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Cultivating/Brewing with Wild Yeast

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#1 SteveMillerTime

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:35 AM

So I've been thinking and thinking about making a beer with yeast cultivated straight from dirty jersey.My plan is to cultivate some wild yeast this spring and make a nice refreshing spring time beer...probably some sort of wheat ale. If the honey suckle in my yard is grown by then I'll do some sort of honey suckle wheat.But anywho, I've been reading up on how to capture wild yeast and it seems the two most popular methods are:
  • Peeling a fruit and dropping the skins into some sort of fermentable sugar mix (agar-agar, DME, apple juice, etc...) and basically make a yeast starter. Then once you start getting fermentation, pour the mixture into another vessel (flask) with more nutrients (leaving the skin behind) and get ready to pitch it into your beer.
  • The other method I've read about is making a DME mixture and setting it on a window for 2 weeks (not a day longer) and try pulling the yeast from that in a similar fashion as the previous method.
Personally I like the fruit skin idea. Perhaps that'll even produce a slight flavor of the fruit (doubt much)? So what do you guys think about cultivating wild yeast for a brew?
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#2 SteveMillerTime

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:38 AM

weird...apparently i double posted this one...oh well, the mods'll get it.
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#3 denny

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:43 AM

I know of several people who have tried it, but I only know of one person who's really been successful with it. He was a microbiologist, but I don't know if there was anything special about what he did compared to everyone else. He used something along the lines of the second approach.
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#4 armagh

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:06 PM

I once tried the first method. I failed miserably. YMMV.
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#5 SteveMillerTime

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:42 PM

it definitely seems like something that'd take practice...i might try it at 1 gallon intervals
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#6 brewman

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:45 PM

it definitely seems like something that'd take practice...i might try it at 1 gallon intervals

This seems the way to go until you can get a good yeast population going.Dan
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#7 Mando

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:47 PM

I know of several people who have tried it, but I only know of one person who's really been successful with it. He was a microbiologist, but I don't know if there was anything special about what he did compared to everyone else. He used something along the lines of the second approach.

did he have a means to determine what he had growing or be somewhat selective?
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#8 denny

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:05 PM

did he have a means to determine what he had growing or be somewhat selective?

Ya know, I think he did finally analyze what he ended up with. IIRC, the beer was pretty good. He's a commercial brewer now, but I'll try to contact him to see what he recalls.
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#9 ChefLamont

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:52 PM

I have thought about trying to culture yeast off of apples grown in N. Georgia on a plate and then selectively try to culture them up and ferment very small (~quart) batches of cider and see what I get. If it smells like a Jr. High locker room, I am out a quart of juice. I know first-hand strangebrewer did a spontaneous cider fermentation that turned out awesomely. I dont know of anyone that has done it beer-side.I suppose the same could be done for beer in a more controlled manner.
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#10 Mando

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 03:41 PM

I have thought about trying to culture yeast off of apples grown in N. Georgia on a plate and then selectively try to culture them up and ferment very small (~quart) batches of cider and see what I get. If it smells like a Jr. High locker room, I am out a quart of juice. I know first-hand strangebrewer did a spontaneous cider fermentation that turned out awesomely. I dont know of anyone that has done it beer-side.I suppose the same could be done for beer in a more controlled manner.

why not just let some unpasteurized cider ferment naturally? why try to build up anything? the juice is already set to go!
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#11 Genesee Ted

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 03:54 PM

I think the best way to do this is to to do some swabs on agar and then look a the colonies from there in a microscope to see if you get some sac cerv. Once you get a few isolated colonies, prop them up and do some tiny batches to see what works and what doesn't.

#12 ChefLamont

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:11 AM

I think the best way to do this is to to do some swabs on agar and then look a the colonies from there in a microscope to see if you get some sac cerv. Once you get a few isolated colonies, prop them up and do some tiny batches to see what works and what doesn't.

This was the plan. I have everything I need......except time.
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#13 ChefLamont

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:14 AM

why not just let some unpasteurized cider ferment naturally? why try to build up anything? the juice is already set to go!

I have thought about this too, but the only thing this method lacks is the isolation. Sure, having a combination of yeast is probably part of the complex magic, but it makes it dang near irreproducible unless you just save and maintain a slurry. I guess i was thinking or hoping to get a "georgia yeast" that could be saved and reused.
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#14 SteveMillerTime

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:07 AM

Ya know, I think he did finally analyze what he ended up with. IIRC, the beer was pretty good. He's a commercial brewer now, but I'll try to contact him to see what he recalls.

Yea, I'd be curious how he was able to determine the yeast, sounds interesting. I really wish I took microbiology in highschool...if I had the time/money/patience I'd take a few courses at my community college. I might try contacting one of my highschool science teachers (he taught chem and micro bio) and see if he'd be willing to help out...and maybe get us some publicity ;)
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#15 ChefLamont

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:31 AM

I never took any formal training, but I do an ok job at the micro end of this. I need to get more up to speed on the microscope work than anything. I think it is more about learning some good techniques and what you are looking for than taking a full class that would be more than you would ever need to know in a practical application.
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#16 MtnBrewer

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:03 AM

I have thought about this too, but the only thing this method lacks is the isolation. Sure, having a combination of yeast is probably part of the complex magic, but it makes it dang near irreproducible unless you just save and maintain a slurry. I guess i was thinking or hoping to get a "georgia yeast" that could be saved and reused.

Have you seen the latest Zymurgy? It has an article about a guy who lives in Ga who wanted to make a 100% local beer. Local grain, local hops and local yeast. So he set about trying to capture some wild yeast. I haven't read the article yet so I don't know exactly what he did but whatever he did, I think you could probably do the same thing.

#17 SteveMillerTime

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:19 AM

Have you seen the latest Zymurgy? It has an article about a guy who lives in Ga who wanted to make a 100% local beer. Local grain, local hops and local yeast. So he set about trying to capture some wild yeast. I haven't read the article yet so I don't know exactly what he did but whatever he did, I think you could probably do the same thing.

Are you talking about the more recent article, about the brewer in south carolina (i think)? He actually ended up going to NC for grains and worked with the maltsters there to get an interestingly modified 6-row malt since apparently 2-row doesn't do too well in NC climate. As for the yeast, he didn't get to cultivate, instead he re-used yeast from another brewery, apparently its something like a community yeast. Basically one brewer buys it, uses it, sells to another brewer, who uses it and they keep passing it down like that...at least that's how i remember reading it.
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#18 MtnBrewer

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:25 AM

Are you talking about the more recent article, about the brewer in south carolina (i think)? He actually ended up going to NC for grains and worked with the maltsters there to get an interestingly modified 6-row malt since apparently 2-row doesn't do too well in NC climate. As for the yeast, he didn't get to cultivate, instead he re-used yeast from another brewery, apparently its something like a community yeast. Basically one brewer buys it, uses it, sells to another brewer, who uses it and they keep passing it down like that...at least that's how i remember reading it.

Since I haven't read it, I don't know what I'm talking about. :D I thought the guy was in GA.

#19 ChefLamont

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:42 AM

No. Come to think of it, I signed up for my AHA membership (or at least I think I did) but haven't seen a zymurgy in a while. I will have to check on that.
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#20 JMcG

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:30 PM

I think the best way to do this is to to do some swabs on agar and then look a the colonies from there in a microscope to see if you get some sac cerv. Once you get a few isolated colonies, prop them up and do some tiny batches to see what works and what doesn't.

Just looking under the scope it is very difficult to tell if you have Brett or Sacc, the shapes are very similar.It is easy to tell if you have a bacteria due to different size (much smaller).Best way to ID is with "differential media" (unless you have access to some pretty sophisticated genetic equipment), where special chemicals or nutrients are included to select, promote or signal the presence of a particular organism.These are/can be specific for particular bugs or yeast.
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