Free Brettanomyces!

Well my fellow homebrewers, I need to ask you for help! As I will be moving in a few weeks I simply do not have the time needed to ferment with the Cantillon Yeasts that I isolated to test how they perform. So I need a few brave volunteers to help me out with this task. Over the next 2-3 weeks I’ll be bringing vials of these yeasts to Brooklyn Homebrew for people to pick up and play with. Since I have no idea how these bugs are, I would suggest fermenting a small batch first just to see how they do in case they’re no good so that you’d not have to throw out a batch of your brew. The conditions are as follows: I don’t know how your beer will turn out. Use at your own risk. If your beer turns out horrible and poisonous, don’t blame me and I hold no responsibility. In any case, I would really like if you’d come back here and leave your feedback (or give it in person) with info like what style beer it was, did you ferment straight or mixed with another culture, how long you fermented for, and your overall impressions of that yeast. Pictures are welcome. Even better if you save a bottle for me to try 🙂

Right now what can tell you based on fermenting 5mL samples is this: All 3 strains form pellicles. C1 is funkier than C2 and C3 which smell kind of fruity, like tart apples maybe, with some earthiness but also have the funk. C3 takes longer to form a pellicle, but when it does, it’s very thick and tough. I was literally able to fold it in half with a loop when taking samples for streaking.

I will also bring vials of the Brettanomyces isolated from WYeast Berliner blend in case anyone wants to try and replicate that blend for themselves, though you’d also need the Lactobacillus, which I have, but not working with it currently. In fact I got several strains of Lactobacillus in the fridge and perhaps eventually will give out those as well.

The first strains will be C1 and the WY Berliner Blend Brett, which I’ll bring over this Sunday, May 27, 2012 around 12-1pm. From fermenting the starters I can tell you that the WY strain grows slower, but ferments with a lot more foam. C1 forms pellicle quickly and grows faster. Both of them have the traditional Brett smell, and both are somewhat fruity. WY strain has a sharper smell and taste. The starters were tart in both cases, but since they were constantly aerated for almost a week they all tasted oxidized and just bleh.

For those of your outside NYC (a few people have asked me about it already), yes, I can ship them to you, but give me a little time. Let me know how much and of what you want and I’ll save the vials for you. Once I collect all 4 (or possibly 6 strains) I’ll send them out.

Cheers! Enjoy! And let me know how these yeasts work for you!


Sorry for the crap picture quality. I think I’ll just use my old point-and-shoot camera from now on and just put it next to the objective. Gave me WAY better pictures before.

Smoked Serebrianka American Bitter

As most of you are aware, this year brought us a few new hop varieties. One of these has been kind of brought back from the dead for our brewing pleasure. I’m talking about the Serebrianka hop (literally means “silvery one”) which originally came from Russia a while back and is one of the parents of Cascade. As far as I know it hasn’t really been used much due to difficulty of cultivation, but some growers must have come through last year and for that I am grateful to them. Thanks to the folks at Brooklyn Homebrew, who carry it, it was no problem getting a couple ounces to try it out.

Smoked Serebrianka American Bitter

Date Brewed: 11 Apr 2012

Date Ready: 5 May 2012

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.20 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.1 US gals
Volume Of Finished Beer: 4.8 US gals
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.034 SG
OG: 1.041 SG
FG: 1.011 SG
ABV: 3.9 %
IBU: 30.3 IBU
Mash Efficiency: 79.8 %
Fermentation Temp: 64 degF


Valley 2-Row Malt 5.13 lb

Valley Cherry Smoked Malt 1.88 lb

Valley Chocolate Malt 0.13 lb


US Calypso – 0.50 oz – Loose Pellet Hops – 60 Min From End

Serebrianka – 1.00 oz – Loose Whole Hops – 10 Min From End

Serebrianka – 1.00 oz – Loose Whole Hops – 1 Min From End


DCL US-05 (formerly US-56) SafAle

Water Profile

Total Calcium (ppm): 21

Total Sodium (ppm): 21
Total Chloride(ppm): 32
Total Bicarbonate (ppm): 32

Mash Schedule

Single Step Infusion (66C/151F) w/Mash Out

Packaging Notes
Wow! Very smoky at kegging!

Appearance: Bright golden-copper and crystal clear. The head that quickly recedes, but remains as a thick ring around the beer.

Aroma: Smooth but firm smoke. Metallic. Sweet malt. Earthy, gently herbal and woody hops. Smells like a light session beer.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and light. Medium-low carbonation.

Taste: Gentle earthy and herbal hops upfront, followed by malt and a smoke. Just a hint of metal. Soft bitterness in the end, which persists throughout the medium and malty finish. Medium-low carbonation helps bring out more maltiness.

*NOTE: For some reason I perceive smoked beers as somewhat metallic or minerally with some smokiness. Even the smokiest commercial examples that my friends don’t want to touch taste metallic with just a hint of smoke to me. I enjoy it though and find it quite refreshing. This has probably something to do with genetics because there are other things I perceive differently from most of the other people too.

Overall: Seems like a pretty solid session beer which you can drink several pints of and still enjoy some good flavors. Not much in terms of big flavors and complexity, but what can you expect anyway from such a little guy. Overall I’m quite happy with it.


Now the main reason for brewing this was to test out the Serebrianka hop. I must say I really like it. To me it seems like something between EKG and Fuggle, leaning toward Fuggle. It’s earthy, woody, spicy and slightly herbal, but also has that delicate quality with perhaps a hint of citrus. Hopefully I’ll run out of hops by the end of the summer (going to have to brew a ton of IPAs to do that) and then will gladly purchase a pound of this herb. Try it out if you get the chance, guys!

Witch Poison Wild Gruit

In anticipation of the big move about a month from now, I decided that the time has come to bottle some brews and start stashing them away in various storage facilities so that we don’t need to worry about them during the move itself. The first one to get bottled is a black peppercorn, juniper, and lemongrass gruit made over a year ago. This is a really interesting brew in terms of how it changed and developed over its 13 month life thus far. It appeared shortly after I made 15 gallons of Berliner Weisse and was inspired by the no boil technique used. However unlike the Berliner, which tasted quite pleasant right off the bat, this one was so amazingly horrible that I had to dump the first 15 gallons of its predecessor down the drain. Afterwards, I changed the recipe a bit thinking it was Rye’s fault, but alas the taste and smell were that of an outhouse. It is still a mystery to me how I didn’t dump this batch as well. Perhaps I was too lazy to do it, or perhaps I wanted to let it age and see how it turns out, or both. Regardless of the motive, I’m glad I let it live.

For about the first 4-6 months I tasted it about once a month and it remained smelling and tasting like a mix of feces and rotting rats, but gradually became more and more sour and eventually I just stopped tasting it and forgot about it. At approximately 8 months I decided to give it one more taste just in case it got better and was blown away by the improvement. Most importantly the horrible smell and taste were greatly diminished allowing a lot of other flavors to come through. At the time I bottled it, the horrible taste was all but gone, and it smelled of dried peas, dead vegetation, minimal acetic hint, funk and just a lot of stuff. Should be interesting to see how it progresses with bottle aging. I’ll do an official tasting some time in the summer I guess.


Witch Poison Wild Gruit

Date Brewed: 25 Apr 2011

Date Packaged: 11 May 2012

Wort Volume Before Boil: 15.00 US gals

Target Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG

Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: Didn’t bother measuring. I assume it was 1.041

FG: 1.003

Fermentation Temp: ambient. Fluctuating between mid 60s to high 70s throughout the year.



Benchwood Smoked Malt: 7.00 lb

Peat Smoked Malt: 2.00 lb

US 6-Row Malt: 5.00 lb

US 2-Row Malt: 4.00 lb

US Rye Malt: 1.50 lb

CaraRed: 1.50 lb

Brown Malt: 1.50 lb


Water Profile

Total Calcium (ppm): 120

Total Sodium (ppm): 46

Total Sulfate (ppm): 147

Total Chloride (ppm): 16

Total Bicarbonate (ppm): 190


Mash Schedule

Single Decoction (55-66C/131-151F) w/Mash Out


Mash Notes

100 g of juniper boiled for 30 min with decoction. 10g of black peppercorns + 25g juniper at 10 min.

7# Benchwood Smoked Malt + 2# Peat Smoked Malt.

The whole apartment smells like bacon!


Boil Notes

No boil


Fermentation Notes

Ferment with Dry Bread Yeast with addition of Lambic Blend and Roeselare Blend from WYeast after the fermentation was done. Split into 3 parts after about a month in the original 15 gal vessel. One I gave to one guy and I don’t know what’s up with it. Other ~9 gallons are with me. Dry hopped with lemongrass for about 9-10 months. Hahahaha not sure how that came to be, but yeah.


Packaging Notes

Bottled on May 11, 2012 with 7.8 oz of table sugar per 5 gal.

Old Doctoral Barleywine

With the academic year over and the last of the core courses behind my back, I decided it was finally time to brew something I wanted to for over a year now. That something is a Barleywine or an Old Ale to age until I defend.

It took a while to think about how to best approach doing it. What recipes do people normally follow? What brewing techniques do they utilize to make it special? Talk to people who’ve done them before and what they recommend. In the end I settled for a basic “ton of base and some crystal” approach but also decided to add chocolate malt to it because I wanted to darken it up and there is a lot of it lying around the apartment thanks to the Malt of the Month Club from Valley Malt. Rather than making an aggressive American Barleywine with 100+ IBUs, I went with an English tradition and crossed it with an Old Ale for a really sticky, thick and malty brew. So here it is!

Old Doctoral Barleywine

Date Brewed: 28 Apr 2012

Volume After Boil: 5.2-5.3 US gals

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.074 SG

OG: 1.122 SG


Maris Otter – 20.00 lb

US Caramel 60L Malt – 1.00 lb

Valley Chocolate Malt – 1.00 lb – Added in last 20 minutes of the mash

Extract – Light Dried Malt Extract – 1.00 lb – 90 Min From End


US Chinook Pellets – 2.00 oz – 90 Min From End

US Willamette Pellets – 2.00 oz – 15 Min From End

Other Ingredients

Maltodextrine – 3.00 oz – In Boil

WYeast Yeast Nutrient – as recommended by the company


DCL US-05 (formerly US-56) SafAle – Cake from a 1.041 Smoked Serebrianka American Bitter

Water Profile

Mash pH: 5.2

pH Adjusted with: Five Star 5.2

Total Calcium (ppm): 106

Total Sodium (ppm): 52

Total Chloride (ppm): 80

Total Bicarbonate (ppm): 158

Mash Schedule

Single Step Infusion (68C/154F) w/Mash-Out

Boil Notes

2 hour boil.

Take a gallon and boil it separately until it’s a pint, then pour into the main kettle in the end. The resulting liquid was very thick and tasted like liquid malt extract, which it actually is. Reminded me of the old extract days.

Fermentation Notes

Bubbled oxygen for 2 minutes.

Fermented for a week at ~62-64. Gravity at 1 week is 1.046 with tons of yeast swirling around the fermenter. Letting it sit at room temperature (~70) for 2-3 weeks more to finish up. No blowoff, no exploding fermenters, nothing like that. It’s actually a little anticlimactic. You always see and hear about people’s RIS explosions and this monstrosity didn’t even have any blow off… On the bright side, this means there will be more beer in the end!


After 3 months in primary the brew was racked off into secondary. Gravity reading was at 1.033 and tasted just incredible.