Tag Archives: wild yeast


I’ve been interested in adding fruit to my brewing, but with only one fermenter, I can’t commit to a long aging period. This has focused my attention into quicker fruiting methods, such as using pomegranate molasses. While at the Cambridge Beer Festival, I had a beer spiked with beet root, which got me thinking about vegetables in beer. Around the same time I spotted some vibrant stalks of rhubarb at the market and happened to come across this recipe for rhubarb syrup. I couldn’t ask for a more appealing confluence of inspirations – I had to seek out this tart vegetable to try brewing with it.

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Dried krausen caked onto a barrel at Cantillon.

Dried krausen caked onto a barrel at Cantillon.

Something strange brews in the Senne valley. In the cooler months, brewers open the shutters of their breweries and welcome in whatever is borne on the breeze. Foaming wort bursts forth from old oak casks, spilling over the cobwebs networked between barrels. Some of the beer has been aging here for three years. The master brewer takes stock of each vintage and blends them together into a final concoction that springs to life once more in the bottle. Lambic and gueuze are the defining drinks of Brussels and Brabant, and this small patch of earth is the only place in the world where it can be brewed. Continue reading

Starting with Sourdough


My sourdough culture, Tom Crumb. Naming your culture is a tradition among sourdough bakers. Having met the four Tom’s in my research group, I  felt like I needed a fifth.

As I mentioned in my post on steak and ale pie, my lack of brewing has left me more restless than usual for culinary challenge and adventure. While I was brewing, my interest in fermented foods expanded, but I kept pushing projects like kimchee, yogurt, and sourdough to the back of my mind. A fellow homebrewer offered me a kombucha mother and I let the opportunity slip away during the holidays. No more! I’ve grown a sourdough starter, and I’m not looking back.

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Tasting: Peanut Porter

I had high aspirations with this beer. From my reading it seemed like although it could be difficult to get a definite peanut butter flavor, many people had found success. I approached this brew with confidence from my success with my experience adding pomegranate to a saison, and opted for the higher end of the amount of peanut butter that other brewers had successfully used. However, somewhere along the line, either with the peanut butter or the cacao nibs or with my sanitation, something seems to have gone wrong.

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Summertime & Fruit Flies

There isn’t much brewing going on right now because I’d like to avoid moving a carboy full of fermenting beer into a new apartment, but last month I brewed through two very quick batches which has meant plenty of bottling has been happening. Around the time I was bottling Colleen’s brew, we had an outbreak of fruit flies in the apartment. They happily buzzed about my fermenter, safely kept at bay by the airlock. However, I couldn’t be so sure that they wouldn’t venture a dive into the defenseless bottling bucket.

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Fermentation: Berliner Weisse

I haven’t made a post solely dedicated to a fermenting beer since my very first brew. I’ve learned a lot about brewing since then and gotten much more comfortable brewing. I feel that the Schnellweiße marks a major milestone for me in my brewing experience – it is my first sour beer, partially fermented with a bacteria called Lactobacillus that I grew in a starter inoculated with just a handful of grains.

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Homebrewing has exposed me to styles of beer and methods of brewing that I would not have even suspected of existing. Just before I started brewing, my sister and brother-in-law took me to New Belgium for a tour and tasting. During the tour, I tried and enjoyed my first sour beer. The flavor was totally outside of what I thought was possible with beer. (Interesting note – my brother-in-law, Adam Valuckas, made a short film for their release party of the 2013 La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek, both sours.)

While reading another brewing blog, Brew Science, I came across a post detailing a beer that was low alcohol, citrusy, tart, and has champagne-like carbonation: the Berliner Weisse. It sounded like a beer that would be especially well-suited to summer, but it can require significant time to age. Some brewers report going from grain to glass in as little as a month, while for some as much as 6 months of aging is required for the beer to develop.

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