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.
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
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
Profile: Washington DC
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 158
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!