Wild Summers – Zymology in the Clemson Musser Fruit Farm

Thanks to some summer funding from the Clemson Creative Inquiries Program, recent Biosystems Engineering Graduate Jared McKnight and myself spent the early part of our summer winding through the endless rows of peach, nectarine, apricot, and blueberry trees at Musser Fruit Farm. What were we doing there? Other than gorging ourselves on the freshest ripest tastyest fruit in the Upstate, we were sampling fruits for wild strains of yeast of the saccharomyces variety. Image

Our experiments began by segregating samples of unwashed fruits. Each separate sample was mashed in a sterilized stainless steel bowl, then transfered to a sanitized erlynmeyer with airlock to allow the present species to multiply.

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We allowed these to ferment for about 1 week, then pitched the liquid phase of each sample into a solution of ~ 12 brix from some light malt extract.

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This 2nd generation cultivation sat in a 68 degree mini fridge where we sampled every few days to monitor the rates of fermentation in each sample. Within 5 days all samples were bubbling at a typical rate for saccharomyces, though the blueberry samples were the quickest to burp out some CO2 starting the second day. After about two weeks we pitched samples from each of the second generation into some 1 gallon fermenters and added to it a Saison Wort of 15 Brixx. Since our hop plots in McAdams Hall and the Student Organic Farm were producing well, we decided to pick some fresh Cascade, Nugget, and Centenial Hops to add some flavor and aroma to our experimental brews.

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Fresh milled pilsner and wheat malts made up the majority of the grain bill

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Boil Saison Wort and pick hops fresh from the vines in McAdams Hall

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Organic Cascade hops grown at the clemson student organic farm

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Fermentation is off to a good start! I’m possibly most excited about our control however, which is using a purchased Saison yeast from White Labs. We’ll have lots of testing to do under the microscope before any of our wild samples are safe to sample.

 In about a weeks time we will sample each yeast layer, and dillute them for inspection by microscope. We’re hoping to safely identify some saccharomyces, and not detect any clostridium. Hopefully in one years time, we will have some successful grain plots and malting experience to yield a traditional French/Belgian farm style ale, from 100% local feedstock – including our hops, grain, yeast and water!

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2 Responses to “Wild Summers – Zymology in the Clemson Musser Fruit Farm”

  1. Can’t wait to hear more about the experiments!! Also, what hops varieties are ya’ll growing?

    • Hi Ian, Thanks for the interest. We have Cascade, Centennial and Nugget Growing. Hope to get my hands on some low alpha or Noble hops soon. The Cascades and Nugget are producing very well with pretty good harvest in their first year. We will take rhisome from the best vines and replant more rhisome in early spring.If you know other local growers different varieties please help connect us. I’d like to get a rhisome from some more varieties. Particularly Mt Hood, Williamette or Traditional Haullertaur or Tetennager (sorry, probably butchered those spellings).


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