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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.
 
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