Monday, October 5, 2015

First Wild Brew

I'm excited to say that I finally pitched yeast on my first wild brew.  I've been wanting to do this for quite a while, simply out of curiousity.  The results being, that back in June I "harvested" (it was airborn) assorted yeast, microbes, and I don't know what else from the garden--this is known as an "ambient" starter (as opposed to one started from fruit skins, or flower petals).  See the prior blog post (here) for the journal of the starters.

What this is, is a semi-spontaneous fermentation.  I say the semi, since a completely spontaneous fermentation would have used the full volume of wort, and no starters to make sure it won't just go bad--too risky for me.  For information on Spontaneous fermentations, like lambics, read here.  The Milk the Funk wiki, and their FB group are both very good sources of information.  This article is also a good one.
The wild capture starter in the middle is the one being used.

I am quite looking forwards to seeing what comes out of this--and, because I like to dream big, even though they rarely happen, dream of (1. Sizing this up to a full 5 gallon (or greater, since I acquired a demi-john which I suspect is 7.8ga) in six to eight months, and/or (2. Making a 100% local beer (preferably entirely from my property).

Enough chatter, and on the the recipe.

I wanted something fairly simple, to allow the yeast shine (I hope!) through, and went with a grain bill of 40% each of pilsner and pale ale, and 20% of wheat malt.  2.5lbs for the one gallon--I desired something a bit stronger than lambics usually are brewed at.
As usual, the mash didn't go well--as it began cooling further than desired, I turned the heat on, then got distracted (shame on me, I know) so it went up into the mid-160s.  Regardless, I did get wort, and went with a nearly two hour boil.  The hops used (which went in at first wort) were locally grown (in Anchorage) saaz, which dried and aged in the open for 10 months before I tossed them in the freezer (I received them at a camping event, several days after harvesting, so it was almost a week before I /could/ do anything with not entirely my fault).

As I said in the brew log post, I decanted the spent starter off the lees, and added a good 8oz of apple juice, since it was on hand.  It showed signs of fermentation within a few hours, producing a modest krausen (not as much as previously, but cheap apple juice has little in the way of proteins).  I swirled it occasionally throughout the evening and night, and pitched the lot into my fermenter once the wort was cool.

That was 4-5 hours ago, and there is now an inch of foam on top, and it's bubbling every couple seconds.

Photo taken around an hour ago.
12-14-15; It has been a couple of months, and I haven't really seen signs of fermentation for a while.  The current SG (and probable FG) is 1.016--it didn't attenuate as much as I thought it would.  The flavour is amazingly clean--no sign of brett or lactic bacteria (didn't think I would have the bacteria--the starters contained hops to prevent it)--and the main flavour is a slightly sweet maltiness.  There may be a mild nuttiness that could be from the yeast.

2-3-16; Bottled, FG is unchanged.  I got 8 bottles, and bottled with 1 oz of sugar.

5-3-16; It's finally developing! This is the beer I brewed last october with my wild capture. It's finally developing in the bottle and I'm getting some interesting flavors.
Don't know what I'm tasting, but I like it.

© John Frey, 2015. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.  The recipes, photographs and other contents therein may not be used for any commercial purposes.

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