Thursday, June 02, 2005


Well, Ryan 'crazy brewer' Clarke is up to his old hijinx once again. Is that how you spell highjinks? I have no idea. What is it this time you ask? Quintuppel decoction mashing with undermodified Moravian pils malt? Traditional Lambic fermentation? The ultimate in beer serving glory? No, no and no.

We're trying to culture Fantome's yeast. And in the process we get to drink three different Fantomes!

Fantome is a very small brewery located in Soy, Belgium. It is very very very artisinal (read: inconsistent). Ha. Of course artisinal means more than inconsistent, namely really fucking interesting. Fantome's beers are incredibly complex and perplexing. I'm been seriously tasting beers for about 5 years now and I have a very hard time picking apart Fantome. It's just great.

Anyway, it seems that a lot of the character in Fantome's beers comes from their unique strain of yeast. You can't buy this strain from the main brewing yeast suppliers, Wyeast and White Labs. So the only way to procure this yeast for brewing is by reculturing it from the bottle.

Now this yeast is notoriously difficult to culture. And it is apparently even more difficult to brew good beer with. But Ryan wants to try so we're trying.

Ryan got a bottle of the 'standard' Saison and a bottle of the Automne seasonal brew. I had a bottle of the Black Ghost. Note the massive amounts of yeast in the bottom of the bottles in this picture. You can just sort of tell.

Here's Ryan pouring the Automne.

Here's me opening the Black Ghost.

And me pouring the Black Ghost.

As far as tasting notes go, all three of the beers have the signature Fantome tartness. This is least prevalent in the Black Ghost, but the dominant character in the Saison. This bottle of Saison was quite citric and tart, but lacked the significant Brettanomyces character that I picked up in a draft version I had a couple months ago. I think I still picked up a bit of Brett here, but Ryan disagrees. Well, I'm pretty sure it's not the primary strain that makes it so tart because the other bottles weren't nearly so tart. It might be some sort of spice or maybe Lacto I don't know. Anyway, real tart. The Automne was in between the Black Ghost and the Saison. It had a mild malt character, but I was expecting more actually. Pretty dry finish, just a little cidery. The Black Ghost was the most interesting. Fairly mild tartness, but really interesting spices/malt profile. I got a lot of chocolate, and definately a spicyness that might be attributable to rye? Rayn got some green apple and had the best insight into this beer: 'taste kind of like root beer'. And he's right. It's a very caramelly-spicy fairly sweet brew. But far better than rootbeer.

Anyway, before we tasted we made a bunch of impromptu rich media plates: 5% DME, 1% dried yeast, and 2% Chinese dessert food agar that has vanilla in it. Oh well. The plates set up pretty nicely. Hopefully the yeast like vanilla.

Here's a pic of Mr.Beer-Dave pouring the plates.

Here's Ryan preserving the yeast in the bottle until the plates set up.

And here's Ryan the next day streaking some plates around our impromptu flame.

So we streaked two plates with yeast from each beer and Ryan made a low gravity 250ml starter with yeast from each beer. Hopefully some of it takes.

Wish us luck.

And try some Fantome.

No comments: