I’m finally getting ready to brew again on the 26th using some Sante Adarius dreggs that I’ve harvested yesterday. I took them from two bottles, Saison Bernice and Cellerman, which is a Sante Adairus and Triple Rock collaboration. Cellerman was fantastic, a nice tart lemony taste, definitely citrus forward. Then the oak and brett come through to really balance out the beer. Bernice was fantastic too, very brett forward. I got huge grass notes while drinking it that made it noticeably different then Cellerman. Both were just absolutely delicious and definitely a treat.
However, I wanted to share my process for stepping up bottle dreggs. There is tons of information out there on how to do it, its incredibly easy, and its totally worth it.
What you need
- Some good solid beer that is unpasteurized. Most wild ales or saisons will be unpasteurized and have the bugs in them. It’s always worth it to double check. Michael Tonsmiere from The Mad Fermentationist has a good list of bottles you could harvest from. In general, if you see a lot of sediment at the bottom it is a good indication that you can harvest those bugs. Other things to be aware of is some breweries bottle condition with a different yeast strain then they fermented with. And in high ABV beers, the yeast can die out and be harder to step up.
- Dry Malt Extract and Yeast Nutrient. Your going to use this to make your small starter with. Easily obtainable from your local home brew store. Yeast nutrients is probably optional, but I’ve always used it. For the DME I usually use something that is similar to the beer I’m going to make.
- Something to ferment in. A 1000ml Erlenmeyer flask with a stopper and airlock works great for this (see the picture for my setup). I’ve also used mason jars in the past with just aluminum foil over it but you run the risk of oxygen and other unwanted bacteria getting in. Unless of course you want them in there.
How to do it
- Let the beer sit for an hour or two so that all of the sediment sits at the bottom of the bottle.
- Using a butane lighter, flame the top of the bottle to sterilize it.
- Pour the beer into your glassware of choice! Try not to tip the bottle too many times as your trying to keep all of the sediment at the bottom.
- With the last inch or two in the bottle, swirl it around and pour it into your Erlenmeyer flask.
- Boil 2 cups of water then add the 1/4 cup of DME and 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient for an OG of about 1.020
- Boil for 20 minutes
- Cool the starter to room temperature
- Throw it in your flask, put your stopper and airlock on, and wait 1 week!
- repeat steps 5 – 8, except this time use 1/2 cup of DME to 2 cups of water for an OG of 1.040. I just put it on top of previous 2 cups.
At the end of the second week, if successful, you should have a healthy starter going. For my past 3 beers I’ve taken this starter and pitched it directly into the beer. Don’t be worried if by the end of the first week you don’t see any activity. Every time I’ve done this it has taken a full 2 weeks before I see a healthy fermentation start taking place.