wyeast Whitbread (1099?) Fermentation took place for one month at 70 to 90 degrees, although within six days gravity was down to less than 1.010.

So, I kegged the stuff today. I was expecting a beer with considerable wild flavors, from the combination of all-wild yeasts, possible residual lactobacillus, high temps, etc.

And what did I get? Basically a very neutral-tasting "ordinary bitter!" It is pretty bitter, obviously, from all of the hops, but I really can't detect any yeast-based flavor contribution, esters, etc.

I might as well have pitched a Wye-te Labs Ballantine monoculture.

At the very least I expected a strong-tasting "Belgian" profile (like, say, what one gets out of Dupont or Blaugies yeasts at summery temps -- you can't call that neutral!).

And I would love to hear what anyone else has gotten from wild saccharomyces experiments.

SteveG
07/03/08 10:08 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
It sounds like a couple things are being described here Mark, the beer in question is the one month old 1.030 brew?
CDH
07/04/08 07:51 AM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
Might there be perception issues going on here too?

How many people have tasted the beers and agree with you that they're yeast-boring?

Have you blown out your taste buds gargling with Cantillon and drinking Rodenbach Grand Cru for breakfast?

Mike T
07/04/08 01:04 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
I just tried the first bottle of my imperial sourdough Kvass (OG 1.045, 7 IBUs) which was fermented with a San Francisco sourdough starter. I had similar results, tasty but a bit "lame" compared to what I was expecting. At this point it is 6 weeks old, clean with lots of bready flavors.
MarkO
07/04/08 02:47 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
Steve,

Yes, that is what I meant -- I was expecting a blow-out in weird flavor from the small beer, and got neutral tasting stuff.

And CDH -- that is very, very possible. And also possible that the high bitterness is masking some more subtle flavors/esters from the yeast. Either way, I should run it by some others.

Mike -- the Kvass sounds tasty.

BPotts
07/04/08 03:26 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
Perhaps the beer was too small and the yeasts ran out of fuel before they really got to produce any flavors...
MarkO
07/07/08 05:38 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
That is a good point. I will give the yeast another workout this evening with a 1.070 wort, smaller hop bill, and more time in the fermenter to see what happens.
Luber
07/27/08 05:47 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
Aren't hops mildly antibiotic? I thought one of the reasons they superseded most other herbal beer bittering was that they were a better preservative than the older gruits. Assuming your volume is the standard 5 gal, depending on the hop AA and form (whole or pellet) my old Alephenalia Hop-Go-Round (http://shop.beertown.org/brewers/dept.asp?dept_name=Brewing+Tools&dept_id=5003&s_id=0)

indicates you're getting 90-180 IBU in that wort - pretty hoppy!

I've been baking with a homerolled SD starter for over a year now that I really like, and have noticed that same phenom: how sour the bread is really depends on fermentation conditions. I'm curious now to brew something with it, but it may be a while till I get around to it - too many brews in the queue already! But I'll report back when I do - I'll likely go for something in a more normal hop rate, maybe an English Mild or Bitter. Keep us updated with your experiments too.

Also for the bakers out there here's a guy with a great website about his experiments with sourdough bread:

http://samartha.net/SD

MarkO
07/29/08 05:58 PM  
Re: Wild saccharomyces fermentations, and flavor
"Aren't hops mildly antibiotic? I thought one of the reasons they superseded most other herbal beer bittering was that they were a better preservative than the older gruits. Assuming your volume is the standard 5 gal, depending on the hop AA and form (whole or pellet) my old Alephenalia Hop-Go-Round (http://shop.beertown.org/brewers/dept.asp?dept_name=Brewing+Tools&dept_id=5003&s_id=0)

indicates you're getting 90-180 IBU in that wort - pretty hoppy!"

Yeah, that was actually the point of the heavy hop bill: to limit the growth of gram positive bacteria in the medium, so I could see what the wild saccharomyces were like, in terms of flavor. I also dug into my stock of aged hops for this one, so it didn't turn out that bitter.

 
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