Author Topic: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)  (Read 7968 times)

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2011, 04:27:30 PM »
Yep, it's a scientific term. ;)  It's based on an old cartoon, because it's sort of what the yeast look like when they start to grow toward the other cell.



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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2011, 09:26:17 PM »
Microbiologists are AWESOME! Okay yes is seems like a type A and a type Alpha is waiting for a type Gerbil and a type lemon Popsicle. I have often suspected quantum physicists of partaking of their chemist friends best stuff, I suppose a good microbiologist doesn't even need help.
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2011, 12:35:00 PM »
Brett is native to many fruit skins - maybe not all fruit, and maybe not as populous as other strains, but still present.  It would be fairly easy to isolate a single strain, you can just plate it and streak for singles.  The trick to me is how to tell brett from sacch using things your average homebrewer has access to.

Growth rates? Flavor of finished beer?

How are you differentiating between S. bayanus/cerevisiae found on the fruit skins and "wild" yeast?

You're right, it's perfectly possible to have a "wild" variant of S. bayanus/cerevisiae which won't behave well when fermenting beer. I was thinking of other genera of yeasts that don't work well for any fermented beverage.

So where did a brewery get it's yeast back in 1850 or so? Did they just use wild yeast over and over again for a few hundred years until it mutated into something that made good beer?

Tom is basically correct, but by 1700, the large brewers had a pretty keen idea of how yeast worked and how to culture it, although they still didn't know precisely what it was. (That would have to wait until 1876 when Louis Pasteur published "Etudes sur la Bière.") In addition to the methods Tom has mentioned, breweries often borrowed yeast cultures from each other. House breweries often used bread yeast for beer and vice-versa, so homebrewers could get yeast from their local baker.

By the middle of the 19th century, the big breweries also had elaborate "clarifying" systems which could also be used to harvest yeast, such as Yorkshire Squares or Burton Unions. To some extent, yeast strains were influenced by this equipment.

Brewing using pure strains of yeast in brewing dates to 1883 when when Emil Hannsen figured out how to isolate individual yeast strains. Despite this, many brewers continued to use blends of different yeast strains (including Brett strains!) until the 1950s.

Way too much beer history here:

  http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/

here:

  http://zythophile.wordpress.com/

and here:

  http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/

Offline thirsty

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2011, 01:04:08 PM »
Thanks! Been to barclay perkins many times but the other two are new to me.

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2011, 02:12:27 PM »
Thanks! Been to barclay perkins many times but the other two are new to me.

Martyn Cornell (Zythophile) has also written a couple of very good books. "Amber, Gold and Black" is a nice, concise and up to date history of British brewing.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2011, 02:40:55 PM »
Brett is native to many fruit skins - maybe not all fruit, and maybe not as populous as other strains, but still present.  It would be fairly easy to isolate a single strain, you can just plate it and streak for singles.  The trick to me is how to tell brett from sacch using things your average homebrewer has access to.

Growth rates? Flavor of finished beer?
Informative, but not definitive.  And that's (potentially) a lot of test ferments. :)  But it would probably work, and you'd want to do test ferments of whatever you were isolating anyway.

So where did a brewery get it's yeast back in 1850 or so? Did they just use wild yeast over and over again for a few hundred years until it mutated into something that made good beer?

Tom is basically correct, but by 1700, the large brewers had a pretty keen idea of how yeast worked and how to culture it, although they still didn't know precisely what it was. (That would have to wait until 1876 when Louis Pasteur published "Etudes sur la Bière.") In addition to the methods Tom has mentioned, breweries often borrowed yeast cultures from each other. House breweries often used bread yeast for beer and vice-versa, so homebrewers could get yeast from their local baker.
I think it was more likely that the bakers were getting yeast from the brewers - they cook theirs to death, we dump ours down the drain. ;D

Many breweries still share yeast, at least around here.  Of course the smart ones only borrow yeast from brewers they trust. ;)  But there are a bunch of local brewers who brew for the Seattle Belgianfest, so someone buys a pitch of Ardennes (for this year anyway) and shares it afterward with other brewers so they can do their batches.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2011, 11:22:21 PM »
I think it was more likely that the bakers were getting yeast from the brewers - they cook theirs to death, we dump ours down the drain. ;D

You're thinking like a modern person. In the bad old days, there wasn't refrigeration or preservatives, so bakers had to bake every day and they weren't as picky about sanitation as we are, since nobody knew about germ theory. Bakeries might have made sure things were clean, but they wouldn't have sanitized, and they might well have made a point of keeping some yeast "starter" around, if only in the form of dough left out to rise overnight. By contrast, small household brewers might have brewed once a week at most.

But, I'd guess the bigger pub breweries, and small industrial "artisanal" breweries which arose by the end of the Middle Ages probably didn't bother the bakers. Instead, they would have borrowed yeast from another brewery in town if their "house" yeast went bad. Given that there were multiple breweries in any decent-sized town, it couldn't have been too hard.

Reading some of the historical brewing books from the 17th & 18th centuries, I'm impressed by how keenly some authors understood the brewing process, even though they didn't have the science or the tools that we have today.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2011, 12:05:44 AM »
Well, I AM a modern person. :)

I agree, your starter dough makes a lot of sense.  But the amount of yeast needed to brew a batch of beer would be quite a bit more than one loaf of bread's worth.  I would think a brewery would only get yeast from a baker as an absolute last resort, and they'd have to pay for it.  On the other hand, brewing "once a week at most" sounds like perfect timing for re-using the yeast from a previous batch.  So to me, borrowing from a brewery still makes a lot more sense than borrowing from a baker.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2011, 05:35:29 AM »
Most of the mating I have done was the result of a lot of schmooing.......

I'm sorry.....I'll go back in my corner now. ;D
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2011, 01:16:25 PM »
I agree, your starter dough makes a lot of sense.  But the amount of yeast needed to brew a batch of beer would be quite a bit more than one loaf of bread's worth.  I would think a brewery would only get yeast from a baker as an absolute last resort, and they'd have to pay for it.

We're assuming that homebrewers knew enough to pitch sufficient yeast. The situation I'm thinking of would be Dark Ages or Middle Ages homebrewing, possibly with some beer sold on the side. In those cases, the brewer was either a housewife who made her own bread or who traded favors with the local baker (yeast starter for beer), or a servant of a larger household where there might be an attached bakehouse. Those are the folks who mostly got driven out of the trade later in the Middle Ages when brewing got industrialized.

Certainly, there were towns where there were communal breweries, and households took turns brewing beer for their own consumption. In that case, it would make a lot of sense to borrow yeast from another brewer (like the people who used the brew house two weeks before).

Of course, we're talking about 1,000+ years of history and dozens of cultures, so anything is possible. It could have happened either way. Sadly, there's very little surviving information about exact brewing ingredients and techniques from much before 1700.

Offline hokerer

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2011, 01:22:22 PM »
In those cases, the brewer was either a housewife who made her own bread or who traded favors with the local baker (yeast starter for beer),

Interesting phrasing :)
Joe

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2011, 02:24:12 PM »
In those cases, the brewer was either a housewife who made her own bread or who traded favors with the local baker (yeast starter for beer),

Interesting phrasing :)
;D

I agree, your starter dough makes a lot of sense.  But the amount of yeast needed to brew a batch of beer would be quite a bit more than one loaf of bread's worth.  I would think a brewery would only get yeast from a baker as an absolute last resort, and they'd have to pay for it.

We're assuming that homebrewers knew enough to pitch sufficient yeast. The situation I'm thinking of would be Dark Ages or Middle Ages homebrewing, possibly with some beer sold on the side. In those cases, the brewer was either a housewife who made her own bread or who traded favors with the local baker (yeast starter for beer), or a servant of a larger household where there might be an attached bakehouse. Those are the folks who mostly got driven out of the trade later in the Middle Ages when brewing got industrialized.
I am confident that at least some of them knew exactly how to brew the best beer possible with the ingredients they had.  I'm sure some were better than others. :)

Of course, we're talking about 1,000+ years of history and dozens of cultures, so anything is possible. It could have happened either way. Sadly, there's very little surviving information about exact brewing ingredients and techniques from much before 1700.
I'm sure it happened both ways depending on the time period and location we're talking about. ;)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline tubercle

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2011, 03:10:46 PM »
The Egyptians and Sumerians used "bread" yeast. They would just throw some bread in the wort to get it going. I'm sure the baking killed the yeast so it must have been some that had settled on the loaf while it was sitting around.

 Of course they didn't know what was going on until that man came along and figured it out.

 I believe his name was AnkanPasteurRa.
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2011, 10:17:23 PM »
Microbiologists are AWESOME! Okay yes is seems like a type A and a type Alpha is waiting for a type Gerbil and a type lemon Popsicle. I have often suspected quantum physicists of partaking of their chemist friends best stuff, I suppose a good microbiologist doesn't even need help.
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Offline Will's Swill

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Re: Harvesting wild yeast (but NOT brett!)
« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2011, 09:46:21 AM »
The Egyptians and Sumerians used "bread" yeast. They would just throw some bread in the wort to get it going. I'm sure the baking killed the yeast so it must have been some that had settled on the loaf while it was sitting around.


Jailhouse hooch is made the same way - a slice of bread dropped in fruit juice.  I bet it's delicious.  :P
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