Understanding and enabling alternative fermentations with Brettanomyces and mixed cultures of microbes falls more in the realm of art than science.

However, there is still a lot of science to be done!

At OverWorks, we have created a high tech lab space which will be run by our in-house microbiologists from the BrewDog quality lab to help us understand all things microbial. The lab team in BrewDog HQ run an incredibly tight ship on beer quality across the road and they’ve been set loose on our cultures to help us understand our new projects in analytics and R&D.

The beers we produce are steeped in history. To take them into the realm of 21st century science and debunk some of the mysteries around wild and sour beer is a weighty responsibility, but our lab team are up to the task. With the level of detail the lab and team provide, and with the help of our dual walk-in incubators we will be able to take a single cell of an isolated strain of yeast from anywhere and grow it to a point where there is enough healthy yeast to include in a production scale fermentation.

One thing we can’t wait to expand on is isolating wild cultures from local flora and seeking to understanding our house mixed cultures as well as conducting experiments with alternative fermentations. Yeast is everywhere, being able to isolate and genetically identify them poses the possibility of discovering previously unknown yeast strains.

A key element will be monitoring yeast’s and microbes’ health, studying attenuation, pH, CO2, types of acids produced and alcohol content in our beers. The lab team will help us understand where we can take these wild organisms, and where they can take us.

These wild ales take time and the nature of OverWorks is the unpredictable joy of Brettanomyces and other microbes. The beers will tell us when they’re ready, not the other way around. With the help of our sour specific lab we will get a much better understanding of how our cultures like to work and when they will be ready to play. Decisions will still be made heavily by tried and tested tasting methods but we will use cutting edge science to understand why we taste what we like.

Stay tuned for more from our lab team debunking some of the mysteries surrounding wild yeast and how you can harness them yourself. Follow @brewdog_quality on Instagram to keep up with the lab team day-to-day.

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