Shortly before Christmas we ventured into new territory for our spontaneous fermentation program. Up until now our program has used the wild microbes of our brewery environment to inoculate our wort and ferment our spontaneous beers. However, for some time we have had the idea of using the microbes of other environments to ferment our beer. And so, a month ago, we found ourselves on a water taxi headed for North End on Kapiti Island with a keg of starter wort, a writer and two photographers in tow.
What followed was a wonderful day being hosted by Kapiti Island Nature Tours searching for a spot that would be right to capture the wild yeast and bacteria of the island, taking in some of the history of the island and posing for what felt like millions of photos. Another cool part of the day was the multiple conversations we had with day trippers on the island about wild fermentation and how the air around them was teaming with life.
We ended up finding a perfect spot under a cover of kanuka which resulted in a starter that fermented enthusiastically and gave off some wonderful fruity aromas before we pitched it into a barrel of pale wort. It will be at least a year before the resulting beer gets released and depending on how it develops it will either be released alone or blended with other spontaneous beer for release.
Look out for the next issue of Life and Leisure magazine for a feature on the day and also keep an eye out for an upcoming Crafty Pint feature on spontaneous fermentation in NZ.