Capturing a Wild Yeast Strain: Update April 13

Yeast has dropped out of the solution.

I finally got around to fermenting a small 1/2 gallon batch of beer with this “unknown lime yeast”. It appears to be done with fermentation. All visual activity has ceased for the most part all the yeast have now flocced (dropped out of suspension in the liquid), to the bottom of the vessel. I did have to dump it as the taste was …how can I say this…awful! But the fact remains that you CAN get a viable,healthy yeast from the skins of fruit. This particular strain fermented quite well, beside the fact that it did taste like a rotting corpse’s foot. It brought the original gravity of this batch down from 1.053 to a final gravity of 1.012!  I’ve had commercial yeast strains struggle to do that before. The sample even dropped relatively clear considering the fact that I’ve heard that wild yeast have a hard time clearing, and they have a reputation for not fully completing fermentation.  By my estimate, this yeast was a pretty good strain as far as fermentation properties are concerned as this batch of beer was about 5.3% alcohol  by volume!

Lime skin yeast may have not been the best for fermenting yeast, taste-wise, but I’d bet on something sweeter to go quite well. Maybe a cherry,mango,watermelon, peach, or apples might have been a little more palatable. But about the taste, It tasted a little cider-like and definitely had a “funk” unlike anything i have ever tasted before. One thing that perplexed me was the fact that is was not sour. That tells me that I think it was, (at very least), mostly Saccharomyces (yeast) and no lacto bacteria, which makes lactic acid and will tend to taste tangy/sour. (think sourdough). It also showed signs of “fusel alcohols”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusel_alcohol. This is a sign of a high fermentation temp, but it could also be a trait of the strain of yeast. Even though it was only about 5.3%, it tasted like a shot of high octane stuff. Definitely an alcoholic taste, sorta like drinking VERY cheap wine.  But,to be a fair taste test, to judge the sample warm and uncarbonated, and without a little aging may have been a little jumpy. Sometimes fusel alcohols calm down with a little aging. If you have brewed for a while, like any good trained chef will tell you…you should taste EVERYTHING! In brewing if you don’t taste your brew at every step you may not know the normal from the abnormal, but more on that later. The fact that it tasted the way it did just did not seem like it would mellow out in any way as much as it would need to.

Clear sample of fermented beer.

However the point stands that if you care to experiment with fermentation, this is a great way to understand more about the process. Take my earlier entry about making a starter wort from a little base malt , and you may have about $2.00 vested in this experiment. It would seem that its more time than money…if you’re patient. If you are looking to have a brew that stands out, this a great place to start. The way I see it, you will have a strain of yeast that no-one will have. With that, comes very unique flavors and in turn a very different beer as a result. Keep in mind that this is crap shoot. It will take some experimentation to find a suitable yeast for beer brewing. If our beer brewing fore fathers did it, you could too. It will just take some time. But the reward for your patience and time could be the most different beer anyone has ever tasted! Imagine the possibilities!

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