Thursday, January 6, 2011

East Coast Yeast Bugs

On our drive up to Boston today Audrey and I stopped to buy a handful of the first few commercial releases from Al Buck's East Coast Yeast lab at Princeton Homebrew in Trenton (the only place they are currently available).  Before this venture Al had been putting his considerable microbiological talents to isolating brewing microbes, giving away Bugfarms (custom blends of those microbes, we used III in our wine barrel solera), and winning homebrew contests.  His sour blends have always been balanced for more aggressive sourness and funk than the Wyeast and White Labs blends, so dregs aren't necessary.

Four East Coast Yeast VialsI picked up four of the strains/blends:

Bugfarm IV - A large complex blend of cultures to emulate sour beers such as lambic style ales. Over time displays a citrus sourness and large barnyard profile. Contains yeast (S. cerevisiae and S. fermentati), several Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. The BugFarm blend changes every year and can be added at any stage of fermentation. Now producing Bugfarm 4 (includes a newcomer – Brettanomyces custersianus).

Brett Blend #1 - Three individual Brettanomyces isolates from lambic producers combined to give an aggressive brett presence in any beer. Vigorous, funky and acid-tolerant, the blend can be added at any stage of fermentation and is excellent for priming or re-yeasting.

Saison Brasserie Blend - A combination of several Saison yeasts for both fruity and spicy characteristics accompianied with dryness. Apparent Attenuation: up to 80%. Suggested fermentation temp: 75-85° F.

Scottish Heavy - Leaves a fruity profile with woody, oak esters reminiscent of malt whiskey. Well suited for 90/shilling or heavier ales including old ales and barleywines due to level of attenuation (77-80%). Suggested fermentation temp: 60-68°F.

I'm planning on using the Bugfarm for our second solera (a strongish golden ale that Nathan and I will be aging in our new apple brandy barrel).  The Saison blend and the Brett blend will be combined into a slightly strong rye saison.  I was hoping to use the Farmhouse Brett (the Saison blend plus a Brett), but it was sold out.  Finally the Scottish Heavy will go into a Scottish stout (followed by some sort of heather gruit).

Princeton Homebrew also had the Old Newark (the actual Ballantine strain) and the Trappist (I suspect one of the fabled Brewtek strains), but I didn't want to overbuy. The Princeton Homebrew website doesn't allow online orders, but you can arrange for Joe to ship you the East Coast Yeasts if you send him an email (joe at  The Bugfarm is $10, the rest are $8 (shipping is $8 uninsulated, or $15 insulated/iced), supplies are very limited.


brian spaulding said...

Recently pitched Bugfarm 4, Farmhouse Brett, Brett blend 9 and Trappist in a variety of worts.

So far they have all been excellent and make for some very exciting beers. Obviously they have some time before I can make a final verdict but I'm pumped to find out.

Ryan W. said...

My first sour: I have had a Flanders Red going for about 3 months now. Primary, I pitched Roselare. Transferred to seconday with a toasted white oak dowel, added some Russian River dregss and a tiny bit of Al's bugs 4, and later pitched some Jolly Pumpkin dregs. I tasted a tad bit the other day... it doesn't have much flavor to it... a bit sour, but not much. It still has a pellicle on it, and I'm intending to leave it for another 9 months or so. Do you think it would help increase overall flavor in the long run if I pitched the rest of the Al's bugs 4 jar?

jaymo said...

Ryan, it can't hurt. The Bugfarm blends tend to have a few ale strains along with all the bugs, so primary-ing with Bugfarm has always worked best for me though.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Hi there!
You really have a kick ass blog!

I was brught to you blog from Paul´s "This beer is a pipe bomb" blog.

I´m a fairly new in the hobby, age 37, and started with homebrewing last june, so I´m still have lots to learn.

Of course I have to deal with the geogaphical limitations, because in Brazil the hobby isn´t as popular as it is in U.S., but anyway, we have plenty of good stuff to work down here.

I can see you are very experienced with yeast, so I´m here for asking for your help.

I´m designing a Saison recipe, but as I live in Brazil and due to complete lack of liquid yeast (not viable since the time consumed by international shipping is an average of 30/40 days, which degenerates pretty much the brave yeast cells), I´m thinking in replace the Saison belgian liquid yeast for the Fermentis SafBrew T-58, which is fruitty and spicy... with a complimentary pitching of SafAle US-05 or dry champagne yeast 5 or 6 days after....

I´m pretty aware thet the saison style is mainly guided by the yeast, but I think I don´t have other option since this seems to be a valid experiment.

The thing is: do you think this will work?

Does de T-58 will work good at 75/77ºF range? Or will I have vinegar instead of a good beer?

What do you think? Is this a viable experience???

Alternatively, I notest you talked about a saison dry yest bought from a Boston lab. Do you know if are those available for online shopping? That should be a good alternative for my project...

Oh, by the way... if you can, please, visit my blog: It´s in Portuguese, but with subtitles in english. It would be a honor to receive the visiting of homebrewer fellows from foreign.


Marco Piacentini
Nova Mutum - MT - Brazil

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Agreed, with Jaymo (I always like bugs in primary). Although at 3 months chances are the beer will get there without you having to do anything.

Marco, I haven't used T-58 yet, but it is certainly worth a try. There are a couple excellent Belgian Breweries that use it almost excursively with great results, including De Struise who controls primary fermentation at 75 F. The US-05 probably isn't necessary, but it will help the attenuation to make sure the beer finishes wuthout much sweetness (a characteristic of saison).

Your other option is to culture up the yeast from a bottle of saison if you can get your hands on one.

Are you talking about the yeast in this post? If so the saison yeast makes for a "dry" beer, but it is a liquid culture.

Looks like a nice blog, always good to hear that the hobby is taking off all around the world. Your Red ale doesn't look too hoppy to me for the style.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Oh yeah... teh new revised Red Ale recipe I´d posted a couple of days ago is not that hoppy. I restrained the hoppiness in this one in order to keep it insite the stile guidelines.
That other one i produced ( was the one that had almost 40 IBU´s... but that were a conscient option, because I´m a hopmaniac...

I´ll certainly follow your advice and use the T-58.

On jan 15 I´ll brew the new Irish REd, and then, on jan 22, I´ll brew the T-58 Saison.

I´ll post the results in my blog, and will let you know too...

Thanks a lot for helping!!! I´m adding a link to your blog.



Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Some ppl had told me that Fermentis S-33 would fit better for this style.

I tend to disagree, defendig the T-58.

what do you think about it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I hear confusing things about S33, some people say it is clean, others that it is good in Belgians. Never tried it myself, but T-58 certainly sounds like a better choice.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

I´m writing to tell that I finally finished my "Saison" Recipe(or "pseudo Saison" due to the yeast thing).

I want your opinion, if I may...

Here´s it:

4,221 kg Pilsner Malt
0,394 kg Vienna Malt
0,362 kg Wheat Malt Pale
0,750 kg White Table Sugar (Sucrose)

0,053 kg Cara-amber® (only for coloring)

10,0g Centennial (9,7%) - added during boil, boiled 70,0 min

10,0g Magnum (12,5%) - added during boil, boiled 60,0 min

10,0g Centennial (9,7%) - added during boil, boiled 5,0 min

5,0g Magnum (12,5%) - added during boil, boiled 5,0 min

11,5g Fermentis SafBrew T-58

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It all depends what you are going for. You can make a good saison with just pilsner malt and a single hop, or you can go in a more complex direction if you want more malt/hop complexity. Your recipe looks like it will have some nice toasted malt character and a touch of hops complexity. The Centennial certainly isn't traditional, but the citrus character should complement the yeast. Good luck

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Let me tell you about my Saison Brew day:

All seem to went well, with the exception of efficiency: 65%.

Even with a high proportion of grain, I had to cut off the running before expected because the gravity dropped below 1.006 (at 60 degrees celsius, which equals 1.010 after temp correction). That resulted in a 24,5 Liter boil and 19 liter final product (I expected 23L).

Due to that, the FG rised from the originally planed 1.056 to 1.061 (sugar added to the boil).

the fermentation seems to be going OK, but even after reviewing eacho of the steps, I can´t see why the efficency dropped so dramactically.

The malt grinding semmed OK to me... and event I had (in hipothesis) a coarse grind, the 90 min saccharification rest should deal whith this... Anyway, the iodine test was OK.

Well... Now, all I have to do is wait to see where the saccharomyces will take my beer...

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

If you ended up under volume and over gravity, why not just add water to correct both? 1.5 L of water would get your gravity where it was supposed to be, and help the volume.

Efficiency can be influenced by many factors. Maybe you were sparging too quickly? I don't normally monitor the pH of my runnings, on lower gravity beers I do a batch sparge.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

I didn´t added water because I was not prepared with chorine free water enought, but anyway... 1.061 final G still inside the parameters for the style.

What bothers me is the low efficiency. Maybe the sparging is the problem... I was testing a new sparge shower, but I really find that it was working OK, because de sparge took a total of 35/45 min for 20 liters(a little bit more than 5 galons)of water.

Next time I´ll monitor specifically this step.

Batch sparging is an option to be considered next time, because the grain quantity that will be increased wil be 440 / 500 Gr... nothing more than that.

I´m just thinking if the 750Gr sugar I added will work for drying the beer or if it would produce undesired ciderlike flavors, even with the sugar quantity being below 20% of the total fermentables

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

Finished the Saison´s primary fermentation last saturday.

The attenuation seemed good to me: FG=1.010 (OG was 1.061).

I took a sample, and the taste seemed a little bit harsh on alcohol... I hope the Secondary at low temperature fix this.

Racked to another vessel for the secondary, where the "thing" rests at 35ºF.

Dave K. said...

Finally got my hands on some ECY02 after a few months of being disappointed at how fast they sell out. My question is, I just got it in the mail last week and plan to brew in about 2 weeks. Planned OG 1.062. Should I make a starter or are they best to pitch as is? I've read that some other companies sour mixes you should not make a starter???

Thanks for your help, love your blog and can't wait for the book!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I would just pitch it as is. If you are worried about under-pitching, you can augment it with some healthy ale yeast of your choice.