Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wild Yeast Micro-Saison

To continue with both my session beer kick and my funky brewing project this week I decided to brew with some local wild yeast that I harvested back in January. I wanted to brew something that would display the yeast quality well without too many other competing flavors. That's why I went with a very low ABV saison. I'm posting about this because for one I think it's really cool to gather your own yeast, but also because there's not really a lot of info available. The pic above is from when I propped it up. You can see the yeast cake on the bottom. The plastic ontop. Is because all of my airlocks were already in use.

I've tried harvesting wild yeast before but all I would get was mold and/or something that just smelled rank. Here in Texas the mold is pretty high so its not the best environment for catching wild yeast. What made this attempt different was that for one it was on one of the few cold nights we see in San Antonio, I've read that during colder weather the bugs are more at bay. I also made sure to wait for a night when the weather report listed the mold count as low/none.

I whipped up a weak dme sollution of 1.030(ish) and split it into two seperate mason jars. I covered them with a bit of cheesecloth to keep flies out and left them out overnight. One went out on my front porch and another on my back porch. Once brought in I covered them with plastic. I ignored it for a while, then before I knew it it had been a week. Checked it and... nada. Nothing had happened. After another 5 days one finally fermented with some nice little yeast rafts floating on top. Two days later the second followed suit. I decided to prop them up together with some late runnings from my lambic. I shook well, gave it nutrient etc... and nada. I decided to leave it alone and ended up forgetting about it. Two weeks had passed and I went to throw it out and sure enough there were yeast rafts on top and a cake on the bottom. I crash chilled it and left it. Then two nights ago I decanted it and threw in another round of starter wort, this time it took off in 12 hours.

When I decanted I took a sample. The smell was wonderful, very fruity with notes of lemongrass and peach plus a light spice. There was also a light sourness to the aroma and a bit of funk. The mouthfeel was quite silky and full. So perfect for a saison.

The brewday was very easy with a very small and simple grainbill. I went with a no sparge method to help accentuate the malt profile. The grainbill was simple, half Vienna half malted wheat. I chose both of those malts to help with the body/malt impression of the beer. The high percentage of wheat should make the mouthfeel reasonably full and the vienna malt should add a bit of breadiness to it. For hops I went with classic Czech Saaz, their spiciness should play well with the characters that I was picking up from the yeast. I only did a single 15 minute addition of the hops, depending on where this beer goes I may end up adding a dry hop addition.

Mash profile: Medium dry 151
OG: 1.032
IBUs: 7.4

Mash ingredients
3lbs. Vienna malt
3lbs. White wheat

1oz. Czech Saaz 4.1% AA 15 minutes.

Yeast: Wild caught yeast from 78247 area code.

Quick update: Despite the long lag time from when I propped this up it took off like a rocket today with onlya six hour lag time.

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