Whacky yeast aging idea

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Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby zapata » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:12 pm

So I was recently reading about some winemaking techniques. Specifically autolysis and "sur lie"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolysis_(wine)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sur_lie

I'm a beer brewer and in the beer world autolysis is a scary boogie man to be avoided at all costs. So these techniques surprised me but supposedly contribute:
the positive effects of a creamy mouthfeel, breadlike and floral aroma, as well as reduced astringency were noticed early on...
Snip...
The effects of autolysis on wine contributes to a creamy mouthfeel that may make a wine seem to have a fuller body....
Snip....
The increased production of amino acids leads to the develop of several flavors associated with premium Champagne including aromas of biscuits[5] or bread dough, nuttiness[6] and acacia. As the wine ages further, more complex notes may develop from the effects of autolysis...
Snip...
In the case of great Chardonnay, such as Montrachet, this adds a toasty, nutty "hazelnut" quality and additional depth and complexity. Chemically this can alter the oak flavour molecules increasing the integration, and making the oak seem less obtrusive to the palate. This is desirable because oak tannins are a polyphenolic acid, and can be harsh. This process can also give an added freshness and creaminess to the wine, and improve color and clarity. Muscadet is made in this fashion. The effect of the lees during bottle fermentation for at least 18 months on Champagne is considerable. The "bready" toasty notes associated with some of the greatest sparkling wines made are the result of 'sur lie' aging.

So creamy mouthfeel, fuller body, added notes of floral, biscuit, bread, nuttiness, hazelnut, acacia, and better integration of Oak. Sounds like it would be good in several spirits to me.
Proposal:
Save lees from a whiskey, brandy, rum or whatever thrills your soul. Rinse lees in water and setlle a few times to remove residual wash. Add cleaned lees to finished spirit either with, without or after oak. See what happens. Wait weeks, months or years based on various wine protocols.

Simplified protocol for testing. Add fresh yeast to a bottle of finished spirit. Wait and see what happens. This where I am. Dumped some dry bread yeast into some rum.

I'm considering adding some yeast to a small jar of white corn during nuking. Wut? Dat sounds whacky.

I've never heard of anything similar, so it is either brilliant or ridiculous. Anybody else want to find out?
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby kiwi Bruce » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:23 pm

:clap: Wow ! This is some crazy sti# ! I have a gal jug of autolysed mead that sat on the lees too long. I might just have to throw this into a sugar wash/low wines and see what comes of it. Good find zapata ! We will see if it's brilliant or ridiculous ! :clap:
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:24 pm

Subscribed! It sounds interesting as to what flavors you can develop. How often are you going to taste it?

Also, until proven otherwise I think it's a brilliant idea!
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby still_stirrin » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:35 pm

...this is blurring the line between beer brewing and aging spirits....

But seriously, I've never enjoyed the flavors introduced by autolysis...it's dry and astringent with a "dusty" quality. Perhaps the cask will filter it positively, but I can't see "aiming" for it....

Just my gut instinct. I could be wrong tho.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:51 am

I was thinking about champagne. How much residue do you see at the bottom of a bottle conditioned one? Just a bit. So I would go with that idea of a small amount per 750ml. Maybe have 4 750ml bottles:

1) 0ml (Control for reference)
2) 1ml (1/4 teaspoon)
3) 5ml (1 teaspoon)
4) 15ml (1 tablespoon) - Cause you have to try something crazy

Make a chart and taste each one every monthly or so? It might taste bad for a while before it gets better. Not sure though. Maybe do 4 more the same way but don't open them until the first 4 are empty.

Other factors you could look at: 40%abv vs 60% or higher.

I think with spirits you'll see some autolysis and some osmotic pressure destroying yeast cells. It would assume it will happen faster than in champagne. Either way you're keeping the enzymes alive.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby zapata » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:21 am

I was thinking the same regarding yeast amounts and champagne. Isn't a fair amount of yeast removed from the bottles though? And other wines sur lie is done in a cask with the full yeast lees, although some do settle the gross lees and oknly keep what remains suspended 24 hours after stirring.

I would expect very fast autolysis from the high proof, and honestly expect most enzymes to be denatured quickly as well.

I do wonder how much yeast strain matters, and if maybe that is why brewers fear autolysis while some wine makers seek it. Montrachet is a chardonay with lots of time on bulk lees. Both champagne and montrachet yeast are widely available.

I started with bakers yeast just because it was in the fridge and handy . Autolysis is discussed in the baking world, but they mean something different and has nothing to do with yeast. In baking it is mixing flour and water before anything else so the flour begins to autolyse, forming gluten and turning some starches into sugars via endogenous enzymes to later feed the yeast. Which is interesting to us, not on topic, but it proves at least some low temp conversion of grain starch without added enzymes or malt.

Another variable I may have introduced is using dry yeast. I imagine yeast cells are full of stuff they make from their feed source. Is whatever the manufacturer grew it on leaving the same stuff inside the cells that a wash fermentation would?

At this point I'm not planning a thorough scientific test. A too strongly flavored test can be diluted to assess, so I won't bother with multiple controlled dosages and I'd rather find a strong contribution than miss a subtle one. I would like to try bakers vs brewers vs wine yeast just to rule out that variable. But for now I'll be happy with simply finding it makes a non horrible flavor contribution and go from there. Testing at this point will probably just be sporadic, make sure it's settled and take a sniff and sip from the top.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby OtisT » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:29 am

Fish On! Actually - Otis On!

I’m subscribing to this thread for sure. Sounds like it has promise.

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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby bilgriss » Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:51 am

Like Kiwi Bruce, I have some old mead which isn't great due to VERY autolysed yeast before bottling. It's been in the basement for a long time, and I think it might be worth the experiment.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:33 am

Great idear! I’ve got a wort clearing w/a couple inches of trub. I’ll rack off to strip and pit low wines back onto trub. Maybe with a spirit run and some oak?

This is thinking outside the bottle :)

Cheers!
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby kiwi Bruce » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:49 am

I was wondering if the yeast "bite" from autolysis / "sur lie" would only be imparted to a wash, and not to the low wine or spirit...time and tests will tell.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:28 am

I've found a protocol to force yeast to autolyse...I'm going to try it first, then I'll keep you posted.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby CatCrap » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:52 pm

Any results from this yet?
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Copperhead road » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:35 am

CatCrap wrote:Any results from this yet?

I was just wondering the same thing, sounds interesting and keen to hear the outcome
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby zapata » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:25 am

No, but thanks for the bump. It's just sitting there for now :)
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby bilgriss » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:17 am

Still waiting for my attention in the basement. I suspect it will be later this year before I'm done enough with other projects to get back on this. I haven't had a weekend in a long time that wasn't already scheduled for me before I got there.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:22 am

https://www.extension.iastate.edu/wine/ ... lysis1.pdf

Interesting, could increase esters:
Proteolysis
The yeast cell contains a wide array of protein degrading enzymes. These enzymes
are mostly located in a vacuole. Upon cell death, the cellular matrix becomes
disorganized and the enzymes come in contact with their substrate. The proteolytic
enzymes hydrolyze peptide bonds and yield protein breakdown products such as
peptides and amino acids.
It should be noted that an increase in amino acid content in the medium (wine) does
not necessarily mean the beginning of the autolytic processes. It has been observed that at
the end of alcoholic fermentation, when the sugars are used up, amino acids located
within the cells are passively released into the wine. This leads to an increase in amino
acid content, but does not involve enzymatic action.
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby der wo » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:36 am

But what converts the amino acids into higher alcohols? Are the enzymes really working also in high abv alcohol?
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:15 am

der wo wrote:But what converts the amino acids into higher alcohols?

Not quite sure what you mean here. I think you meant to say what turns the amino acids and higher alcohols into esters? I would believe Fischer Esterification, albeit slowly. With other Sur Lie process the product takes many months to achieve a good result. You may not have a ton of higher alcohols in a finished product with proper cuts but they can still form with just ethanol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation)#Sur_lie wrote:The effect of the lees during bottle fermentation for at least 18 months on Champagne is considerable.


der wo wrote:Are the enzymes really working also in high abv alcohol?

Probably not: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denaturation_(biochemistry)#Solvents
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby der wo » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:43 am

As I understand it:

After the fermentation the yeast cells get destroyed by their own enzymes. This produces amino acids. And it's known that amino acids are a source of higher alcohols. But this needs yeasts. Yeasts make higher alcohols from amino acids when consuming their nitrogen (but I don't think yeast will do this in a high abv environment). And those higher alcohols will either smell bad or build nice esters with fatty acids (by chemical reaction, also in high abv).

For example the amino acid leucine will transformed by yeast into isoamyl alcohol (fusel alcohol) and then perhaps into isoamyl acetate (banana ester).
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:10 am

Oh - I don't remember about reading about the fusel alcohol production process before. Thanks for that, that's a key point. I remember reading about FAN and it's importance as a nutrient to yeast.

free amino nitrogen (FAN) is defined as the sum of the individual amino acids, ammonium ions, and small peptides (di- and tripeptides) in wort. FAN is an important general measure of these nutrients, which constitute the nitrogen that yeast can assimilate during brewery fermentation.


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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby zapata » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:55 am

Single malt, here is a thread on aminos and fusels:
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=69155&p=7505881#p7505881

I do suspect my current test (yeast dumped into rum) is not likely to yield much similar to true sur lie effects. But I will see when I get around to it.

If I remember, then on my next ferment I will just save a jug of the lees and a bit of wash to age like a wine. Who knows how to use such a thing though... blend into finished spirits? Maybe for a rum or brandy but I dont think autolyzed wash would be good in most whiskies. Add to a future ferment? Probably cant go too wrong with that approach for most any spirit, assuming the sur lie wash doesn't turn to vinegar. Perhaps one day we will all have sur lie pits right next to our dunder pits?

Actually, that does sound like a great idea. I may just make up a 5 gallon carboy of rum wash to ferment and age on its lees for a year or 2 and eventually use it along with fresh wash. A bit of a long game, but not any more absurd than aging a wine at home..
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Re: Whacky yeast aging idea

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:43 am

Ha, thanks Zapata. I apparently wasn't reading that carefully the first time around. :)
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