Back in November, I attended the first UK version of Brew Con World Series. As part of the day, attendees were invited to donate samples of yeast and bacteria for Brewlab to grow into a Megablend. A variety of samples were collected from bottle dregs, to kombucha to spontaneous yeast. Brewlab were incredibly generous in plating and growing up the Megablend, eventually posting it out to anyone interested in brewing with it. My sample arrived and was very active, I couldn’t undo the container so had to slowly allow it to gas off. I transferred it to a flask and stepped it up.
Brewlab did provide some reports and photos of what is in the Megablend but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t fully understand them. I know there’s definitely some Saccharomyces and definitely some Brett in there after the warning about allowing it to fully ferment out or risk bottle bombs was added in the report, but what exactly I have no idea. I smelt the Megablend after I stepped it up and it smells very acetic, which figures as I took it out of it’s container and exposed it to oxygen. Hopefully this won’t be the dominating aspect.
So what to do with it? Without knowing what is in it and how it will act it’s pretty tough to gauge what to do. I’d like to do something mad with it but, alas, I shall play it safe. Due to lack of funky FVs I started with a Saison base. I will move the Saison into a secondary FV once I get one delivered and put the Megablend in. Maybe once I’ve learnt a little about how it acts and tastes I can use it again in something a bit more interesting.
500g Acidulated (this was a mistake on the day, should have been a bag of wheat but I’ll style it out)
40g Styrian Goldings at 60 minutes
20g Coriander seeds at 10 minutes
I used Belle Saison yeast for this. Strangely haven’t used French Saison yeast before and I’m impressed. It ripped down to 1.010 in 3 days without any of the usual stalling issues you get with the Belgian strains.
My brewday was a bit different as I had the company of Emma Inch from Ferment Radio along to watch and have a chat. She’s meeting brewers using the Megablend for a feature. Usually I’d be a bit nervous about this as I’d have anxiety about a fellow brewer watching me and silently judging me but I think I am now at the stage in my brewing life where I feel confident in what I am doing. It was a fun day, we had great little chat about a variety of things including brewing disasters. I hope to do more collaborations or have friends over to brew this year as I grow in confidence, it can be terribly boring watching a mash and drinking beer by yourself.
A new glass demijohn turned up so I’ve transferred the Saison and added the Megablend. I also added some honey as a little experiment. I learnt a tip about making quads recently where you add the candi syrup in after the krausen has just fallen instead of in the boil. The reasoning is that yeast are lazy buggers who will munch away on the candi syrup first and forget about the rest if given the chance, leaving behind a lot of residual sweetness. Whereas if you make them eat the others sugars first and then give them the easy stuff you’ll end up with a drier beer. We’ll see.
It’s been 2 days and there’s been signs of a Saccharomyces fermentation which is just starting to subside. I’ll be keeping a beady eye on this for possible pellicles!