Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brett Morpheus Funky Farmhouse

It's been awhile since I last brewed. Today is going to be a bit of an experimental beer using a yeast I've never used before, Inland Island Brett Morpheus yeast. The base beer is Dallas Barlow's Rye Saison recipe with some minor tweaks. I'm considering putting a portion of this beer on fruit, but won't decide on that until primary is done. I'm hoping for some interesting brett funk in this beer. This yeast is known for producing "significant acidity" which is likely in the form of acetic acid. I'm going to try to keep this in check by not aerating prior to pitching. Here's some info on the yeast from Inland Island, followed by the grain bill for today.
Isolated from a small Belgian brewery known for producing sour and fruited beers.  Yeast produces fruity and barnyard esters as well as well as a significant amount of acidity.

Attenuation: Unknown
Flocculation: Low
Temp Range: Unknown
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium
Grain Bill - 5 gallons
9.0# 2.0oz Avangard German Pale
2.0# 4.0oz Weyermann Pale Rye Malt
7.0oz Avangard Light Munich Malt
4.0oz Franco-Belges Special Aromatic
2.0ml Hop Shot (60 min)
56g Azacca (Whirlpool 30 min)
28g Saaz (Whirlpool 30 min)
0.5 Whirlfloc
Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
INIS-914 Brettanomyces Morpheus

Water - 8 gallons carbon filtered tap water with 3 gallons distilled.

Mash at 152F, 90 min boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No problems, OG came in at 1.070

Update 11/1/2017
Fermentation is cruising along. I saw visible signs of fermentation within five hours of pitching so I was expecting a very vigorous fermentation. It got going, but it seems to have leveled out and is just chugging along now. There was never any sign of needing a blowoff hose. Aroma off the airlock is nice with lots of hops and no hints of acetic acid.

Also, found the following information, I'm assuming is referring to this yeast, @

I'm posting here as this info used to be at a different URL which appears to be dead, so just in case, so that it isn't lost. Assuming this information is correct and referring to the same strain available from Inland Island, this beer probably won't sour much due to the high hopping rate. Still, hoping for an interesting beer.

Belgian microbrewery, uses its own unique yeast strain.

Alvinne brewery not only unique for its beers, but also their yeast strain is quite special. Moen, Belgium – Alvinne opened in 2004 and moved in 2011 to a new production facility in Moen, a small village near the city of Kortrijk. The brewery is situated in an industrial building with a long history. The target audience is the passionate beer lover from all over the world. The mission statement is to deliver world class & innovative beers, pushing the classical barriers and by only making use of malt ingredients, water, hops, yeast and the flavor of used wooden casks. Brewing about 15 different beers, a clear positioning of the portfolio became necessary. The Classical collection, with the Morpheus branding, holds the 3 basic beers of the brewery, accessible for a wide audience. Apart from this range, there is an Oak collection (barrel aged beers), Seasonal collection (cherry beer, Christmas beers) and the famous Sour collection.

The Alvinne team consists of 3 enthusiastic people (from right to left): Davy Spiessens: brewmaster, Glenn Castelein: 2nd brewer, PR and Marc De Keukeleire: yeast and hygiene management. Marc joined the brewery end of 2009 and brought in his passion and baby: his own cultivated yeast strain.

The quest of the Morpheus Yeast

Marc (“the yeast whisperer”) has a Master degree in food science engineering with a specialization in dairy. For years, he has been vacationing in the French Auvergne. This is the place to be for cheese lovers. It is there where the best French AOC cheeses like Saint Nectaire, Bleu d’Auvergne have their origin. It was in that particular mystic area of France, with its old volcanoes, where Marc found his yeast, or must we say, the yeast found him?

He created his own recipe for growth of yeast, and trapped his strain in the open air of the Auvergne. Of course, some unwanted yeast strains were growing in the beginning, but after years of careful selection only the most interesting ones prevailed. What is the criteria for great brewing yeast? First of all, it must be capable of fermenting maltose, the sugar that is found in malt. Furthermore, it doesn’t produce off flavors and it is alcohol tolerant.

Pilot tests were utilized to confirm the above properties of the yeast culture with pleasing results. By January 2010, all of the sour range of Alvinne beers and some selected other beers were fermented with the Morpheus yeast culture.
Almost none of the microbreweries around the world have their own unique yeast. Most breweries use commercial yeast. Alvinne owes a much of its uniqueness to this yeast. For the big traditional breweries that have existed for several generations, the yeast is their treasure and kept safely in yeast banks under -70°C circumstances, in order to have a backup if things go wrong. Alvinne, of course, keeps a backup, safely put away in these super deep freezers.

The University of Leuven is known for its brewing yeast knowledge, so it was there the Morpheus yeast was analyzed. They found 2 Saccharomyces Cerevisae strains and lactic bacteria (see pictures on the left). Saccharomyces Cerevisae is the standard yeast type we know for brewing ale. Lactic bacteria is commonly used in dairy applications, but also in sour beers, but unwanted in “traditional” ales. Both are kept together in a medium that Marc calls a “matrix”. Finding a protocol to keep the matrix alive and active was the next challenge. Fermenting with lactic bacteria and yeast together is called a mixed fermentation. The brewery is geographically situated in the heart of the historically “mixed fermentation” area in Flanders, Belgium.

Brewing with the Morpheus Yeast

Because of the mixed culture, they can brew both traditional fermented beer resulting in a traditional ale; or mixed fermented beer, resulting in a sour beer. The Morpheus yeast has a very high alcohol tolerance. The traditional ale Cuvée de Mortagne has an alcohol level of about 14% ABV. Few yeast strains can tolerate that amount of alcohol. Thanks to the Morpheus yeast, Alvinne is recognized as the worldwide innovator for the mixed fermentation sour beers. There are a complete range of sour ales now.
Enjoy the “probiotic”, super healthy sour ales!
Update 11/19/2017
Checked the gravity today and it's at 1.005. aroma is a little sulfury so I moved it into the ferm chamber to warm things up a bit. Other than the sulfur, it's a pretty nice beer.

Update 11/28/2017
Sulfur notes seem to have completely disappeared. There's still a lot of yeast in suspension so I'll probably start dropping the temps soon.

Update 1/31/2018
So this beer has just been chilling out in my basement. I pulled a sample tonight and it's pretty tasty. It has a pretty crazy pellicle. I'm not getting much acidity, definitely no acetic character that I can detect. It has some classic "Belgian" character, but it's not over the top. The year has dropped out quite a bit, but there's still some haze. I'm strongly considering putting at least half on tart cherries from my cherry tree.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

French Toast

Time for a food post.  This is my favorite French toast recipe and it's based on Alton Brown's French Toast Recipe. I like to use Harmon's Challah bread or their White Chocolate Pecan bread.  Challah is probably closer to traditional French toast, but the White Chocolate Pecan is really good too.

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of nutmeg
Bread, about 8 slices
4 tablespoons butter 

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine half-and-half, eggs, honey, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. The cinnamon has a tendency to float on top...don't worry if this happens, just mix it enough that there isn't any huge clumps. 

Dip slices into mixture and let it soak for up to 30 seconds per side (I usually do about 10 seconds). Place bread on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and allow them to "drip dry" for about a minute. Melt 1T of butter over medium to medium-low heat and cook toast 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to the oven and bake for an additional five minutes, then serve with butter and maple syrup. Repeat until all slices are cooked.