Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Wine Yeast Flemish Ale

BM45 red wine yeast and ECY02 Flemish Ale.I have a backlog of brewing ideas waiting to be tried out (to put it lightly).  It takes a lot of time for some of them to bubble-up to the surface for brewing (and some never make it).  For the last six months (ever since I listened to the Shea Comfort interview on the Sunday Session) I've been wanting to use wine yeast to ferment a beer; more specifically BM45 (a red wine strain known for imparting jam and berry-like aromatics) as the primary fermenter in a Flemish Red.

It took some time for me to get around to ordering the dried yeast (it wasn't available locally), but everything came together perfectly when my friend Alex passed off a second generation East Coast Yeast Flemish Ale slurry.  The recipe itself was pretty similar to a few Reds I'd brewed in the past, but instead of my standard 1:1:1 blend of Pils, Vienna, and Munich I dropped the Pils and made up for it with more Munich and Vienna.  The gravity was a bit higher than anticipated, but this should only bolster the winey character.

Racking the Flemish Red wort to the fermenter.I did make a misjudgment in my process... maybe.  I had read that BM45 is a really slow starter, including a report of three days with no activity before it took off in a beer.  Despite knowing this I pitched the rehydrated wine and ECY02 simultaneously.  By the next morning the fermentation was raging, almost certainly the ale yeast in the blend.  Luckily BM45 is a "killer" strain (that is it produces a factor that kills many other yeast strains within hours) so once it got going it should have taken care of the ale yeast (almost all strains of which are susceptible, according to Shea).  Luckily the killer ability does not extend to the other important yeast involved in the ferment, Brettanomyces.

When I racked the beer to secondary the mouthfeel of the sample I pulled had a coating viscosity.  At first I was suspicious that it was the Pedio getting "sick," but the description of BM45 says "produces high levels of polysaccharides resulting in wines with great mouthfeel and improved color stability."   I'll be interested to see whether or not that fullness survives the Brett and into the finished beer (I'm betting not).  I'm still debating adding either wine soaked oak to reinforce the vinous character or plain oak to allow me to tell exactly what the BM45 brings.  Either way I'll have some red wine on hand in 18 months when I bottle to add if the flavor needs a boost.

Wine Yeast Flemish Red

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.50
Anticipated OG: 1.068
Anticipated SRM: 17.6
Anticipated IBU: 16.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

40.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
40.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Vienna Malt
8.0% - 1.00 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
4.0% -  0.50 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
4.0% - 0.50 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat
4.0% - 0.50 lbs. Special B Malt

0.50 oz. Sorachi Ace (Pellet, 9.00% AA) @ 60 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Lallemand BM45 Brunello
ECY02 Flemish Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest -  60 min @ 158

Brewed 6/12/11

Fly sparged to collect 7 gallons of 1.054 wort.

Chilled to 68 F. Pitched 1 pint of ECY02 Flemish Red and 8 g of BM45 (rehydrated), shook to aerate.

Fermentation started strong in 12 hours. Temp around 70 for the first 36 hours, then the ambient temp was up in the mid 70s for the rest of primary fermentation.

7/3/11 Racked to a five gallon better bottle for long aging.  Since last week the ambient temp has been 65 F thanks to my new A/C unit. Gravity down to ~1.020, some light sourness already as well as a really viscous mouthfeel, not sure if the beer is getting sick or if it is just the BM45.

5/8/13 Bottled with rehydrated Champagne yeast and 3 oz of table sugar. FG 1.012, 82.4% AA, 7.4% ABV

9/23/14 This batch fought long and hard to come around. Wish I'd posted a set of notes during it's rubbery-yeasty phase, but I waited until it came around, which took almost a year and a half in the bottle!


Bob Yeaw said...

Thank you for documenting this! I'm also interested in brewing with wine yeast and listened to the Brewing Network Show with Shea Comfort - Great information!! I was wondering about one thing - you mentioned that the BM45 is a "killer" yeast, which I remember from the BN show (the yeast creates a protein that kills other yeast strains or some such thing). But how did you find out that Brettonomyces is not affected? Trial and error? or did you find some research in the area you can link to?

I've got aging a saison fermented with the "71B" wine yeast, followed by White Labs American Farmhouse (WLP670). I have BM45 and B. Lambicus ready for my next experiment..

Enjoy your blog!

Draconian Libations said...

I had the same idea since listening to the same show! My idea: a Belgian Blonde fermented with Wyeast's Chablis strain finished with Brett lambicus when the Chablis strain craps out. Can't wait to follow this one!

Nateo said...

I've got a wheat planned with K1V-1116.

Alistair Reece said...

"I have a backlog of brewing ideas waiting to be tried out (to put it lightly)."

Isn't that a universal state of being for homebrewers?

Eddie said...

"I've got a wheat planned with K1V-1116."

Plus one, but mine is a saison with Wyeast Dupont the initial fermenter and K1-V1116 pitched afer the initial krausen drops.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I think it is safe to assume that Brett isn't affected because wine makers have real problems with Brett infections.

The blonde with Chablis and the wheat with K1V-1116 sounds great, let me know how they turn out.

All homebrewers have recipes in their backlog, but I'm not sure how many have a backlog of new techniques.

For the Saison, are you concerned that waiting until after primary fermentation their won't be enough simple sugars left for the wine strain at that point?

McG said...

I love this idea! I heard that interview with Shea Comfort and was really fascinated by it. I too would love to do a beer with a red wine yeast. But I gave up on it thanks to the fact that most of these strains will leave a beer underattenuated because of their inability to ferment complex malt sugars (the tri and tetra-whatever chains), and the fact that the killer status of those wine yeasts means you can't dose it up later with a more attenuative ale yeast. But your solution is brilliant: Brett and bugs should be able to eat through the long chain sugars later. Why didn't I think of that? Do you think that the wine yeast character will survive the souring process? I'm very curious to hear how this goes. Good work, Mike, as always. :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Like most strain I assume that some complexity from the initial fermentation will persist into the finished beer, although it is always hard to judge exactly what comes from the primary yeast. If you want to just use wine yeast you could try the enzyme route to breakdown some of those longer chain sugars into simple sugars that the wine yeast can ferment.

Nateo said...

IIRC, Shea recommends fermenting maybe 1/3rd of the batch with wine yeast and the other 2/3rds with an attenuative ale yeast, and blending to taste. He said the wine yeast can't ferment maltriose, with the possible exception of 1116, so the FG in the wine yeast 1/3rd will be much too high.

I'm not sure how that would work if you're going to do a long Brett ferment. In any case, it's probably good you dosed the batch with some beer yeast too.

Nateo said...

I thought I'd update this with my personal experience. This past year I've been playing around with different wine yeasts in sour beers and blending, and have gotten the best results by fermenting 1/2 with a yeast that can eat maltotriose, and 1/2 with a yeast that can't. The residual sweetness from the poorly fermented half balances the acidity nicely.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Do you end up with a problem with over-carbonation after blending? Or are you blending and then pitching bugs?

Jim said...

How did this beer turn out when all was said and done?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This one is still in the carboy. I go back and forth on it, but the sample I pulled Saturday wasn't great. Somewhat sulfury/fecal. Not sure whether to blame the killer wine yeast or the hand-me-down bug slurry. I’ll give it another six months before I make any rash decisions.

Hard to push boundaries without making a bad batch here and there.

sweetcell said...

we wants an update! how did it taste at bottling? did you pitch fresh yeast at bottling?

do you usually re-add at bottling? i typically add champagne yeast (killer!) for anything aged over 3 months, i don't trust bugs or brett to carbonate.

oh, wait... did you force-carbonate?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It tasted alright at bottling. Still some of that deeply yeasty flavor it's always had. I did re-yeast (as noted), given the age. Brett would have probably gotten the job done, but it can take quite awhile.

billy.braga said...

It's been bottled over a year, did it turn out good ?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This batch turned out alright, but not great. I've been meaning to do a full tasting.