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Old 10-20-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
MattTimBell
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Default First attempted at "wild" brewing

Hey all,

I'm preparing to brew with wild elements in a couple weeks for the first time, and wondered if I could get some advice / constructive criticisms on the rough plan I'm forming.

First, as to my goal: I'm not aiming for a particular style, per say, so much as I'm taking bits of qualities my wife and I both like (she's very picky, generally only liking the sweeter / fruitier belgians and fruit lambics with no to low hops; I like malty, hops optional) and melding them. The wife likes lambics and sours and funk, hence the wild element.

My plan, right now, is this:

Yeasts / Bugs: I'm making up at least three separate starters. One is going to be from the dregs of Wild Devil, Two is a sponteneous ferment of a weak wort made on my windowsill along the lines posted in the yeast capturing thread in this forum, Three will be some neutral ale yeast like Coopers. (If there is a fourth, I'll use the dregs from Petrus Oud Bruin.) The sponteneous ferment is already capturing, is five days old, and is bubbling steadily with a significant foam on the surface and a smell like a good sourdough starter.

Wort: I plan on mixing 4 lb munich, 4 lb pale, and 4 lb mixed adjuncts like cornmeal / oatmeal / rice / flaked wheat, and mashing at around 156 deg F, then boiling the wort with a few ounces of hops "rapidly aged" in my oven until I get down to between 5 and 6 gallons.

To ferment, I just plan on adding all three (four) of the starters as soon as the wort comes down to temp.

After things have quited down and it looks like it's ready to go to secondary, I plan on racking it on top of 4 or 5 lbs of frozen fruit from the grocery store, probably apricots if I can find them.

Any thoughts on this? Where should I modify? Or is the entire thing wrong-headed and in need of radical overhaul!

Thanks -- Matt

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Old 10-20-2010, 05:48 PM   #2
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You are certainly on the right track, but I think you might have too many things/ideas going on for your first batch of wild beer. Using a wild starter is going to add quite a bit of variability to the beer, something after 4 years of playing with Brett/Lacto /Pedio that I’m just now about to try for the first time. I think dregs are great, I haven’t tried using Petrus but I’ve read that they work well.

I wouldn’t go with a bunch of different adjuncts, 1 or 2 should be fine. We did a pale sour with pils/pale along with wheat and oats that is headed in the right direction last time I pulled a sample.

I like adding fruit later in the process, after the beer has time to age for 6+ months. It gives you time to see where the beer is headed (apricots will add a lot of acidity that you may or may not want). It also gives time for the Brett/bacteria to get established so they are the ones who consume the fruit sugars, not the primary yeast.

Hope that helps, good luck.

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:50 AM   #3
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Thanks! I found your blog, BTW, and am finding it helpful.

Mostly for curiosity's sake, I've got the completely wild yeast capture experiment continuing to mature on my windowsill. It smells like sharp cheddar cheese. Rather than use it and likely get something gross, I'm looking around to see if there's an easy source of lacto. Any ideas? I've also just tried to pitch some Wild Devil dregs into a starter. Emphasis on "try": the bottle exploded when I went to open it and foamed all over the place, making a smooth, quick decant impossible. Hopefully it works!

Thanks again.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:33 AM   #4
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We made some pretty sour beers fermenting with bread yeast and minimal hopping (~1 IBU in 1.036 beer). Worked pretty quickly as well, nice tart beer after 1 month.

If you haven't already I'd put an airlock on the ambient to prevent acetobacter from taking over once alcohol is produced.

Glad you've enjoyed the blog.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:40 AM   #5
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Do you have access to Cantillon? Dregs from that should give you plenty of lacto/pedio. I'm pretty sure the wild devil is just brett, so if you want it to sour up you'll need the lacto/pedio. I'd probably go with a few more pounds of fruit too.

Good luck!

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Old 11-02-2010, 02:36 PM   #6
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Oldsock, thanks for the comment on the bread yeast. The starter from Wild Devil seems to be forming a pellicle, now. (Although not bubbling or producing any noticible amount of CO2. Is that normal?) After I've let it go for awhile, I'll pitch it together with some bread yeast donated by the wife into something about 1.060 and let it go.

Smellysell, I don't have any access to Cantillon. Would a sourmash make an acceptable facsimile? Or could I throw a handful of uncooked malt into the secondary? Or, one final thought, I can get Petrus Oud Bruin around the corner. Would its dregs add the lacto needed?

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Old 11-02-2010, 02:50 PM   #7
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I've never had the Petrus, so can't say for sure. I've had good lucks with dregs from Lindeman's Cuvee Rene too though. It has to be Cuvee Rene because the rest of their stuff is pasteurized though.

Some malt in the secondary would give you some lacto probably, but is more unpredictable what you'll end up with. Maybe do a small starter with some grain in it and see what happens before adding it tot he entire batch?

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Old 11-02-2010, 04:55 PM   #8
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It sounds like you have the right idea.

No need to get too complicated with the malt profile, the Belgians don't, they let the wild yeast do the work. Just leave some food behind for them.

For lacto I am a big fan of doing just a proportion of your wort. So basically when you are running off your wort into your boil kettle just keep a gal of it. That will have enough lacto (and probably other bugs) keep this fermenting in a nice warm place. Once it has soured to what you like (remember it will be added back and diluted) go ahead and boil this to kill the bugs. Add this back to your currently fermenting batch.

Oldsock has a great description on his blog of a similar method
http://www.themadfermentationist.com...oud-bruin.html

It looks like you were warned, but with ambient wild yeast it is very difficult to get something that makes good beer, at least in my experience. I'm also going to try again this year. But if you are making 5 gals that takes a year then I would stick with the proven bugs.

I have had good success with bottle dregs. Check out this thread that I have listed several beers that have worked.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f127/eas...-dregs-189748/

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Old 11-03-2010, 12:38 PM   #9
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Woohoo! So, the Brett dregs from Wild Devil took to the starter, albeit a bit slower than I was expecting. The pellicle that started forming in the starter yesterday is now a whitish foam spreading out over the surface, and the airlock is bubbling steadily. (BTW, I threw out the ambient. It smelled too much like cheese.)

This now has me thinking of recipes again. Considering folk's input, I'm considering:

Recipe for ~4.5 gal.

Grain bill:
7 lbs. 2-row pale.
2 lbs. oatmeal.
Maybe 1 lb sugar, caramalized on the stovetop.

Infusion mash at 156 for 1 hr. Sparge and reserve 1 gal to culture lacto. Boil the rest down to 4 gal. with 1 oz 2.0% AA Spalt, and maybe some wintery spices. (Any suggestions?)

Cool and pitch 1 1/2 qt. brett starter, 1 tbsp. bread yeast. When reserved gallon smells sour enough, boil, cool and add to main fermentation.

After primary has had a chance to establish the brett, rack to secondary on top of 1 oz. oak chips and 2 lb. cranberries. Allow to sit for a few (?) weeks, until the brett has had a chance to take final gravity down to around 1.015 or lower. Bottle normally.

How does this sound? Am I going to get bottle bombs? Are spices going to be too rough in this?

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Old 11-03-2010, 05:30 PM   #10
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These beers are pretty fun to watch except when they take over beers you want clean.

A couple things about grain bill.
Oatmeal should work to give you some long chain dextrins but corn is more tradition.
The caramelized sugar has never worked out too well for me and I think Oldsock may agree. If you are looking for dark fruit notes and a touch chocolate then you will have better luck with the commercial D2 candi syrup. But if you want carmel, buttery flavor then go for it. I am a little afraid to try new things when making 5 gal batches that have to age for a while.

I don't know a lot about using bread yeast but I thought that Oldsock basically used it for the lacto. And you are already taking care of that.

So for the fermentation I would use any yeast you currently have or just a neutral yeast.

For spices the only sour beer I have had was New Belgium's Oscar. Which is a spiced (Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove) version of Love (unblended sour ale used in La Folie ...). That beer was super fun to drink but it also had an amazing base beer. A tonic of spices can be added at bottling. Which I find the best way to do, since you can taste and add just the right amount.

About bottling. Using Brett in Primary with Sacc is difficult to tell how it will behave. It probably depends on the pitching rate but I don't know. Usually Brett is used after primary fermentation or is in a small qty in primary and slowly eats away for 12+ months. Or it is used by itself in primary and when this happens it performs very much like a Sacc yeast and drops out at typical gravities.

To be honest I'm not sure if it is safe. It might be a good idea to measure the gravity over the course of a few months to make sure it is stabilized. Or play Russian Roulette and once one explodes throw the rest in the fridge (not recommended)

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