Wednesday Reads 1/7/15

Happy new year everyone! After a week off, I have more than the usual number of worthy reads on my list for today!

Secrets of the Best Brewers via Mad Fermentationist

The Gelatin Effect (more of a Kristallweizen guy, eh?) via Brulosophy

Craft Brewers are Running out of Names, and Into Legal Spats via the salt

If You’re Toasting to Health, Reach for Beer, Not (Sparkling) Wine via the salt

Wasted: How the Craft Beer Movement Abandoned Jim Koch via Boston Magazine

Marzipan Stollen via Wild Yeast

Guest Post: Ancient Egyptian Bread, by Miguel Esquirol Rios via Historical Cooking Project

Older but good assortment of breakfast dough recipes, including some scone experimentation via Flourish

Best Pizza You’ll Ever Make – really nice photo guide via Flourish

The Weihenstephan Strain (WLP300/WY3068) – Saccharomyces or Torulaspora? Part 1

I was flipping through some old ACS “Molecule of the Week” posts today when I came across this post about 4-vinylguaicol (4VG), one of the molecules that yeast can produce to generate a clove-like flavor in beer. This is particularly common in various yeast strains, such as Torulaspora delbrueckii (although the ACS post uses outdated nomenclature – Saccharomyces delbrueckii). This flavor is particularly desirable in wheat beers and is detectable in beers made with classic hefe yeast strains such as WLP300/WY3068. While the role of 4VG in hefeweizen wasn’t exactly news to me – many people have discussed 4VG and the best practices surrounding it’s production – it got me thinking about the strains we typically use for hefeweizens and related beers.

4VG

4VG, 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol

I’ve always assumed that WLP300 (the Weihenstephan strain, also one of my favorite strains) was S. cerevisae – after all, S. cerevisae has the capability of converting ferulic acid into 4VG.¹ That said, I was unable to find any documentation indicating that this strain was actually S. cerevisae with the exception of this paper (though it appears to lack validation that WLP300 was indeed S. cerevisae)The authors did sequence 4 loci in all of the yeast strains studied, including WLP300, but it’s not unreasonable that they wouldn’t be able to determine the species based on only the limited sequence data from those four regions (which they were expecting to be highly conserved or highly variable between S. cerevisae strains).

On the other hand, Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” claims that Bavarian Weissbier, aka hefeweizen, uses a unique Torulaspora delbrueckii yeast that produces a clove aroma, along with banana and bubble-gum fruitiness.” Even though he doesn’t directly address this specific strain, it’s hard to imagine him not including WLP300/3068 under the umbrella of authentic Bavarian hefeweizen yeast.

I also found some individuals claiming that WLP300 is indeed T. delbrueckii, in the HBD archive, the Mr. Malty yeast database, and at Eureka Brewing (WY3068), but with no backing documentation.² In fact, many references to WLP300/WY3068 being T. delbrueckii all write “Weihenstephan 68 (S. delbrueckii single strain)” leading me to think that most individuals are finding this information in a common location – perhaps the Mr. Malty yeast database.

Saccharomyces or Torulaspora? – from homebrewing.org

Either way, with the information available on the internet, it’s a dead end, with no really convincing or conclusive information. Both White Labs and Wyeast’s descriptions of the respective strains are curiously vague when describing the strains, not mentioning the what the species is. I would imagine if these strains were not S. cerevisae, that they’d make it a point to highlight that fact.³ As indicated by the Eureka Brewing post linked above, there’s no available rRNA data for this strain, making it a bit more difficult to determine the species without access to specialized equipment or services. I could get the rRNA at work but there would be no way to fund the sequencing without digging into my own pockets – not exactly realistic for this grad student! There are other potentially cheaper routes of species ID, but I’ll get into that in another post.

There is a teeny light at the end of the tunnel. I found a study comparing the osmotolerance of S. cerevisae and T. delbrueckii – it turns out that T. delbrueckii is quite a bit more osmotolerant than S. cerevisae – that is, it can survive in saltier, sugarier, etc conditions than it’s fungal relative. This can be tested (in an admittedly quick-and-dirty way) using the solid media osmotolerance testing methodology described by Hernandez-Lopez et. al, and while it couldn’t conclusively demonstrate which species WLP300 is, it might provide some useful preliminary information. So that’s where the next step lies – growing some WLP300 up and comparing it’s osmotolerance to a reference strain. Stay tuned!

Have any information regarding these strain’s species? I’d love to hear it!

Footnotes

¹As another caveat, not all T. delbrueckii strains robustly produce 4VG (they can be POF-, meaning that they lack the enzyme to produce 4VG). In other words, both S. cerevisae and T. delbrueckii can generate 4VG, but either species may also lack the capacity to do so. Therefore, ability or lack thereof to produce 4VG probably doesn’t help us much in determining what species a yeast strain is.

²I didn’t know about the Eureka Brewing yeast science blog until I googled around a bit on this subject. If you haven’t read the linked article or others on the blog, I’d highly recommend it! Very interesting information.

³And if this strain is indeed not S. cerevisae, is it really an ale yeast (as labeled by White Labs – “Hefeweizen Ale Yeast”)? It seems that most definitions of “ale yeast” specify that the strain is S. cerevisae. Sure, this is being a little pedantic, but I still think it’s an important question to ask!

Edit: I did a bit of reading and it actually might not be cost prohibitive to ID this strain via sequencing, so I may try that as well.

Hefeweizen Crepes

There are many recipes that can be improved with the addition of beer – this is definitely one of them. This is a straightforward recipe for crepes that I’ve been tweaking for the past couple of months, using a hefeweizen that we have on tap. As always, you can probably substitute whatever malty beer you have around and get good results. I haven’t tried IPA crepes, but maybe they’d be good with a spicy filling! With a hefeweizen, this recipe works equally well with sweet or savory fillings. A frequent filling at our house is nutella + banana or jam. We’ve tried pomegranate and nutella and that’s a great one too! 20150103_085003

Ingredients for 4 9-10 inch crepes: 

  • 120g AP flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2+ cup hefeweizen (more may be needed if your eggs are smaller)
  • splash of vanilla extract (is fine with savory filling, definitely a great addition for sweet fillings)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tbsp neutral oil (or melted butter, but I typically grease the pan with butter)
  1. Mix all ingredients and whisk thoroughly until smooth – try to prevent any clumping of the flour.
  2. Adjust thickness with more beer if needed – it should be quite a bit thinner than a typical pancake batter. This is usually necessary if your eggs are too small.
  3. Preheat a cast iron pan (i use a 10 inch pan) on medium heat.
  4. Melt a dab of butter in the pan and then add 1/4 of the batter, rotating the pan to distribute the batter across the entire base (you could also use a spoon, or one of the fancy crepe spreading implements, but I’m cheap and the fewer dishes, the better). 20150103_090944
  5. Cook until the top of the crepe is no longer glossy (the cooked side should be very lightly browned) and gently flip, taking care not to tear the crepe. 20150103_091328
  6. Add the toppings to the cooked side, and fold the crepe over on itself. In the pictures I’ve added some curried rice and stir fry from the previous nights dinner, plus some cheese to glue everything together. If desired you can also roll the crepe for a more classic presentation (though that is difficult with chunky fillings).
  7. Cook until golden brown, flipping to cook both sides. 20150103_091603

This is a really quick breakfast that is quite filling, and if you’re lucky you’ll have some beer leftover to make a hair-of-the-dog beer mimosa. Cheers!

Tasting Notes: Amarillo-Cascade Hefe IPA

A couple of months ago, I had some excess hefeweizen yeast lying around that I had harvested from a recent hefeweizen. I also had a lot of Amarillo and Cascade hops lying around. I knew that I wanted to get another IPA in the pipeline to put on tap, but I also wanted to try something new. This one was a fun one to research as there were only a couple of examples that I could find of this being done – that is, until I found an example of nearly exactly what I had been planning on the Mad Fermentationist.

I think Michael Tonsmeire is the homebrewing equivalent of The Simpsons – You think you have a novel idea, and it turns out that he’s done it!

This has happened for several recipes that I’ve put together, although it’s probably for the best, as I’m sure the extra information has resulted in a better final product than if I had attempted it blindly. My recipe was somewhat different from his. The details of the brew day are in a previous post that you can see here. I wanted to push my beer a bit more into IPA territory and hopped it accordingly.

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What a nice looking beer!

I dry hopped in the keg for a week, carbed, and sat down to taste the beer the other day.

Appearance: Dark gold, with a white frothy, lasting head. Cloudy, like a hefeweizen should be.

Smell: Light pineapple, with some stone fruit (peach, mango). Esters from hefe yeast play a supporting role. Just a touch of hoppy “dankness.” When first poured, there were pleasant hints of lemon, pepper, and freshly cut foliage.

Taste: Fruity followed by waves of gentle bitterness. Brighter piney notes, as well. Otherwise, a little grain flavor but generally crisp and clean. Nice blending of the most appealing attributes of an IPA and hefeweizen.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, with some bubbly bite. Refreshing and satisfying.

I’ll definitely be making this again, although perhaps with different hop combinations to see how that changes the resulting beer.

This was quite a bit fruitier than I was expecting – I think there must be some interplay between the hop and yeast profile to produce these flavors (peach/mango/pineapple) that aren’t nearly as obvious with either cascade/amarillo or hefe yeast alone. Amarillo is a fruit hop, but without knowing what hops went into the beer I would have expected that this beer was brewed with a very fruity hop such as Citra or Galaxy. This keg is going quickly, so I’ll have to brew another one again soon!

 

Update 2015: I rebrewed this and got a lot more clove/4VG than the previous iteration. I’m not sure why that might be, but looking at my notes here, I bet it had to do with the pitching rate. This was a large amount of WLP300 slurry from a hefeweizen for the first iteration but the second iteration was just a tube of WLP300. I’m guessing the extra strain of the underpitching resulted in the clove flavor – something I appreciate and target in a standard hefeweizen, but I don’t appreciate in this recipe. So next time, I’ll be sure to pitch a hefty starter to prevent that clove flavor from rearing its head, and I might reduce the % of wheat as well for the same reason…

Beer Bread Boules

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I just put an oatmeal stout on tap and seem to be working beer into all my cooking these days (hefeweizen crepes seem to be a weekly occurrence), so I thought it might be nice to put together a stout based beer bread. Beer bread is relatively simple in that you can really make any bread recipe into a beer bread recipe by substituting the water 1:1 for whatever beer you like, usually something more malty and not so hoppy. I have heard that some people do like IPA bread – but I have yet to try to make that. Oatmeal stout, on the other hand, sounds like the perfect match for a bread.

Either way, this is what I have spent the past couple of days making and optimizing. This is a poolish based bread, so planning ahead is a must! Prep the poolish in the AM for bread in the evening. Scroll past the pictures for the recipe!

Poolish at 10am (that is a mug of coffee, not beer):

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And at 5pm:

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Finished dough, proofing in the baking vessel:

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And, one of two finished loaves (the other is in the intro picture to this post):

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Beer Bread Boules

Note: I like a chewier bread, so I used ~2/3 high protein flour (King Arthur Sir Lancelot) and ~1/3 medium protein flour (King Arthur All Purpose). King Arthur All Purpose would also make a great loaf by itself, but using that (or another flour) will reduce the required liquid a bit.

Poolish

  • 320g King Arthur Sir Lancelot Flour
  • 415g oatmeal stout – this probably brought a bit of beer yeast with it, which may add some nice character! You could easily substitute any malty beer here.
  • 1/8 tsp instant dry yeast

Bread

  • all of poolish
  • 320g King Arthur Sir Lancelot Flour
  • 370g King Arthur AP Flour
  • 320g oatmeal stout
  • 18g salt
  • 5g instant dry yeast
  1. Prepare the poolish in the morning by mixing the flour and beer. Cover and sit in a warmish spot for several hours – I let it sit for about 7.
  2. Mix the poolish and all other ingredients, and stir for 5 minutes to mix.
  3. Knead on a stand mixer (setting 2) for 5 minutes.
  4. Cover and bulk ferment for 2 hours, folding at the 1h mark.
  5. Separate the dough into two (make sure your hands are well floured – this is a wet dough!) and shape into boules. Place into whatever you are baking them in (I’ve been using a dutch oven with great results) and proof 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 500F.
  7. Dust with flour, score the loaf with 1/4 inch deep slashes using whatever pattern you think is neatest.
  8. Place bread in oven, bake 40-50 minutes. Both loaves came out great for me when I baked them for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool.

The resulting bread is super nutty, somewhat chocolatey, and very satisfying! Cheers!