Friday, July 4, 2014

Stuck vs. Unstuck


In the summer of 2012, I brewed a Honey-Wheat beer using the harvested yeast from a bottle of Lakefront's Wisconsinite.  It was light in color, flowery and Belgian in taste, and I liked it more than I thought I would, even when I was drinking it; every time.  This spring, I thought, "Hey, let's do that again!"  And this time, I planned to use the harvested yeast from the bottom of a bottle of that beer I made, continuing the strain out another generation.  "They" tell us that you can't do that too many times with a commercial strain, or it starts to drift from the flavor profile and other characteristics of what you bought.  But this is a wild strain, a perfect natural balance of multiple strains that should propagate indefinitely, just as it has in nature for millions of years.  

Unless it's been starving in a bottle in the basement for two years, and you don't bother to make a starter out of it.  Then maybe nothing happens.  So maybe you throw in the trub from a bottle of some other Belgian thing you've got going, and maybe that does nothing as well.  Then maybe it starts to get a telltale white film on it and you've never really seen any bubbles out of the airlock for like six weeks now.  That's when you know it's time to forgo your hippie plans to live off the grid with self-perpetuating yeasts, relent to the military/industrial commercial yeast powers-that-be, and bring out the big guns.

Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic Blend.  

If this batch was funky before, no one will ever know.  Within 12 hours of pitching these beasties, it had an inch of kreusen, and within 48, it had crested and come down.  So I added three pounds of honey, and that kept things frisky.  Also, note that I'm not using an airlock just yet, but a piece of cheesecloth, just to keep things clean.  This is a foray into open fermentation, albeit a very controlled one.  It's also an experiment in sours, which are not a genre I typically like.  Just as Dan has his Bucket of Truth, I now have this vessel; long may it transmute the ordinary into the extraordinary.

It just needs a name...