"In ancient times, wild yeasts were all that were used. The sugars were freed from grain by malting, or used directly through the use of honey or the sap of trees, or converted by saliva or molds, and set out in a water solution, an offering for the magic yeast. And the yeast would come. Once ensconced safely in its new food, the yeast would take steps to protect it. A thick head of foam would form on the surface of the sugar/liquid and the feeding yeast would give off clouds of carbon dioxide gas. Both prevent other yeasts from settling in the food and feeding."
"Yeasts, like more complex plants, respond to being 'treated like a human being.' The scores of recipes for beer I offer in this book suggest the use of a domesticated, store-bought yeast. But if you can bring yourself to experiment, you might try making some of them with wild yeast. When the wort is ready, you might leave it out, uncovered, in a container with a wide opening. Then sit near it and begin to talk with the spirit of the yeast - to call on the bryggjemann or kveik to come - and see what it is like. To do so means reconnecting to the ancient tradition of fermentation - to connect to the thousands of wise women and wise men standing over their brewing vessels in small villages around the world calling on the spirits of fermentation to come to the wort and kindle the fire in it. Once you have brought a wild yeast to live at your home, place a carved stick in the fermenter and allow the yeast to fall deeply within its carvings. When the beer is finished, take the stick out and hang it up to dry somewhere out of the way. At your next fermentation, take it down and place it in your fermenter and call on it once again to awaken life.
If you do risk calling on a wild yeast and the wort turns out badly, what will you do then? you might ask. The wise ones might answer, 'Perhaps you will have to dance harder the next time.'"
"Once the gong or bryggjemann or kveik had come, the brewers and their culture had a special relationship with them. In many cultures, indigenous and otherwise, the wild yeast that come into the wort would be kept and nurtured as part of the family. Like sourdough starters, some wild yeasts were used for many hundreds of years - no new wild yeasts being coaxed out of the heavens. All regions and clans, even brewers within families, used many different methods to make the bryggjemann a home until it was time to feed him again. Inside South America and Egyptian clay brewing pots, when they were being made, lines, almost like language, were inscribed in which the yeast could live, in hibernation, until the next brewing. In the southwestern United States, the Papago would sometimes keep a little of the fermented tiswin in a special pot until the next year's ceremonial brewing, or else the baskets into whose weave the yeast insinuated itself were saved and used again for only this purpose. In Norway they often used a log or juniper branch."
"If a yeast log was used, a section of a birch tree was cut. Sometimes it was shaped and carved, sometimes simply placed in the wort. The yeast covered the log, and at the end, it, too, was hung up to dry. At the next brewing it was placed in the bottom of the fermenter, new wort was added, and fermentation began once again. Interestingly, birch has an extremely sweet sap, somewhat like maple, though weaker. The sap from the freshly cut tree draws the yeast deep within it as they search out its sugar. Then, during drying, the wood of the log cracks, forming deep crevices that allow the yeast to penetrate deep inside during the next brewing. Yeast can easily live a year in such a manner, and if tended to with devotion, will always produce a good ale."
These articles really made me wonder how I can apply Fukuoka philosophy to beer. I mean, what can we NOT do when it comes to brewing? Can we skip some of the boiling to reduce fuel consumption? Can we utilize hay boxes in the process? It seems to me that wild/naturally domesticated yeasts (as opposed to lab grown) are much more vigorous and could better protect beer from contamination, making some of the boiling unnecessary.
Rose Lee wrote:Can we skip some of the boiling to reduce fuel consumption? Can we utilize hay boxes in the process?