Monday, December 19, 2011

Roeselare Update


Poured bacterial nutrient agar with malt extract mixed in. I figured this would allow for the growth of all the organisms in the yeast mix. I took two samples from the packet and plated them onto media. I added the remaining yeast to a wort of 1.040 gravity made from malt extract so that they could be used at a latter point in time.

Plates filled with Agar

Roeselare Yeast with plates and heat lamp.
There is growth on the plates, although not as much as I had hoped. I plan on going into the school were I teach/attend and using their high powered microscope and take a closer look at what is growing. I will at least be able to tell the difference between the yeast and the two bacteria that should be growing on the plate.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cherry Ale (Brettanomyces)

I wanted to make a Christmas beer to bring home for family and friends over the holiday. I knew that I wanted it to by unusual but still palatable to the majority of my family, who are more likely to drink wine than beer. I decided that I would do a brown ale with cherries and try to hit end up with a beer than was both hearty and sweet with a hint of cherry. At the last minute I decided to ferment the beer using the Brettanomyces that I had previously cultured from a Russian River bottle of Sanctification, which I realize might ruin its ability to be enjoyed by my target audience but whatever.

Brew Date 11/20/2011

2.5 pounds American 2-Row
2 pounds German Munich
1/3 pound Caramel 120
1/3 pound Special-B
1/3 pound Vienna
1/3 pound Malted Wheat

Mashed in 3 gallons of water to hold at 150F for 60 minutes
Sparged with 2 gallons of water at 180F

To boil added 1 can of dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup and 3/4 oz of Sterling 7% at the beginning of a 60 minute boil.

Calculated IBU 30

Original Gravity 1.052
Cooled and pitched Brett and set heat belt at 75 F

11/21 Bubbling nicely with a puffy head
11/28 Moved to secondary and added 1 can of cherries, gravity 1.022
12/10 gravity 1.021 Bottled 2 gallons using 37.44 grams of cane sugar in 1/2 cup of boiling water

Flower Farmhouse Ale

This beer was my first attempt at using microbes to add complexity to a beer. The brew was inspired by one a tried at my local brewery that was brewed with several flowers. I used dandelions, lavenders, and bachelor buttons to add a flowery flavor to the beer. During the secondary I added Brettanomyces that was cultured from a bottle of Russian Rivers Sanctification. Overall the beer turned out very well although it does not contain the amount of sour taste that I was hoping for.

7.5 pounds of American 2-row
2 pounds German Malted Wheat
1.5 pounds Cara-Pils
0.75 pounds of honey
1 pound of Rye Malt
1oz of US Saaz (AA 4.9%) added at start of boil
2 cups of dandelion flowers added at 10 minutes

Mashed in 16 quarts of water @ 135 F to conduct a protein rest for 15 minutes
Added in 6 1/2 quarts boiling water to bring the temperature to 150 F for 60 minutes

OG 1.058

Added Belgian Saison Wyeast 3724

6/14 Gravity 1.020
6/15 Gravity 1.010
6/30 Moved beer to secondary and added Brettanomyces with 8 lavender sprigs and 1 cup of bachelor buttons.

Bachelor Buttons

A sick beer

8/12 Added freshly cultured Brettanomyces to the beer and bottled the beer in champagne bottles with cork.
9/15 Bottles are sick, ie there is a white pelicile at the neck of each bottle.
12/15 Tasting:

The beer pours a very light gold color and has almost no visible carbonation. The aroma is very funky, present are some aromas of summer like flowers and honey, but also present is barnyard and vinegar. The beer tastes very unusual. It is a little bit tart in the finish and the body is very thin. There is also a lot of funk in the taste,  like a boiled boot.
Overall I think this was a success just because I was able to use Brett that was cultured from a bottle to add both acidity and funk to the beer. I most note that some of the funk could have come from other organisms living on the flowers that I did not sanitize before I added.
If I were to brew this beer again I would want to let it sit in the secondary longer and with some more variety, Brett did a nice job but it would have been nice to have some lactic acid present.

Elderberry Belgian Ale

Brewed this beer back on 4/2/2011

Went to the brew store looking for inspiration with a buddy. He wanted to do something unlike any brew we had ever done before. We noticed some elderberries that were intended to be used for wine making. We picked up a package and grabbed some oak chips to try them out. After spending about 30 minutes picking out stems from the elderberries we were ready to start brewing.

6 pounds American 2-Row
4 pounds Malted Wheat
1 pound Rye
1/2 pounds Melanoidin
1/2 pounds Cara Biscuit
1 pound of honey
1oz Fuggle Hops for 15min
2 1/4 oz Elderberries for 15 min
1.5 oz Cascade Hops for 10 min

Mashed 60 minutes at 150 F with 2 quarts/pound
Sparged with 2.5 gallons for 30 min at 175 F

Original Gravity: 1.058
Added Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

Gravity @ 1.010
Transferred beer to glass carboy and added 4oz oak chips and 2oz of Elderberries

Bottled 4 1/2 gallons with 85 grams of sugar

First Tasting: The beer is perfectly carbonated. The oak comes through very strongly and gives the beer a wood/earthy taste that seems kind of musty. If I were to brew this beer again I would switch to a saison yeast and cut out two pounds of grain from the recipe to make it a little drier and lower in alcohol.

Second Tasting: The beer is about 18SRM in color, The head retention is just awesome and lasts the entire drinking session. The beer is a bit winey and is fairly sweet. Their is a little acidic bite to the beer but not like vinegar, more like burnt oak.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Experiment 1: Roeselare Ale Blend

This is a blend of microbes put together by Wyeast Laboratories. The description for the yeast reads:

 "Our blend of lambic cultures produce beer with a complex, earthy profile and a distinctive pie cherry sourness. Aging up to 18 months is required for a full flavor profile and acidity to develop. Specific proportions of a Belgian style ale strain, a sherry strain, two Brettanomyces strains, a Lactobacillus culture, and a Pediococcus culture produce the desirable flavor components of these beers as they are brewed in West Flanders. Propagation of this culture is not recommended and will result in a change of the proportions of the individual components. This blend will produce a very dry beer due to the super-attenuative nature of the mixed cultures."

What I want to know is if this package really contains all of these organisms and how well can these organisms work in concert to brew a sour ale.

What I intend to do is to take a package of Roeselare and plate out all the organisms that are in the package in order to isolate each separate organism. In order to do this I have purchased plates and agar online and plan to make plates that contain agar, malt extract, and nutrient broth. This should insure that all the organisms 
have everything that they could possibly need to survive whether they are yeast or bacteria. It will also allow me to create my own separate cultures of each microbe for latter experimentation.

After isolating the organisms I am going to use a second package of Roeselare to brew a batch of beer and take notes as it progresses. At the same time I will create a second batch of beer to which I will add the microbes one at a time (Saccharomyces first, then Brett and Bacteria) and compare the two final products.

Intention of the Blog

"Beer is the drink of those who think,
and feel no fear nor fetter.
Who do not drink to senseless sink,
but drink to think the better."


Biology has always caught my interest. As a child I was always looking for signs of life under logs, by a river bank, or in the forest. For that reason I earned a Bachelors in Biology and am currently working on a Masters of Science in Biology. I still have that same fascination for biology that I had as a child, particularly when it comes to the microorganisms that make our world possible.

I remember the first beer that I ever had with my dad, Fat Tire. From that moment on I was hooked on craft brewing. However, I could not settle on just drinking great beer, I had to know how it was created. Within a year of that first beer I had bought a brewing kit and delved into brewing.

Everything came together when I had my first beer fermented by something other than Saccharomyces. The tart and funky flavors played on my tongue in such a unique way. I just had to know how this was done. After reading a few blogs and books I decided to try my own sour beer, more on that latter. However, what I really found that day was a way in which to unite my passion for biology and my passion for brewing. I am mystified by everything that goes into making a sour beer, in particular the  microorganism. That is where everything comes together, biology (microbiology) meets brewing.

So that is what I intend for this to be about. A way in which I can chronicle the point at which biology meets brewing. I will write about brewing more traditional styles of beer but I plan to focus on the microbes that go into brewing a sour ale and hopefully help anyone else that is interested in the subject learn a little bit more about the science (and bugs) that can go into brewing. I do want to make it quite clear that I am not expert at brewing or at microbiology. However, I will do that best that I can with the resources that I have to explore Microbe Brewing.