Has anybody heard of this practice?

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gtpro

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I was at a beer tasting a couple weeks ago, great fun and I got to talk to some micro and homebrewers. One dude was just a distributor of Belgian and European styles, not a brewer himself. He seemed pretty knowledgeable about different styles and what goes into them but he said one thing thing that stuck out as seeming a bit out there.

And I am paraphrasing here.
He mentioned that some Belgian monastery-style beer was brewed in large open fermentation vessels on the top floor of buildings with the windows wide open, resembling chicken coops. This allows the natural yeast strains that exist in and around the brew house to freely inoculate the beer.

I just dont see how these world renowned breweries could produce any shred of consistency between batches if they just let wild yeast and bugs set up camp in their precious wort.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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It's called a cool ship and spontaneous fermentation. The beers produced are Lambics or just wilds.

And they blend batches for consistency. And for the record, even with all the precision and control of state of th art breweries like Anheiser-Bush/InBev, they blend batches for consistency too.

Edit: In fact, some people used to make a very good living as third party companies who did nothing but blend beers like this for consistency. Not sure how much of this is still practiced today tho'.
 

carnevoodoo

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gtpro, you're in Maine... Think about taking a trip to Allagash sometime. They have a coolship and do spontaneous fermentation out there. Probably among the leaders in America on different wild ales.
 

PanzerBanana

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Lambics can be pretty tasty. Definitely, different. At least the few I've had, kinda like wine and beer hybrid.
 

SteveM

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The story is that the walls and ceilings of those open rooms are never cleaned, so that the wild yeast cultures that thrive there will deliver that spontaneous fermentation.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Thus proving that there are no absolute rules in brewing. One of the most sacred is careful sanitizing. It would defeat the purpose in this case.
Not true. The brewery is sanitary enough but since wild yeast and lactic acid bacterium are responsible for the style there is no need to be over zealous in removing them. Yes, they do want them in the beer. But, it's not like they invite flocks of birds into the attic to take dumps on teh coolships and it's not like the coolships aren't cleaned between fermentations.

Most of the breweries are also surrounded by orchards that also support the wild yeasts and bacteria. The vents are opened to allow wind current to deliver terroir from the outside and to stir up the resident terroir.

So, these berweries do have rules and sanitation but just like you nurture the yeast responsible for your product and protect your environment from immigrants they invite them and protect them.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Lambics, Flanders, Gueze/Gose, Faro. All variants of this practice. In the US, most breweries utilize innoculated barrels since the local Terroire is not conducive to good, funky beer. There are exceptions.
 
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gtpro

gtpro

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gtpro, you're in Maine... Think about taking a trip to Allagash sometime. They have a coolship and do spontaneous fermentation out there. Probably among the leaders in America on different wild ales.
I cant believe I havent done this yet, probably because I dont drink much Allagash on my college beer budget, but mmboy it is tasty. Ill schedule that in.

Heres a funny story: Saw a bottle of Curieux at the discount beer store by my school once for $6 and passed it up not realizing what I was looking at. The next time I saw it at the grocery store for $16 I was really kicking myself.
 
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