Sourdough Starter Instructions

©1995, 1999, 2003 Jeff Renner

Sour dough bread has its origins in the times before reliable commercial yeast was available for leavening. A baker had several options available to leaven bread. The local brewer was a source of yeast that, while rather slow and often bitter, was usually reliable. People away from a brewery could make a starter by capturing wild yeast from the environment, a chancy proposition at best. Because of the ubiquitous presence of Lactobacillus spp., this starter would inevitably become sour. In a true starter, wild yeast and bacteria establish a relatively stable equilibrium. When a particularly good starter was found, it would be prized, and the baker would save a portion of the previous dough or sponge in a covered container to use for the next batch. This starter is a very vigorous one that a friend brought me several years ago from a famous Parisian bakery. It is subtly sour, and as a matter of fact, the French object to calling their naturally fermented bread “sour dough.” They prefer the term “pain au levain.” While it isn’t very sour, it is far more flavorful bread than bread fermented with commercial yeast. You can make more sour bread by letting each stage ferment longer than the minimum. (more…)

AABG Brewola 2/10

What’s a Brewola? It’s a club brewing event of a special kind. Have fun, show off your brewing skills and learn how different beers can be from the same recipe.

This Brewola has an additional purpose: to create an AABG entry for the February, 2010 AHA club-only competition. We are selecting a “Dark Mild” style recipe, and will be providing “kits” so that we are all really brewing from the same recipe and ingredients. There are two recipe options, each of which can be brewed all-grain or extract.

Bourbon barrel barleywine (BBBW)

Filling the barrel -- Jeff and BobIn April of 2006, AABG members got together to fill our newly acquired bourbon barrel with barleywine. 11 5-gallon batches of the same recipe (see below) were brewed by members in order to fill the barrel. Since then, we have taken some out for sampling at AABG meetings, some members have withdrawn their 5 gallon share, and other members have added newly fermented beer (from the same recipe.) Every time we taste it, the beer is different. It has consistent oaky/vanilla aroma, some bourbon flavor, and a modicum of tartness. Sometimes it is sweeter, sometimes more sour, but always interesting.