Says Fonta Flora Brewery’s Todd Boera, “When I’m calling a beer ‘Appalachian wild ale,’ I’m talking about mixed-culture fermentation.” Todd says that he is able to create more local beers because he’s willing to work with raw grains. Here he uses 40 percent local raw wheat and local fruit.
Batch size: 5 gallon (19 liters)
6.5 lb (2.9 kg) local Pilsner malt
3 lb (1.4 kg) local raw wheat
A truckload of rice hulls
0.5 oz (14 g) old whole leaf hops (I like 2011 East Kent Golding) at 60 minutes
1.25 oz (35 g) same hops at 20 minutes
Find a blend of funky yeast and souring bacteria that suits your desired profile. Look into East Coast Yeast and Southyeast Labs for interesting mixed-culture options.
Crush the raw wheat as much as possible and add it to the mash tun with lots of rice hulls. Bring this mixture to a boil or add boiling water to break down and hydrate the raw grains. Once this is accomplished, add the remaining crushed malted barley (take strike water temperature into account from the boiled grains in the mash tun).
Mash rest: 30 minutes. Begin vorlauf (recirculation) immediately after the 30-minute rest and vorlauf for 30 minutes, for a total of a 1-hour mash. If possible, heat the mash during vorlauf either with direct flame or by adding boiling water to achieve a mash-out temperature of 164°F (73°C). Begin run off into the kettle and immediately begin boiling in small increments to produce kettle caramelization.
Boil for 90 minutes following the hops schedule.
Conduct primary fermentation with the mixed cultures and follow appropriate temperature specs. Allow the beer to fully attenuate, then transfer to an oak barrel (or onto staves or cubes) for extensive aging.
After 2–6 months of aging in oak (or whenever the desired flavor profile is achieved), transfer the beer off of the oak and into a vessel for receiving fruit. Add fresh local fruit and allow all the sugars to ferment out. Your fruit to gallon ratio depends on the fruit you choose. For a subtle fruit character, stay on the lower side of the ratio. For fruit-juice bombs, you can go a little wild on the ratios, keeping in mind that the fruit can suck up a lot of beer! Our Rhythm Rug is fruited with local fresh strawberries at a rate of 4 lb/gallon (1.8 kg/3.8 l).
After the beer has zero sugar remaining, dose with the same mixed cultures and 1 oz/gallon (25 g/3.8 l) of dextrose. Bottle condition in a warm place for 1–4 months. Pop bottles and enjoy!
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