I've always been fascinated by the fact that yeast is the magic that makes our beers shine. Prior to becoming a homebrewer, I never really took any notice of the sludge in the bottom of a bottle conditioned beer. I just tried to avoid pouring it into my glass!
Lately I've been working on brewing the perfect Saison. I am a big fan of Saison Dupont which, in my opinion, is one of the finest examples of Saison out there today. With this in mind, I wanted to see if I could harvest the yeast from the dregs of a bottle of Dupont and produce a decent beer. There are different sources that claim that the same yeast isn't used at bottling as the main fermentation strain, but this was an experiment that I wanted to conduct nonetheless.
In this article, I will guide you through the steps that I took in order to brew a beer using the yeast from the bottom of a Saison Dupont bottle. It's easier than you think!
Harvesting yeast from the dregs of the bottle
To start off with, I poured the contents of a bottle of Dupont into a glass which was heartily consumed!Next, I took care to leave as much of the yeast in the bottom of the bottle with a small amount of beer. I left the yeast in the bottle to warm up to around room temperature (24 degrees Celsius).
I then took 1/2 cup of Dried Malt Extract (DME) and 1 pint of water and boiled for 10 minutes in a pot. Once this had cooled to room temperature, I then swirled the empty Dupont bottle and tipped the dregs / yeast into the starter wort.
I transferred the contents into a jar and covered with cling film and a rubber band, which was opened occassionally to purge the CO2 build up. I then left this for a few days at room temperature, and started to notice the yeast bubbling away happily.
Once the yeast had grown enough, I then had my yeast starter ready to use in my next brew batch.
It's worth mentioning that when harvesting yeast from a bottle, you need to keep things as sanitised as possible. If you dont, you run the risk of infecting your yeast. If you'd like to learn more about bottle harvesting yeast, there is a great tutorial video over at bellsbeer.com.
The Recipe (BIAB)
Now that we have our Saison yeast starter ready, let's get brewing! The recipe below is for the all-grain Brew in a Bag method, but it can be scaled to suit your needs depending on your setup.
Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Time: 60 mins
|Golden Promise||1 kg|
|Spelt Malt||1 kg|
|East Kent Goldings||40 g||60 mins||Boil||Pellet|
|East Kent Goldings||40 g||Hopstand (Flameout)||Hopstand||Pellet|
|Lactic Acid (Optional for pH)||8 ml|
|East Kent Goldings||20 g||3 days before||Dry Hop||Pellet|
|Harvested Dupont Yeast||Humebrew||21 Celsius|
Let's get brewing
The night before I was due to brew, I measured out my water and filtered it to remove any chlorine, chloramine and other impurities. As always, my chores before a brew day also involve cleaning and sanitising my equipment where necessary.
The following afternoon I set my water on the burner and aimed for a strike temperature of 65 C and added the grains to my brew bag.
Once the mash was complete, I added the first charge of bittering hops to the rolling boil.
After the 60 minutes of boil time was complete, I cooled the wort to around 24 degrees and pitched the yeast.
Before racking to my fermenting bucket, I took a reading of the original gravity (OG), which came in at just over 1.052.
The waiting game
With the airlock bubbling away, I patiently waited for my brew to be ready. With about 3 days to go until kegging, I dry hopped with around 20 grams of East Kent Goldings in a hop sock.
When fermentation was complete, I cold crashed the beer overnight and then transferred to a keg and pressurised to 20 PSI before waiting another 5-10 days before tasting.
Overall, I am very happy with this beer. Regardless of whether it is the exact same yeast strain that Dupont uses in their main fermentation or not, this is a great beer. It smells like a Saison and tastes like a Saison....it must be a Saison.
I get the typical spicy and peppery notes that a Saison brings and the East Kent Goldings really lend a floral aroma too. The mouthfeel is on point and I'm very happy with the flavour. Who knew bottle harvested yeast could work so well!?
In fact, I like this beer so much, that I even decided to bottle it and label it - Saison du Hume!