Lambics: Something Funky this way comes..

The brew crew was together brewing one fine Sunday morning. Everything was going well. We were brewing up a Saison, per Vanessa’s (of the famous brew crew) request. If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you may know that the Sasion style.. not really my cup of tea. BUT we try to be opened minded here, so if she wants a Saision… then (under protest) we make a Saison.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Our batch was very efficient (usually is when Vanessa is the head brewer for the day), so we ended up with some extra wort at the bottom of the kettle. Our carboy was full, and I was not comfortable putting more liquid in, minimizing the headspace, and having a fermentation eruption in a few days time. My thoughts? Dump it. It’s only 1/2 a gallon. Perhaps an evil part of me was a little excited to dump it. Vanessa was VERY distraught at this waste of liquid gold (what can I say? She’s all about the beer).

We put our heads together to try to salvage the 1/2 gallon. My fermenters were all full, I had no more spare yeast, and i really didn’t want to put 1/2 gallon of beer in a 6 gallon carboy (way too much headspace). Then it occurred to me. We were looking to try some lambic styles this year. Why not put that wort outside at night, catch whatever flora is floating through the air (aka wild yeasts, and bacteria), and see what shakes up.

For those of you who are not familiar with a lambics/ spontaneously fermented beer, its when no yeast is added to the wort, but rather you late nature take its course. That’s right, people. Forget those high-faloot’n lab quality yeasts. Lets inoculate these beers old school, using whatever flora is floating through the night air. Might be fun… also, might be a VERY bad idea.

So we tried it. From my research i new it needed to be done when the nights were very cooI and still. I also knew that the wild yeast from our neighbors citrus tree was going to be ideal, but since I was also thinking “farmhouse ale”… I found the perfect spot near his tree… and suspiciously close to our chicken coop. I left the beer open in the cool night air, in a large flat glass dish. It was around 10pm when i put the dish out, and got up early the next day (5am ish), to take it and put it inside a small growler. Then we waited.

Nothing happened for three painful days. It just sat there. Then on the afternoon of the third day we saw signs of yeast activity (the stuff floating on top of the liquid)!

Three day’s later we had high krausen, and it was bubbling steadily.

It was a very slow fermentation (over three weeks), and everyday i checked on it, to see how it was progressing.

At the end, we primed it for carbonation, and managed to get two bottles out if it. Since the recipe was a French Sasion, Vanessa (of the famed brew crew) thought that with its citrus and chicken influence, it needed a french sounding name.

And so, Pùp 1.0 was born (pronounced p-youp). As you can tell, we had very high hopes for this experiment simply based on the name we gave it.

In any event, we were pleasantly surprised when we cracked open of of the bottles, after letting it condition for about 2 weeks. The aroma was light. It was dry, without being overly so, and had a very gentle sourness to it. It was actually very refreshing. We were disappointed that the beer had NOT carbonated in bottle, which really would have made the flavors pop more.

Vanessa was excited to brew it again, but in a larger batch size to see if we could replicate it, or if we were just lucky this time. Unfortunately, this is very much a seasonal that we would need to replicate at the same time of year. So we have it scheduled for next January, with fingers crossed!