Last week, in preparation for my collaboration beer with Mr. New to Homebrew Richard Bolster, I grew up yeast cells originating on fruit grown in South Carolina, counted 100 billion of them (not by hand of course), assessed their health under a microscope, determined they were healthy and free of contamination, rounded up a few ounces of hops from my local homebrew shop and safely packaged and shipped it all to Richard's home in New Jersey. Next comes the hardest part of all, my work is done and everything is in Richard's hands...I must wait for the final product. Easier said than done.
Our collaboration brew is a saison (read Richard's recent post for more information on the origins of the style) with a relatively simple malt and hop profile allowing the wild South Carolina yeast to take center stage. As a self-proclaimed yeast geek, I was happy Richard agreed that the yeast should be the focal point of our saison. Typically, the yeast imparts very distinct flavors in a saison and can make an average version extraordinary if the correct yeast strain is utilized. The particular strain I chose for this collaboration beer is named "B3" and came from the South Carolina startup company, South Yeast Labs. Originally isolated from blueberries on Clemson University's fruit research farm the fellas at South Yeast put this strain through a series of rigorous tests examining its potential to ferment simple and complex sugars. As opposed to typical commercial yeast strains, wild yeast have a tendency to not only eat up the simple sugars, but also the more complex sugars found in wort. This characteristic tends to leave the beer relatively dry. Based on fermentation experiments done by South Yeast Labs, this particular yeast will produce a spicy, leathery and slighty sour (almost Brettanomyces-like) flavor to the beer. While I was growing up the yeast for Richard, I noticed it smelled very funky with a sour and slightly bready aroma reinforcing my decision to use this yeast in our saison. In order to get the most out of this yeast we'll use a higher fermentation temperature in order to help produce the esters and phenols that will give this saison a wild and spicy farmhouse flavor.
Richard's brew day was set for Friday, October 10 and I can't wait to hear how it all goes. Thankfully, Richard has offered to send me a bottle or two so that I can taste our collaborative concoction. I am confident that in a few weeks I will be toasting the completion of our first BYO blogger collaboration beer with a finely crafted saison. Until then, I'll be excitedly waiting to enjoy the first of many collaboration beers with my colleague Richard Bolster.
Happy collaborating, scientists.