This page summarises my blog posts about the MegaBlend which started on 12 November 2017 at the London BrewCon. There were 20 contributions to the MegaBlend; a mixture of wild cultures, house cultures and bottle dregs. Brewlab took these away, screened them, propagated the blend and distributed it around the world. Brewlab did this all free of charge so it was an amazing effort by them.
Brewlab provided information on each sample via the following link, which I have summarised below. As I gather more detail on what went in to the MegaBlend I will record it here.
|A||Funk Weapon #2||https://bootlegbiology.com/product/funk-weapon-2/
“This rare, and commercially unavailable yeast isolate is perfect for 100% Brettanomyces fermentations…”
|C||Jon Moore mixed dregs Boon Geuze and Wild Beer Sour Dough||http://www.boon.be/en/content/oude-geuze-boon
Hobbs house bakery 58 year old sour dough culture and Brettanomyces
|D||Ginger Beer Plan and Lemon Saison Matt Ken (Acetic?)||Orval dregs and ginger beer plant scoby / pellicle|
|E||Not Morpheus M Ken||Alvine bottling yeast. Not https://acbf.be/going-to-the-festival/|
|F||Ginger Beer Plant and Lemon Saison Matt Ken (Acetic?)||Orval dregs and ginger beer plant scoby / pellicle|
|G||Primitive Dregs, Wild Capture||Primitive dregs was a blend of wild captured yeast on birch sap, house brett culture and whitelabs lambic blend. Wild Capture was some wild capture yeast from rosemary flowers.|
|I||Unlabelled Plastic Test Tube with Orange Lid Beavertown Wine Yeast||Probably from Forty Hall Vineyard. http://www.beavertownbrewery.co.uk/beer/brose/|
|J||Tex Bic and As||?|
|K||Not Morpheus! M Ken||Alvine bottling yeast. Not https://acbf.be/going-to-the-festival/|
|L||Passion Fruit Lambic||?|
|M||Kat Sewell SpontanPeckham||https://haveigotbrewsforyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/spontanpeckham/|
|N||Sacch Trois, Brett Clausenii, M Piska||https://www.whitelabs.com/yeast-bank/wlp644-saccharomyces-bruxellensis-trois
a potential indicator of Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastatic which has the ability to utilize some dextrins
|O||Mixed culture. Neil’s Mix||?|
|P||Urban Farmhouse Lacto Pedio Ts Acch 4th Gen||House culture started out as Urban Farmhouse’s house culture: Sacch (a saison strain) and lactobacillus plantarum. Another lacto P strain and Pediococcus Pentosaceus added. The Pedio is non-diacetyl producing and not ropie with over 10 pitches of it.|
|R||Funkyflowerbeer Blend 1: Gorse, Blackthorn, Garden Apple I, Wild Apple, Primrose and Dandelion.|
|S||Funkyflowerbeer Blend 2: Garden Apple II, Broom, Hawthorn and Rowan. Produces ethyl acetate when exposed to oxygen|
|T||Bruxellensis Reserva Barrel Aged local Brett pale ale||Brettanomyces Bruxellensis?|
|U||Cuvée De Ranke 70% Belgian sour ale with 30% lambic||A blend of pale ale fermented with Rodenbach yeast and lambic|
So in summary the MegaBlend should contain the following:
- Various saccharomyces strains including Orval, Alvine bottling yeast, wine yeast, various saison strains, Rodenbach and other Belgian varieties. Also Saccharomyces Bruxellensis trois.
- Various Brettanomyces strains including Brettanomyces Clausenii, Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and a rare strain.
- Various wild yeasts
- Lambic culture (saccharomyces, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, pediococcus)
- Sourdough culture (various yeast and bacteria)
- ginger beer plant scoby (various yeast and bacteria)
- Various lactobacillus including plantarum
- Various pediococcus including pentosaceus
At the BrewCon Brewlab put my Blend 1 and Blend 2 under the microscope so I was able to see the wild yeast and bacteria in the samples. Good to have confirmation that they’re there!
Brewlab produced the following reports.
Report 1: https://t.co/m6w7ErzuJE
Report 2: https://t.co/DRGd5VWnGP
The first report found that there is a range of yeast and bacteria in the MegaBlend. Some of the yeast was more viable than others. The bacteria included lacticobacilli, streptococci and other rod and cocci. The second report confirmed the presence of the glucoamylase gene STA1 which means that dextrins can be digested by the enzyme, so the MegaBlend will likely ferment wort down to 1.004 gravity or lower.
I made my first brew with the culture on 10 March 2018 and Emma Inch, a journalist and home brewer who had taken an interest in the project, came round to see what I was doing. It was really nice to meet Emma though and I look forward to reading her article. She’s also spoken to a few other people involved in the MegaBlend. I’ll include a link here once it’s published.
I had made a starter for the MegaBlend to ensure it was vigorous. Alison from Brewlab had told us that each bottle was big enough for 20 litres so cell count should have been fine. The aromatics coming off the starter were really appealing: there was an acetic acidity and depth of funk. Possibly wrongly, I didn’t pour away the starter liquid, mainly because the yeast was still active in suspension and also because the aromatics were so good.
For the MegaBlend culture I wanted to brew a pale farmhouse with some complex fermentables from unmalted grains and some extra body and mouth feel from rolled oats. Call it misplaced nostalgia but I also wanted a varied grain bill to add some preindustrial complexity and a sense of making do with what was available. I’ve kept the hopping rate low and added them early to encourage bacteria and to keep the flavour muted. The recipe is below:
OG:1.055 ABV:6.6% SRM: 7 IBU: 8
67% Maris Otter
10% Wheat Malt
10% Spelt Malt
8% Flaked Oats
5% Flaked Wheat
Mixed Bushel of Hops Heritage hops at 60mins and flame out
60min mash at 69deg C
Within 24 hours the airlock was very active and I opened the window to keep the room temperature below 20 deg C. After a few days the airlock had slowed to a regular bubble.
Some people have opted to pitch additional saccharomyces or pitch the MegaBlend into the secondary. I haven’t done this, wanting to purely use the MegaBlend. If it turns out to be too sour then I might blend it with a clean saison.
I will leave it in primary until the activity has stopped. Probably 3-6 months. I would then like to reuse the yeast on a darker beer. I will probably split this pale batch and put some on to fruit, some dry hop and some dry herb.
I’ll add more to this page as the project develops…..