Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wild Yeasties


For those of you who do not know, that means "Relax, Don't Worry. Have A Home Brew". Those of you who do know are probably home brewers yourself.

One thing that is fascinating about brewing beer is something so damn simple has become such a science over literally thousands of years.

Every home-brewer knows the acronym "R.D.W.H.A.H.B." and yet, every home-brewer (to varying degrees) obsesses about (literally) microscopic details. Every home-brewer will tell you that you must sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Anything that touches the beer or has a chance to touch the beer or might even be close to the same room has to be sanitized. Bacteria and wild yeasts are the enemy of beer and can produce off-tastes. There are countless other examples of ultra-precise time / temperature / and volumes that have to be just right if you pay attention to all the books and Internet forums out there.

But, quite frankly, beer is simply malted grain, water, hops, and yeast. According to Wikipedia's History of Beer article, beer dates back to 6,000 B.C. I find it hard to believe that home-brewers 8,000 years ago had any idea what micro-organisms were flying around and landing in their beer. It was not until the 1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation. In fact, on Beer Day, I mentioned the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law). The original law did not mention yeast, because Germans in 1516 had no idea what micro-organisms were let alone what role they played in making beer.

Maybe I should mention in case you don't know that yeast is a micro-organism that eats sugars and poops alcohol. I do not think beer would be nearly as popular without the by-product created by those hungry little critters.

So, one of the most important pieces of the beer-puzzle was literally unknown for thousands and thousands of years, and amazingly, people were still able to brew beer. Amazing.

And do you know how beer brewing worked before humans knew about micro-organisms? Wild yeasts. There are millions and millions billions trillions wild yeasties flying all around us. Home brewers fear them because really, who knows what a wild yeast will do to you (and more importantly, your beer). But, truly, if these little creatures were not flying around trying to find something to ferment 8,000 years ago, no one would have discovered beer. NO ONE WOULD HAVE DISCOVERED BEER! Can you imagine? Can you?

And so, if people 8,000 years ago could brew beer without worrying about it, don't you think we should be able to? Why obsess?


Tonight I brewed a beer I am calling Fools Gold. When I brewed SheppyBrew's Nugget Gold, I was hoping it would end up like Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, which I think is a very good beer. I know a couple of people with whom I've shared my home brews also like Buffalo Gold. Nugget Gold did not taste like Buffalo Gold. The HME used in Nugget Gold just seems hoppier than Buffalo Gold. Well, by going to the description of Boulder Beer Company's Buffalo Gold, I found the hops and grains that are used in the beer. So you can look on to see how I tried to recreate the beer. It will be awhile before I am able to compare how I did. It will be fun to perfect this beer. You can be sure I sanitized and tried my very best to eliminate those wild yeasties.

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