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Has anyone done any experiments trying to capture wild yeasts around their home/property and ferment with them? Any tips, methods, ideas, etc. would be appreciated.

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Haven't tried it yet (although that might change tomorrow), but for methods check out this question: brewadvice.com/questions/804/… –  Room3 Sep 23 '10 at 18:07
    
interesting, thanks for the link. –  Mattress Sep 23 '10 at 21:28
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2 Answers 2

I think its largely trial and error of leaving an open fermentor around for a day, then close it up and seeing what you get. Not sure if the "coolness" factor of saying you did it would outweigh the cost of burning through enough worts to get one batch right.... then you'd probably spend just as much time trying to repeat it.

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there's no rule saying you have to spend 5 gallons of wort per attempt. Maybe make up some wort, put a small amount into a number of small jars, leave them sit out for a bit until it looks like fermentation has taken hold then seal/airlock and monitor. Taste the ones that don't look infected. Use the best as a starter for a large batch. –  Mattress Sep 28 '10 at 20:25
    
Interesting idea, so I stand corrected. I still like the control of using the huge variety of cultured bretts and lambic blends and bacteria available from commercial supplies like WLP and Wyeast . –  brewchez Sep 29 '10 at 1:05
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Yes, I have done this. In fact, I'm doing it right now. I took some wine grapes (pinot, from my winery) and crushed them into juice and skins. DON'T rinse them first. The first time I just left them in a mixing bowl, loosely covered with an unsealed plastic lid, until they fermented spontaneously on the native yeast. From there, I made a sourdough starter by mixing in flour every few days while straining out seeds and skins until it was entirely white.

This year I just poured the mashed up juice (aka must) into a plastic bottle and loosely covered it with the lid. It fermented on the native yeast after 5-7 days. Then I poured the wine off the top and boiled up some DME, cooled it and pitched the native yeast into it (in an Erlenmeyer flask), covered loosely with foil. It fermented. When done, I poured off most of the beer after the yeast settled out and stored it in the fridge in a sanitized jar. Voila. Native Saccharomyces that you can brew with.

I haven't yet brewed with it though... but am making a mean sourdough. Will let you know what happens with the beer.

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ps adding some Fermaid K yeast nutrients will help this all along. –  Juanote Oct 19 '10 at 2:51
    
haha that's awesome, I've actually just done the same exact thing this past week or so. My question with this method is: since it was hanging out on grapes this is most likely more like a wine yeast than an ale yeast right? Not that that matters to me at this point, just curious. –  Mattress Oct 19 '10 at 13:02
    
Yeah, it's a wine yeast, from one perspective, which is also basically the same thing as an ale yeast. I think we're dealing with Saccharomyces cerevisiae either way. Meaning, it'll ferment into a funky farmhouse-style beer, most likely. The difference being that my culture came from un-inoculated wine-- so it was the native yeast that came in on the skins, so there's a variety in there, to be sure. It'll be top-fermenting either way. –  Juanote Oct 26 '10 at 3:31
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