I currently have three 2.5 gallon batches of wild fermented beer aging in the cellar, I just sampled all three to see how they’re coming along.
This was a traditional grain bill of pilsner malt and wheat, lightly hopped with Czech Saaz, and pitched with two different yeast starters. This was soon after the Microobservatory opened, so I didn’t isolate the yeast, but batched up several starters, until they had gone through several rounds of fermentation. I chose the two the smelled the best, and let them get to work; meaning that this lambic is a truly wild blend of microbes. I also threw in a small oak spiral to simulate the traditional lambic technique of aging on oak.
Four Month Update: Tastes moderately tart (4.0 pH), and reminiscent of cider with strong lemon and apple notes, and a bassy funk flavor coming in the background. Gravity is practically at 1.00 at this point, estimating 6.5% ABV which is pretty strong for a lambic.
For this batch, I plated a promising-smelling starter to an agar plate, and isolated a yeast colony from that, batching it up and examining it under a microscope to confirm a mostly uniform population of yeast.
Two month update: Tasting this provides a seemingly note-perfect example of the “horse blanket” flavor often mentioned in discussion of beers made with Brettanomyces strains, suggesting that the yeast I carefully isolated was a larger Brett cell instead of the more traditional Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Flavors of wild beers can change substantially over time, and this beer is still relatively young, so hopefully it will evolve into something more drinkable. The sample had some small yeast flakes in it, suggesting that there’s still some sort of fermentation going on in there.
Wild Cream Ale
I previously wrote about the story behind this recipe, a hybrid between experimental wild ales and the traditional lagers of Foggy Bottom’s German breweries. Most importantly, this was fermented with a blend of commercial Kolsch yeast and the wild yeast isolated for Lambic #2.
Two Month Update: Tastes as expected… a kolsch blended with some wild Brett flavor. The horse blanket is more subdued here as it’s somewhat masked by the flavor of the commercial yeast. Also hoping this one will clear up and taste more like a lager over time.