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.
I 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 solarhomebrew.com). The Bugfarm is $10, the rest are $8 (shipping is $8 uninsulated, or $15 insulated/iced), supplies are very limited.