Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Wild Child (1/6/12)

This idea has been gestating for a while now, and we're excited to announce that we have officially brewed our first batch of wild beer. Traditional to Belgium (at least since brewers elsewhere began taming yeast), wild beers are fermented using wild yeast and bacteria, producing a host of flavors unheard of in other styles. The introduction of wild yeast like Brettanomyces and bacteria like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus creates character that runs the gamut from fruity and tart to barnyard-y, cheesy, and harshly acidic. Development of balanced flavors resulting in a drinkable beverage requires a lot of patience and luck. Harder still is producing good beer using spontaneous fermentation (fermentation that occurs without the pitching cultures of yeast and bacteria), the practice used by traditional producers of lambic and Flemish sours. We have gone ahead and inoculated our wort with a lambic culture developed by Wyeast for that purpose. Even still, the results are uncertain, as wild beer is affected by a host of factors beyond the introduction of appropriate critters, among them fermentation temperature, and accessibility of oxygen, both of which are basically out of our control.

I have no notions of recreating Cantillon; to produce something acidic and drinkable would be a success. Our recipe reflects the resources available to us. The mashtun is still unfinished, so we brewed with extract. And we don't yet have any wooden barrels, so it will be aged in glass. We used a 50% wheat malt extract in exchange for unmalted wheat (a stretch, I know).

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Volume: 4 gal
Calculated OG: 1.053
Expected FG: 1.003
Calculated ABV: 6.6
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 14
Pitching Temperature: 65F
Yeast: Wyeast Belgian Lambic Blend 3278 and Wyeast 1056
Starter: none
Fermentation vessel: 5 gal glass carboy
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 6 95% 42.00
Dextrin Powder 0.33 5% 40.00
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
UK Fuggles 1 60 4.2% 14.00

Wild beer represents a new realm of brewing for Angry Monocle, beyond brewer's yeast, and we really have no idea how its going to come out. Traditional wild beers brewed in Belgium are aged for at least a year, more often than not two or three, and we don't expect to have much in the way of results in 2012.

We opted to pitch both the lambic blend and the 1056. This follows the schedule used by Russian River in their sours, and ought to help lower attenuation and prevent any unwanted infection from Enterobacter. We plan to continue pitching yeast from the bottom of unfiltered wild ales we like. So far we have tossed in the bottom of Cantillon's St. Lamvinus and Beersel's Oud Kriek. We do not plan on racking the beer to secondary, as dead and autolysized yeast provide good nutrients for Brettanomyces. More updates to come!

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