Wild & Sour Brewing

I have had a long interest in brewing sour and wild beers, but my interest and brewing of these beers was frequently interrupted by the 12-year odyssey that fell between my completion of a BSc and my now-career as a scientist/professor.  Now that I'm (hopefully) settled, I am beginning to seriously brew these styles of beer, and have begun a new project to purify strains of wild yeast suitable for brewing.

This page contains all of my posts in relation to this topic - including recipes/updates/tasting notes on sour & wild brews, as well as a complete listing of all "Hunting Wild Yeast" series.  This series, planned for the upcoming year (i.e. 2013) will follow me (and a few members of my brewclub's) attempts to capturing, purifying and characterize strains of wild yeast.


General Sour/Wild Beer Brewing

Wild Brewing Organisms: Outlines of various wild brewing organisms - where they are found, what they look like, and what they do. 

  • Anatomy of a Wild Ferment - An article describing what goes on during a wild ferment.
  • Yeast: Species,Strains and Variability - a discussion of what comprises a strain versus a species of yeast.
  • Brettanomyces - An article describing the most commonly encountered wild yeast, including a brief description of how it can be isolated & identified from the dregs of a wild ferment.

Recipes & Brews

  • All-Brett Porter. An experimental porter, using Brettanomyces as the sole fermentative organism in the beer.
  • Gnarly Roots - barley wine double-fermented with saccharomyces & brettanomyces yeasts. Recipe & Brewday.   Tasting #1 (Nov 2013).  Fancy-Schmancy Labels.
  • Summer Sour - a simple, quick Berliner Weiss recipe based on a sour-mash method.  A great summer beer, and a great way for people to get into wilds & sours.

Video Series: Capturing Wild Yeasts

Hunting Wild Yeasts



  1. Thanks so much for the great info! I just plated by first batch from a mead starter that was inoculated with wild raspberries. The starter smelled a lot like kombutcha when I plated, so I am concerned that I have a lot of Acetobacter. Is there any way to identify Acetobacter colony morphology from a useful species?

    1. Not really; acetobacter forms colourless, circular colonies; much like lacto, pedio, and many strains of yeast. Acetobacter can be controlled by limiting access to oxygen - do you have your fermenter well sealed with an airlock?

  2. Bryan,
    Thanks for the great blog. I just went through the process of capturing yeast from the backyard and isolating it on agar plates. I have a starter that is 48 hours in the flask from one of the plates and would like to make a small (1 gal) batch of pale ale. I'm not looking to do sours or long fermentations. I just want to try to make a regular beer with what I've caught.
    My starter has a distinct canned corn odor. I don't know if this is from the wort or from the yeast. What do I need to watch out for to make sure this beer is safe?

    1. Canned corn aroma is usually DMS, or related sulphur compounds. This could be from the malt you used (especially if you used pilsner malt), but may also be from your yeast or lactic acid bacteria that came along for the ride.

      If this is DMS or a related compound it will dissipate if aged long enough. It is unlikely to indicate the presence of anything dangerous - but be sure the beer is fully attenuated before you try it!


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