Sending Out Cantillon Iris (2007) Brettanomyces C1

Hello, my yeast mates!

The time has come for another yeast mail out!

This time it’s the Cantillon Iris (2007) Brettanomyces C1 strain.

Some information about this strain:

Ferments relatively fast to around 1.010 after which it slows down to a crawl. In my experience it fermented from 1.052 to 1.001 in 3.5 months resulting in 97% attenuation. It forms a pellicle very quickly. Pellicle is bright white and thick with large bubbles, but after a while it thins out and becomes patchy. The smell and flavor profile based on my experience as well as of those who got it from the October 2012 yeast mail is that it’s a pleasant strain which can be used as the primary strain. One of the people took first place in a competition with a beer that was 100% C1 fermented.

My impressions were as follows: Incredibly sweet smelling, strong fruity smell with apples, pears, mangos, honeydew, lots of honey, elderflowers, just general non-specific flowers and fruits, wood, hay, Bretty funk. Easily one of the best smelling beers I’ve made. Very dry and lightly tart with a hint of lemon. Since Brett thins out the beer and makes hops stand out like mad I’ll have to wait a few more months for an official tasting until the 1oz Callypso bittering hops fade enough for a Saison to not taste like it’s 1000 IBUs.

Other people who tried it and got back to me reported it being generally fruity and lightly tart with mostly apples, pears, lemons, wood and Brett funk.

As before, should your beer turn out horrible or poisonous because of this strain it’s not my fault and you are using it at your own risk. Also by using this strain you agree to give me feedback about it and possibly even send me a bottle of the resulting beer.

There are 23 vials available with around 25 billion cells each. If you get a vial and plan to use it as the primary strain, make sure you pitch at least twice the amount of yeast that you would with normal brewer’s yeast.


Email me at if you’re interested in acquiring a vial. As before, it’s $10 for the shipping and all that other good stuff. If you have some cool and unique strains of yeast or some cool beers, feel free to let me know and we could work out a trade.



I will try to release a strain every month from now on so if you don’t get it this time there will be several other unique strains in the future.

More on Yeast Rehydration

The issue of dry yeast rehydration has been following me around since about the time I first wrote about it. A conversation here and there sparked up, often resulting in lengthy discussions on the topic of water vs wort and temperatures. Some took my suggestions and ideas readily, backed up with some info from a scientist who worked on these, while others were more skeptical. In either case it seems that people who tried rehydration in warm water preferred it to sprinkling straight into wort. The hardest issue for people to understand seems to be the matter of yeast viability. I find it very hard to explain that making a starter with dry yeast is pointless because osmotic pressure would kill a large portion of the initial culture and the time would be simply spent on rebuilding it to its original numbers. It doesn’t seem like it’s a very difficult concept to grasp, but the issue persists. Rather than debating and trying to back it up with simple scientific logic, I decided to conduct a little study to address the questions of temperature as well as sugar and hop compound concentration in dry yeast rehydration.

The original study was supposed to just be a temperature series in water, but right when I was about to start, it occurred to me that repeating the same series with different worts would also be interesting. The experiment consisted of three series:

Water – just plain sterile water.

Starter – a simple standard starter made with 100g DME per liter of water. OG ~1.040.

High OG/IBU – some wort I had saved in my freezer from an IPA I brewed some time ago. OG of 1.068 and 123 IBU.

The idea was to test the concept of temperature and osmotic pressure as well as assess the effects of high hop compound concentration on ensuing yeast viability after rehydration. For that purpose I used a packet of Danstar Nottingham that’s been sitting in my fridge for a while. It’s safe to assume that the viability of that culture is not at its optimum, but it’s what I had on hand and its response should be comparable to that of a fresh pack.

Experimental design was simple and straightforward:

Incubate yeast for 15-20 minutes in each medium at following temperatures: 35C (95F), 32C (89.6F), 25C (77F), 16C (61F) and 4C (39F). Stain with trypan blue and count dead and living cells. For each data point, between 120 and 1500 cells were counted, totaling in around 5000 cells. Let me tell you it wasn’t at all fun. In cases where cell viability was so low that counting would have been a waste of time (see example below), I assigned values of 1 and 5% based on qualitative observation.


An example of a sample with such low viability that counting was useless. Red arrow = dead cell. Green arrow = live cell.

The results were not completely unexpected. As expected, cell viability was much higher in yeast rehydrated in water rather than in wort. As the temperature decreased so did the viability, though more rapidly than I would have expected. This could be attributed to the age of the packet, but getting 85% viability in water suggests that they are still pretty healthy. What’s interesting is that starter wort largely imitates the water curve, but with significantly lower live cell counts, but high OG/IBU wort does not. It seems that in those conditions yeast get killed very quickly in warmer temperatures and they survive better in slightly cooler conditions. At around 17C (63F), which is a normal pitching temperature for most beers, the starter and high OG/IBU wort intersect and are almost the same as the temperature decreases. This suggests that when it comes to sprinkling dry yeast straight into wort it makes no difference if it’s a small or a big beer. Osmotic pressure will kill them just the same.


Final verdict: Warm water is better for rehydrating yeast than cool water, starter or pitching straight into beer.

I suppose the viability curves would be a bit higher if the pack was fresher and they vary a little from batch to batch, so I constructed a theoretical viability curve chart based on these findings, but with an increase of 10-15% so as to not surpass  100% viability and decrease the sudden drop below 30C.


I hope this little study has been helpful to you since some of you have been asking me to do a temperature series for a few months now. I also hope that this cleared up some doubts and concerns that you had regarding yeast rehydration.

Note: Don’t forget to equilibrate the rehydrated yeast prior to pitching into wort as a large temperature differential may kill or mutate a considerable portion of the yeast. Allow the rehydrated yeast to passively cool to temperature of your wort, or add small portions of the wort to the yeast until the temperatures are very close.

As always, comments, discussion, critique are always welcomed.



Homebrew Alley VII Homebrewing Competition

Hey everybody! Remember me? That yeast rancher from Brooklyn, NY? Yes, that one! Well I’m still alive and kicking! I apologize for the long hiatus in posting yeast experiments, but the truth is that I’ve been just too busy in lab. With grants due in a couple days there has been quite a push to come up with ideas and preliminary data to test them. Since the primary aim of this particular grant is my thesis project, I hope you can understand how it takes precedence over brewing and yeast ranching for the time being. Hopefully after submitting it this week things should get back to normal and I’ll no longer slave away until 10-11pm every day and will have time to brew some beers and ranch some yeast. The next yeast experiment is already planned out and will probably be posted in about a week for the benefit of a portion of my readers who have been asking me to do it for some time now. Until that sweet time comes I’ll try to entertain you by telling you how my first homebrew competition since 2011 went.

This year Homebrew Alley had over 700 entries, making it the biggest one yet. I picked it because it was local and there was no need for shipment as long as I paid the entrance fees and dropped the bottles off at the appropriate location. As you probably know, I always refer to competitions as a waste of beer and money because of my previous experiences with oxymoronic comments from judges (like the famous “dry and cloyingly sweet”) as well as just plain wrong statements such as describing Brettanomyces character of beers that have never been touched by Brett. This year I thought I’d give it another try mainly to see what people think of my sour brews. To my surprise, my Berliners ended up taking 1st and 3rd places in the categories entered. Another surprise was the scores for the Witch Poison Gruit. Though it received the lowest score I’ve ever gotten, it was nice to see that the judges accurately identified its characteristics, which they thought to be fermentation flaws, but instead came from the ingredients. To me that shows that this time people judging the beers were competent and didn’t just make things up.

Rather than posting the photos of the score sheets I’ll just give you the text because some of them are written in extremely illegible hand or just cut off mid-sentence.

So, on to the scores!


Not sure why they sent me two 3rd place ribbons.

xxxx = can’t be read without a cryptologist.


Berliner Weisse

Entered in Category 17 A


Judge #1:

Aroma: Moderate sour aroma (both lactic and slight acetic). Moderate leather, hay – nice. Complex. No hops. 9/12

Appearance: Pale yellow. Very slight haze. Pours with very low white head that dissipates immediately. 2/3

Flavor: Aggressive, but not overpowering sourness, mostly lactic. Bone dry. Mild Bretty barnyard flavors. Hints of wheat and honey in background. No hop flavor. 16/20

Mouthfeel: Effervescent, very prickly, no astringency or warmth. 5/5

Overall Impressions: Excellent Berliner. Maybe a little big for the style, but delicious. 8/10

Total: 40/50


Judge #2:

Aroma: Very mild sourness. Mostly lactic. Allows some wheat to shine through too. No hops. Some barnyard xxxx in there too. 8/12

Appearance: Pale golden. Opaque. Very slight white head xxxx energy and fades quickly! 2/3

Flavor: Sharp sourness – very lactic with supporting horsey and barnyardy. No fruit or yeast character evident. 16/20

Mouthfeel: Super light body. Low carbonation level. Dry as heck! No booziness. 2/5

Overall Impression: Undercarbonated for the style. More would have made it livelier. A little more general “funk” than a Berliner typically has. But this is a very tasty Berliner. Should get even better with age. Thanks for entering! 7/10

Total: 35/50


Final Assigned Score: 37.5

Place awarded:  3rd


My thoughts: It’s interesting how two people drinking the same beer differ in carbonation description. It was also a little surprising to see that it’s aggressively sour because I always thought of it as very mild.


Troubadour (Berliner with raspberries)

Entered in Category 20 A


Judge #1:

Aroma: You can smell the sour as it pours. Tartness dominates, followed by a hint of “stinky feet”. Raspberry in the back (very true to life raspberry at that). Slight petrol behind, which is complementary. 10/12

Appearance: Pours with large head that rapidly disperses to film on top, clear, light pink/straw color. 3/3

Flavor: Sour tartness dominates. The raspberry flows behind. Otherwise clean lactic strong. Petrol notes towards end compliment. Some barnyard character as well. 17/20

Mouthfeel: High carbonation, light body, puckering, dries out. 5/5

Overall Impression: A delightful beer. The level of tartness is on the higher end of the spectrum for a Berliner and also has a nice depth. Displaying nice lacto as well as Brett character. This might be intense for some, but I love it. Beautiful job! 9/10

Total: 44/50


Judge #2: actually same person as Judge #1 from Berliner Weisse

Aroma: Strong grainy wheat aromas accompanied by a touch of green apple-like sourness, a touch of acetic acid and a hint of raspberry. Slight phenolic. No hops. 10/12

Appearance: Pours fairly clear. Salmon color with a tall white head that dissipates quickly. 3/3

Flavor: Wheat apparent along with an aggressive sourness (combo lactic and acetic, more lacto). Mild plastic phenolics. Raspberry barely perceptible, but there. Hops not apparent – good. 17/20

Mouthfeel: Medium body (maybe a bit high for the style). Very highly carbed – nice. Mouth puckering, prickly. 4/5

Overall Impression: Very nice Berliner. Could use a touch more raspberry. Maybe a little big for the style. 8/10

Total: 42/50


Final Assigned Score: 43

Place Awarded: 1st


My thoughts: Never expected this! When I brought this brew to a homebrew meeting and people gave it very positive and enthusiastic reviews I thought they were just being nice. I guess this really is a successful combination. Now I just don’t have an excuse to not make this again!


Schismatic Dubbel

Entered in Category 18 B


Judge #1:

Aroma: Raisin, stone fruit, malt sweetness, restrained hop character. Sweet fruity ester character from yeast is very restrained. 9/12

Appearance: Pours with a thick, tan, airy head. Reddish-brown color. Clings to glass very beautifully. 3/3

Flavor: Salted caramel sweetness is dominant. Fruity yeast characteristics are very pleasant and has a strawberry quality to it. Alcohol warming is very noticeable at end (and on breath afterward). Toffee is dominant. 15/20

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium-high carbonation. Initial creamy texture which leads to an alcohol warmth and slightly chewy. 4/5

Overall Impression: Very well executed beer in terms of style. However, alcohol warmth could be toned down just a touch and you may want to experiment with slightly less caramel malts. I really enjoyed this beer. 7/10

Total: 35/50


Judge #2:

Aroma: Big malty nose with some toffee notes and a little clove. 8/12

Appearance: Dark amber color with beige head. Great retention. Fairly clean. 3/3

Flavor: A lot of toffee + caramel. Very malty. Some raisins + phenols. Nicely balanced. Whole lotta toffee! 10/20

Mouthfeel: Medium-full mouth. High carbonation. Creamy. No alcohol warmth. 4/5

Overall Impression: Good example, but it falls a little flat in the end. 6/10

Total: 31/50


Final Assigned Score: 33

Place Awarded: none


My thoughts: This is not bad for a dubbel brewed in 2010 I think! Interesting how they differ in terms of alcohol warmth. Sounds like I should try recreating it.


Witch Poison Gruit

Entered in Category 17 E


Judge #1: Non-BJCP

Aroma: Big smokiness xxxx. Light cooked vegetables. Cabbage aroma. Some baby diaper, tons of diacetyl. Malt aroma – low to none. 3/12

Appearance: Golden. Hazy billowy head. Fizzy like soda. Head disappeared quick. 2/3

Flavor: Sharp sourness with Bxxxx smokiness. Smoke is peat-like with some bacon. Tart. Not a ton of malt. 7/20

Mouthfeel: Med-low boon. No astringent. No alcoholic. Tart. 3/5

Overall Impression: Unfortunately the diacetyl and smoke in this beer make it hard to drink. It is complex, just not the right kind of complexity. 5/10

Total: 20/50


Judge #2:

Aroma: Slight fishy aroma and a xxxx dominant cherry wood smokiness. No hop aroma. 5/12

Appearance: Pours orange-gold with thick head that dissipated almost immediately. Cloudy, but appropriate for style. 2/3

Flavor: Very complex, with smokiness and somewhat unusual fermentation characteristics. Strong lactic tartness, appropriate, but (not sure what happened here. he just cuts off) 8/20

Mouthfeel: Light body and medium carbonation. No alcohol warmth or astringency. Very strong and lingering slickness from lacto and diacetyl. 1/5

Overall Impression: Very strong lactic taste, but not very refreshing. Need to clean up the lactic off flavors (smokiness, fish) and reduce the slickness (probably combination of lacto and diacetyl) 4/10

Total: 20/50


Final Assigned Score: 20

Place Awarded: none


My thoughts: This is the lowest scoring beer I’ve ever had, but despite that I am strangely happy about it. The judges described it pretty accurately, but didn’t know that it’s all not fermentation flaws, but derived from the ingredients themselves. Smokiness, fishiness and bacon are contributed by a huge amount of peated malt. Vegetative character is contributed from the juniper branches, pepper and lemongrass. Slickness is probably from the rye. In any case I agree with them that the vegetal smell isn’t very appealing. It also looks like my suspicions about using rye and darker malts in a no-boil beer is not a good thing. Something in them doesn’t play nice with the bugs. Don’t know what to make of diacetyl as I haven’t noticed it. It probably wasn’t the best idea to enter it is a Gueze, but I just didn’t know where else to stick it. All in all this beer is what it is and they got it pretty much right. Most important thing is that I enjoy it in the summer, and strangely, so does my mother who hates beer.


There you have it. Looks like my Berliners are better than I thought and this gives me more incentive to continue with funky and sour brews.

As I mentioned before, I am still very much alive and intent to keep homebrew funky yeast science going strong. In recent days I’ve been getting more emails asking about the Cantillon Iris isolates as well as whether or not I’ve isolated some new strains. The answer is a definite YES. There will be more Iris strains in upcoming weeks and there will be more unique bugs isolated soon too. Hopefully after this week I’ll be able to get back to it.