Brewing really is a brave new world right now. The explosion of craft beer is leading brewers into previously unknown territory. For hundreds of years, the main yeast used in ale production has been Saccharomyces, which over generations has developed into a beer-making machine. The two Saccharomyces strains that we use are reliable, dependable yeasts that produce great beer consistently.
There is another yeast that is less familiar to most people. This yeast is called Brettanomyces, named for its tendency to pop up uninvited in British breweries. Essentially a wild yeast, Brettanomyces behaves a little bit differently and produces some interesting results. People describe the flavors of Brettanomyces in many different ways, but my favorite is “medicinal.” Medicinal, but in a good way.
Another organism that is playing a larger role in brewing is lactobacillus. It’s the same bacteria used to make yogurt. In beer, it produces lactic acid which has a nice, thirst-quenching tartness. We culture our lactobacillus from our grain, where it lives naturally.
Crooked Run’s first sour beer uses both to create a pleasantly tart, light brown ale: Wild Ale. What does it taste like? You’ll just have to try some to find out.
Lactobacillus in action: A heated water bath keeps the wort at optimal temperature for growth
The final blended beer undergoes a second fermentation with raspberries