I recently read Michael Jackson's Beer Companion and found myself fascinated with the descriptions of some of the Belgium brews and of porters fermented with bret. So... logically I began working with wild yeast(s).
As of yet I have not finished a beer using wild yeast, but I have one underway as well as two other cultures going. Here's the rundown:
Batch 1.) I brewed a big beer for a Halloween party that's coming up, an amber ale that gets spices, pumpkins and maple syrup in the secondary. I wound up with about three or so gallons of wort left over so I cooled it, put it in an ale pail, separate form the beer that's supposed to get spiced, etc, added a few pears from my brothers pear tree and left it exposed to air (with cheesecloth over the bucket) over night. It's slowly fermenting. Last week (9-5-09) it began to smell like cooked corn signaling a DMS infection, now (9-13-09) it's begun to develop fruity smells and the corn smell is fading.
Update 9-15-09 - I popped the lid off the bucket to sneak a quick look, I could see where there had been a nice krausen on the beer and the smell has begun to smell like beer with some fruity/sour overtones. I'm not sure what this means, but I could sort of "feel" the smell in my sinuses when I took a good whiff. Long aging me thinks on this one?
Batch 2.) I was at a family reunion in Wayne Co. WV on the farm my great-great grandfather and his brother homesteaded over 100 years ago. I found 3 or 4 trees left from their once extensive apple orchard. I of course peeled a few apples, put the peels in a solution of honey, water, and yeast nutrient (on 9-6-09). After a few days a good ferment was underway. I pulled the peels out and it's been going ever since. I put the jar on top of the fridge to stay warm and have been stirring it every day a couple times. Yeast is beginning to settle out (9-13-09). I've tasted the "cider" and it's quite nice. It's tart, some sour overtones, but with an underlying sweetness so far as well as some honey flavors. As soon and the ferment begins to settle down I'm going to cold crash it, pour off the liquid and pitch the slurry in a three gallon batch of hard cider.
Update 9-15-09 - I pitched this yeast into a batch of cider last night. It had a thin brown skin on it this morning when I woke up, and at lunch a thick brown krausen. By afternoon this had broken up, but now, around 9:00pm, it has a fluffy white karusen. Multiple yeasts at work here? I saved a bit of each krausen for yeast farming in some left over apple juice. The smell is fantastic, this may be on track to be my best batch of cider to date.
Batch 3.) This has been the most challenging, but it seems to be going now. Around the first of September I took blackberries picked in my back yard and mashed them in a solution of sugar and nutrient. I poured the mix into a growler and fitted and airlock. For a week or more nothing happened. Then it began to grown mold... then it began to ferment, but slowly. I skimmed off the mold (don't even ask how, that was a tuffy) and am letting it go on top of the fridge next to the jar of cider. When the ferment seems to have slowed or stopped. I plan to pour the mix through a strainer to get the berries and such out. I will then cold crash the liquid, hopefully getting the yeast to settle out so the liquid can be poured off and the slurry pitched into a batch of wine.
I thought I would post this description here for anyone that is as interested in wild brews as much as I am. I'll try and periodically update this thread to keep you all posted on my experiments if there is any interest (so please chime in if you are in fact interested).
Cheers and happy fermentations!