I decided that over the Easter bank holiday weekend I would try to attempt a spontaneously fermented beer. The temperatures were cool, the cherry blossom was just starting to shed its pink blanket over my garden and I had a four day weekend to play with.
I went with a simple 30% wheat to 70% pilsner malt bill but then decided to add in (around 3%) acidulated malt to try to deter mould and e-coli growth. I got hold of some 2011 Hallertau hops, I added around 60g of these to the boil at 60 mins. These stank so bad, they were delivered to work and my desk, a week on, still smells faintly of hamster cage. I would have liked to have gone with the romanticism and tradition of a turbid mash but I do not have the time, patience of equipment quite frankly. I went instead with a 90 minute mash at 69oC and a 2 hour boil. I started quite late in the day in order to leave my wort to cool overnight.
I transferred my wort into two 5 litre stainless steel cooking pots and tied cheesecloth over the top to stop any insects from getting in. I left these under the trees in my garden overnight (1 cherry blossom and 2 sycamores). The colour in the morning was alarming, it’s amazing what oxidation can do. It’s now bright orange.
I moved the wort to two glass demi-johns and left them. Well, when I say I left them, I actually checked them an unnecessary amount of times for signs of fermentation. A watched demi-john never ferments.
I did the brew on Monday and it wasn’t until Friday morning that there were visible bubbles on the surface. The water in the airlock had started to move a bit on Wednesday but Friday was when I could actually see the wort change. It fascinates me how quickly this change happens. In the space of 2 hours the whole surface was covered in a white blanket of bubbles. Today is Monday and the bubbles are just started to sink, what will happen next?
I’m going to leave this for at least a year. I’ll check on it from time to time to see if it needs ditching, I’m not expecting much, it’s more just for my own interest of witnessing a spontaneous fermentation in action.
A week after writing this blog stuff started to happen in the demi-john, a pellicle started to form and it is now full of massive bubbles.