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May 19, 2020

Extract Brown Ale With Wild Yeast

extract brown ale with wild yeastThere are three methods for brewing beer: all-grain, extract, and partial mash. If you keep up with our website or YouTube channel, you’ve probably noticed that we only make all-grain batches of beer, but for this recipe, we decided to make an extract beer with steeping grains. Extract brewing is a much better choice for beginner homebrewers because the initial investment is cheaper and there’s much less room for error. Although this isn’t a normal extract brewing recipe, it’s an extract beer that’s fermented with wild yeast from a log. This is the second beer we’ve made with our reliable log sent to us by our friend Dailey Crafton, click here to read about the first one. Since you probably don’t have a magical fermentation log, we’ll tell you what yeast is a good substitute so you can still make a recipe similar to this.


Going into this recipe, you should know that it does not contain any hop additions. Our log yeast contains Lactobacillus which naturally makes beer sour. Hops limit the ability for Lacto to sour beer, so we didn’t add any hops to make this beer as sour as possible. 

log with wild yeast

The log that Dailey Crafton sent us

Full Brew Day Video

We brewed this using Clawhammer’s 120 volt 10-gallon BIAB system, watch us use it in the video below

Water

We started our brew day with 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water. We did not do any water chemistry adjustments.

We heated our 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water to 152° F (66.7° C) to prepare for our steeping grain addition.

Steeping Grains

Once our water reached 152° F (66.7° C), we inserted our steeping grains. For this recipe, we bought a sack of specialty grains that contained a mixture of Crystal 60, Melanoidin, Aromatic, and Chocolate Malt.

steeping grains for extract brewing

steeping grains for extract beer mashing

This is our bag of steeping grains before and during the steeping process

This baggie of grains will give our beer most of its color as well as some flavor. These grains are the equivalent to specialty grains in an all-grain beer.

Malt Extract

After letting our steeping grains sit for 30 minutes, we removed them and poured malt extracts into our water that’s still sitting at 152° F (66.7° C). For this brown ale recipe, we used 3.3 pound (1.5 kg) containers of CBW Golden Light and CBW Sparkling Amber malt extract from Briess. These extracts are the equivalent of base malt in all-grain brewing.

malt extracts for homebrewing

pouring malt extracts

We poured the entire container of both malt extracts into our kettle

Now that our extracts have been added, our water can now be considered wort. We made sure to stir the wort really well to make sure everything was dissolved and incorporated. The last thing you want is malt extract clumping up at the bottom of your kettle or for it to scorch your heating element. 

Pasteurization

Most extract beers require a boil, but for this recipe, we did not boil. However, we still wanted to kill any bacteria that could be hiding in the wort to ensure a clean fermentation. To do this, we set our controller to a pasteurization temperature of 172° F (77.8° C).

digital brewing controller set to 172

Setting our digital brewing controller to pasteurization temperature

Pasteurization is just applying mild heat in order to kill germs.

Chilling & Transferring

Once our wort reached 172° F (77.8° C) we transferred it to a fermentation bucket and added two gallons of cold water. This brought our total volume up to 5 gallons (18.9 liters).

transferring wort into fermentation vessel

We transferred the wort using the valve at the bottom of our kettle

adding 2 gallons of water to our extract wort

Adding water to our wort

Before adding our yeast (the log), we needed to lower the temperature to around 65° F (18.3° C), so we put it in a chest freezer for a couple of hours until the wort was chilled to yeast pitching temperature.

Yeast & Fermentation

Once our wort was chilled, we made sure to aerate it through shaking. Shaking your fermentation vessel for 60 seconds will incorporate much more oxygen into your wort which will allow the yeast to have a healthier and more vigorous fermentation. After aerating, our wort was ready for the log.

holding a log with wild yeast

adding log with wild yeast to wort

Adding the log to our wort

The log came from our friend Dailey Crafton who lives in Yonkers, New York. We discovered him through a Vice documentary and thought it would be awesome to collaborate. Dailey found this log in a park one day and decided to ferment a beer with it. The results were surprising and so good that he’s starting a brewery with the unique wild yeast found on the log.

Dailey is starting a brewery with the yeast from this log

Make sure to keep up with Levenaut Beer Co.

In scientific terms, the yeast contains a unique mixture of Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus, and Brettanomyces. If you want to learn more about the log, Dailey, and how to start fermenting with wood, watch our first brew day with the log and our interview with Dailey

man holding a log with wild yeast

We tell you all about the log during our first brew day with it

 interview with dailey crafton

Dailey tells you how to brew with your own log during an interview we did with him

For those with no log, a good substitute yeast would be 1332 Northwest Ale Yeast from Wyeast. This yeast will pair well with the brown ale recipe above and make something more traditional than what we got with our log.

For our beer, we fermented at 66° F (18.9° C), removed the log after 3 days, and let fermentation continue for 2 to 3 weeks.

Tasting

About a month after brewing this beer we came back to taste it. We first noticed the earthy and nutty aroma the beer had, which is a perfect start for a good brown ale. When we tasted it, the first thing we noticed was how sweet the beer was, which was unexpected. Fermentation finished with a final gravity of 1.010 giving us an ABV of 6.04%.

final gravity of fermented beer at 1.010 read with a hydrometer

We read our gravity samples using a hydrometer - a low final gravity means most sugars were fermented out of the beer

The low final gravity means whatever sweetness we picked up was mostly perceived because there was barely any sugar left in the beer. Besides sweetness, some spiciness came through which was definitely from the wild log yeast we used. Overall, this beer was not nearly as good as our first log beer. If we were to brew this brown ale recipe again, we would definitely add hops to it. We didn’t add any hops because we wanted to see how the log yeast came through without them, but the lack of hops really just left us with an unbalanced brown ale that wasn’t terrible, but definitely not crushable.

Rachael drinking extract brown ale

Rachael said "it's not super complex, but it's drinkable"

 

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