NHC 2014 Wrap Up 6

Now that it’s been nearly a month since the National Homebrew Conference, I figure I’m overdue for a quick wrap up post.

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Check out the mention on page 63!

First I want to say thank you to everyone who came out to the Bootleg Brew Science seminar, or who stopped me during the conference just to chat or share a beer. I can’t think of a better experience than being around a bunch of homebrewers who love talking about yeast wrangling and who are excited about contributing their local yeast to the project.

Now here’s the quick rundown of events we participated in during the conference:

On Thursday afternoon, the first full day of the conference, one of our first stops was the Brewers Publications booth to pick up a brand new copy of Mike The Mad Fermentationist’s new book American Sour Beer. It was fun waiting in line with other sour beer nerds to have Mike personally sign my copy. I also attended Mike’s presentation on sour beer mashes, which definitely opened my eyes on ways I could improve my sour & funky brewing.

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BB Microbe Hotels at Perrin Brewing

Thursday evening my wife and I were invited by John Stewart and the crew at Perrin Brewing to do a tasting of four different barrels fermenting Bootleg Biology cultures. It was such a blast to sample beers made by talented brewers experimenting with microbes from the project. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to sample the beers further down the road to see how they’ve changed and progressed over time. In the meantime, if you’re ever in the Grand Rapids area I suggest stopping by to check out the brewery.

Friday morning I presented Bootleg Brew Science. It was crazy seeing how many people attended, especially considering the fact that Stone Brewing’s Mitch Steele was speaking at the same time!

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I don’t normally enjoy hearing myself speak, but it was really fun being up there! It was also quite an honor being introduced by a homebrew legend, Drew Beechum. There were a lot of great questions on yeast wrangling during the Q & A portion, and some questions about things I had never before considered. Just goes to show you that there is no limit to a homebrewer’s creativity and curiosity.

I hope that in the end the presentation was informative, a little entertaining, and also inspired those that attended to get out there and seize the yeast in their backyard…hopefully using a Backyard Yeast Wrangling Tool Kit!

If you weren’t able to attend, here are links to the presentation (5.6 MB PDF) and audio recording (must be an AHA member to listen). I’ve also put together a recipe for those who enjoyed Berliner Bear, or are interested in brewing a dark, quick sour (I probably missed some details, so feel free to contact me with any specific questions).

Berliner Recipe

Sour Beer + Black Bear = Berliner Bear

On Friday evening, Bootleg Biology represented with the GRiST homebrew club of Arlington during Club Night (thanks guys!). We served a special 100% Brett Hoppy Pale Ale (thanks to Bear Flavored’s article in the May/June issue of BYO for inspiration) fermented with Pithos #1 and overhopped with Centennial, Amarillo and Galaxy. Those who attended Bootleg Brew Science, and followed us on social media, got a free Training Loop & Agar Plate tchotchke. I’m interested in hearing what people have streaked with the plate. Let us know!

Of course I would be a jerk if I didn’t also thank Ben Laninga, Brent MacAloney, Pete Jones and Dan Bremer for their help and camaraderie during Club Night. Cheers fellas!

A couple sidenotes:

I just got back from a Yeast Odyssey in Colorado and have tons of microbes to work with. Right now is prime yeast capturing time (at least in the northern hemisphere), so get out there and be Bootleg!

This Saturday, July 12, I’ll be presenting a condensed version of Bootleg Brew Science at Little Harpeth Brewing for the 2nd Annual Middle TN Multiclub Homebrew Meeting. You should stop by if you’re in the Nashville area!


To fermentation!

About Jeff Mello

Chief Yeast Wrangler @bootlegbiology. I play with yeast so you don't have to. You may have already met my beard.

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6 thoughts on “NHC 2014 Wrap Up

  • MadMatt

    I wasn’t able to make it to NHC but I listened to your presentation, great stuff! I’m inspired to see what I can find in my area.

    With your Berliner Bear recipe, did you find the 20 minute boil added any slight DMS from the pilsner malt being boiled for such a short time? I’ve been dropping the pH of my sour mash berliner with acidulated malt in this very same manner for a while, but I always end up boiling for a long time for fear of DMS. Maybe I don’t need to 🙂

    • Jeff Mello Post author

      Hey Matt,

      Glad you got “the bug” from listening to the presentation.

      I can’t say I’ve ever experienced any DMS in a short boil, or any of my brews…and I constantly brew with pilsner malt. The only time I’ve ever gotten that DMS/creamed corn aroma is when dealing with a less than desirable wild yeast strain. What I’ve read is that DMS is more an issue for commercial breweries due to their large batch sizes and kettle dimensions. The primary goal with the short boil is to kill off the Lacto bacteria so you can deal with the wort as if it were a typical clean beer. Hope that helps.



  • Andy

    Hi Jeff,
    I really enjoyed your talk at NHC. I have a question regarding collection of home yeast. In your talk/video you recommend unhopped starter wort. I would assume that a lightly hopped starter wort would allow for better isolation of yeasts and avoid some of the hop-intolerant lactic bacteria taking hold. Is there another reason that you would not hop your test wort?


    • Jeff Mello Post author

      Hey Andy. Glad you enjoyed the seminar!

      I definitely recommend hopping the wort (as well as lowering the pH if you can) when doing the wild yeast starter jar capture method since the microbes to wort ratio is very small, and the good yeasties need a fighting chance to take hold in the collection vessel. As far as the fruit and swab methods: I don’t think hopping is as crucial for success and I don’t do so personally; but hopping the wort slightly certainly wouldn’t hurt.