Your results from catching wild yeast?

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clone63

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I've been thinking of trying to keep a house mead going from a wild ferment and the more I think about it, I realize I'm not sure what I'm looking for other than some more flavour dimension. I like funkiness and things that taste ... fermented. But not sure what I consider an ideal capture. So just curious, successful or not (especially not), what flavours have the wilds imparted on your brews?
 

Funky Frank

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My wild captures have been about 50% unusable, 30% clovey Belgian bombs, and 20% lightly fruity English-like.
 

RPh_Guy

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I've been thinking of trying to keep a house mead going from a wild ferment and the more I think about it, I realize I'm not sure what I'm looking for other than some more flavour dimension. I like funkiness and things that taste ... fermented. But not sure what I consider an ideal capture. So just curious, successful or not (especially not), what flavours have the wilds imparted on your brews?
Wild yeast have a very different impact depending on whether you're talking about wine (mead) vs beer. I'm sure the above reply was about beer.

Wild captures for wine are generally way more successful. I've had overwhelmingly positive results from the few wild-fermented ciders I've made. In my experience the wild microbes give a little fruity character, and sometimes a little spice. I enjoy them much more than using commercial yeast.

The other day I drank a bottle of one of my 2018 100% wild cider batches and it was 5 star. I think it might have some Brettanomyces, but it's so subtle it's hard to be sure. It's lightly fruity with a hint of earthy phenolic funk.


I realize I'm not sure what I'm looking for other than some more flavour dimension.
Flavor ...and alcohol. :)
 

Hoppy2bmerry

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I’ve read that yeast producing favorable qualities tend to live on fruit, I suppose that is true since there was a time that vintners just crushed the grapes and didn’t add yeast. So capturing yeast from unprocessed fruit/berries could produce something pleasing.

As far as unpleasantness, my sourdough starter often smells like acetone, which is not a problem for baking, but surely is bad for beverages.
 

RPh_Guy

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You can't extrapolate to mead from sourdough. The conditions are very different.

All manner of things outside can have good yeast cultures. I've captured strains from bark, leaves, flowers, vegetables, and fruit.
 

Hoppy2bmerry

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You can't extrapolate to mead from sourdough. The conditions are very different.

All manner of things outside can have good yeast cultures. I've captured strains from bark, leaves, flowers, vegetables, and fruit.
I was not suggesting using sourdough for brewing that’s why I specified unpleasantness.
 

bernardsmith

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I was not suggesting using sourdough for brewing that’s why I specified unpleasantness.
But your "sour"dough has plenty of lactic acid caused by lactobacteria that love grains (flour). You can "capture" those bacteria in less than a week by simply malting grains (wheatberries, for example) - takes 3 days for them to sprout and then you pour a gallon of water onto the sprouts and let it sit for 3 more days and the beverage is known as rejuvelac and it is deliciously sour. I've used this to make "sour" meads.
 

GarylandTerps

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My father in law ferments cider every fall by pressing apples and just letting it go for a while in 5 gallon carboys, using whatever yeast was on the apples. Last year we got a really awesome spiciness that I've only ever tasted once before in a cider and it was amazing. I actually harvested some and am currently using it to sour a beer.

He also has a tendency to end up making applejack out of a few gallons...not complaining!
 
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clone63

clone63

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Loving the inputs, thanks all reply-ers!
 

Brewbuzzard

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You can't extrapolate to mead from sourdough. The conditions are very different.

All manner of things outside can have good yeast cultures. I've captured strains from bark, leaves, flowers, vegetables, and fruit.
Have you heard of Scratch Brewery? They're a small craft brewery in the woods in Ava Illinois ( a very small town). They use wild yeast and bacteria from different plants, fungi, trees, and whatever. They also grow their own hops and herbs. They have brewed collaboration beers with Jesterking around Austin Tx. I go there every time I'm back home, I grew up just 27 miles from Ava. Check them out if you love funky. They even built their own pizza oven out of clay. Great pizza.
 

RPh_Guy

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Have you heard of Scratch Brewery? They're a small craft brewery in the woods in Ava Illinois ( a very small town). They use wild yeast and bacteria from different plants, fungi, trees, and whatever. They also grow their own hops and herbs. They have brewed collaboration beers with Jesterking around Austin Tx. I go there every time I'm back home, I grew up just 27 miles from Ava. Check them out if you love funky. They even built their own pizza oven out of clay. Great pizza.
Sounds very cool. I hadn't heard of them and unfortunately they're a bit far from me.

About the sourdough, I was just trying to say that like beer, experiences with sourdough don't really translate to wine. "Acetone" smell is hopefully unlikely in a wild capture in wine/juice/diluted honey/sugar because it results from a mix of anaerobic and aerobic metabolism (sugar to ethanol to acetic acid to ethyl acetate), which should be prevented by keeping the culture anaerobic once fermentation begins. Also perhaps higher alcohols and/or phenolics could be mistaken for "acetone" because they are a bit similar. There won't be a significant level of phenolics in a mead. Different conditions and growth media give different results.
 

henchman24

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I've tried a few methods over the years to get a wild culture and had very little success over most beer starters left somewhere. Fruit can be done, but can still be a bit of a mold factory too and unpredictable. I was surprised, but tree bark is about the best and easiest way to get some wild yeast. Especially on my flowering and fruit trees. Yeast seemed to love those. I haven't really kept any of those though.

My best wild culture was a spontaneous ferment. I tried a few times before getting one to work, but simply I made a zero hop wort on my setup inside (during the spring when night time temps were still cold), didn't chill, pre-acidified, covered with cheesecloth, left the window open that evening and night, then racked into a fermenter. Took about a week to get going, but fermented out nicely. The beer didn't turn out all that great, but had some nice notes to it and became good blending stock. It was aggressively sour, and had a noticeable acetic acid component. It was also very, very thin. On the good side, it has a really delicate and great white wine, grape sort of flavor and a light funk that I knew could be harnessed. That was ~3 years ago when I captured it. Now after running more than a few beers from it, I've learned how to get some of the desirable flavors from it while holding back the acetic acid. I have even trained it to be able to run through a NEIPA sort of hop schedule and still provide some sourness (and it pairs beautifully with Nelson Sauvin). It isn't my best sour culture, but it provides some real nice depth in blends and I've used it to spruce up a couple of my sour cultures that are producing noticeably better beer with it.

I haven't ever made a mead, so no idea how that would translate and I'd expect the flavor contribution to be far different.
 

enkamania

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My first wrangle came out great. I captured yeast from near the rhododendron. I paired it with British V yeast in a blonde and it came out like a summer shandy.

Second wrangle came out like lemon and I ditched it.

Third wrangle is in the test batch phase. This was cherry blossoms and it smells like wine. I'll find out tomorrow if I will use it.
 

OldDogBrewing

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I captured some yeast (don't know if a single strain or different ones) from my garden a while back, it's mainly phenols, gravity goes down pretty fast and really low, no noticeable sourness so I'm waiting to see if it develops Brett or it's just "yeast", by now it leaves a vegetable like notes that have evolved to cinnamon like notes

It's mainly for saisons but phenols are so pronounced that make the alcohol taste a bit harsh so we will see
 

OldDogBrewing

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Brett is yeast. :)
I know, as other wild yeasts are in the yeast family, but I like to think about it as being different, so sometimes I leave it completely out of the yeast group, I know I shouldn't do so.

I think of it being something in its own because it's sturdier so I can treat it pretty harshly hahaha I would never treat like that any Saccharomyces strain
 

couchsending

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Third spontaneous attempt is fermenting nicely. Had lows in the 20s last week so I took advantage. Took about 5 days to start to see activity but has a pretty thick krausen at the moment. Split 6 gallons into two 3g fermenters. Pitch two Brett strains into one and just left the other to do its thing.

Last batch I did in January is still showing signs of fermentation and has some steady airlock activity. Krausen was completely different on the last batch vs this one. Hopefully in a year or so it resembles beer.
 

OldDogBrewing

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Third spontaneous attempt is fermenting nicely. Had lows in the 20s last week so I took advantage. Took about 5 days to start to see activity but has a pretty thick krausen at the moment. Split 6 gallons into two 3g fermenters. Pitch two Brett strains into one and just left the other to do its thing.

Last batch I did in January is still showing signs of fermentation and has some steady airlock activity. Krausen was completely different on the last batch vs this one. Hopefully in a year or so it resembles beer.
My spontaneous inoculated wort started to ferment today too, but I don't have krausen, just a layer of well fromed smallish bubbles, like the head of a beer, but there is no trace of the coat that makes krausen look like a meringue or melted marshmellos

In a couple of weeks I will take a sample and check its vital stats and try to see by the smell if it's going ok or it's a dumper
 

GeneDaniels1963

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I am doing a yeast capture off of my blackberries right now. The must is blackberry juice and sugar water, about 1.050. It is going great.

I've done wild ferments for a number of wines and all were great. But I want to try this on some gruit, so I am hoping my blackberry yeast starter will do it. I can always add some nottingham to it a couple days into the process if needed.
 

OldDogBrewing

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Yesterday I had to change the airlock to a blow off tube as the Krausen was getting high pretty fast, today I woke up to the bottle from the blow-off full of krausen, it's a 1.045 OG beer with the regular head space I leave for all my beers of this gravity

So that's something we need to keep in mind when capturing yeast, the unpredictability of the process, the other yeast I captured in the past, makes a 2 cm tall Krausen that falls in 12 hour aprox, this one with just 1.045 and it needed a blow off tube, so it's probaby not the same strain or combination of strains
 

goodolarchie

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I've placed very, very mildly hopped (we're talking 5-6 grams for 10 gallons) saison wort in various places around my yard, in traditional (Nov-Feb) months of Lambic making, when the night-time temps tend to bottom out in the low 40's F. Many simply don't kick up, and after 4-5 days I give up and dump them.

My best result was actually in the windowsill of the brewhouse, which backs up to a bunch of shrubs. There's definitely brett in the mix, it gets somewhat smoky over time, but when it's young it has a nice peppery phenol quality. The capture is 1.5 years old and the original beer is still aging, it's... interesting, but not something I'd commit to a barrel, etc. I'll keep experimenting in the winter, but my results show that until I've really exhausted experimentations with known commercial strains, dregs, and other traditional sources, I'm not really missing out by not capturing my terroir via a koelschip.
 

bernardsmith

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You might try allowing the wort to gently cool rather than placing cool wort around your yard. I am not certain but I think that there is a sweet spot for wort as it cools that is like an incubation haven for bacteria and yeast. Certainly you are likely to capture lacto bacilli that way but if you added a handful of crushed fruit or some bark or flower heads that have been visited by pollinators you are also likely to capture some wild yeast.
 

Kenmoron

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I've attempted wild captures using various flowers and also some raspberries from my backyard. The only thing that didn't get moldy was the raspberries. The yeast ended up producing some surprisingly clean beers. I've fermented it at 65, 72, and 80F and even at the upper end it's still pretty clean with some very light fruity esters.

In regards to the comment about not using a sourdough starter because it smells like acetone, that is not true. The presence of oxygen can really alter the biproducts of a fermentation (why brett beers can taste like acetone or vinegar if exposed to too much oxygen). In fact, my sourdough starter also has a fruity, slightly solvent and acetone-like quality to it. Recently, I pitched a heaping tablespoon into a 1 gal batch of unhopped wort. The krausen was oddly pinkish, but it attenuated nicely (~74%). I ended up doing a small Citra dry-hop. The final product comes across as a fruity, gingery sour beer (final pH 3.4).
 

monkeymath

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I just poured about 2 litres of left-over wort into a plastic container and left it there. Started fermenting just three days later, quite an active and seemingly health fermentation even. Initially, there was a strong, somewhat fart-y smell of corn (?) that I had previously gotten from similar attempts, but then the aroma became quite pleasant, floral and orange-y (likely from the First Gold hops).

It's now been about two months and so I recently sampled it: there's still a bit of corn and a somewhat odd bitterness, but it's definitely drinkable. I wouldn't want a full pint of it, but I'm planning to use the dregs for some future lambic-esque brew.

Damn, I need more cellar space ...
 
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