Wild yeast strains can produce delightfully funky and oddly delicious beers.
But they can also be a pain in the ass -- which Odell Brewing discovered last week when customers reported that some bottles of Hiveranno New American Wild Ale, the latest one-off from the brewery's' Single Serve Series, were flat or almost flat.
As a result, Odell has decided to "hold back the majority of this beer to allow for further bottle conditioning times," according to its website. Customers who bought a flat bottle of this pricey beer -- it sells from around $17 for 22 ounces -- can contact the Fort Collins brewer at email@example.com for a replacement bottle.
The beer is carbonated in the bottle by adding additional wort and yeast, but the yeast, a new strain that was propagated by Odell's brewers themselves, didn't react as quickly as it was supposed to, says brewery spokeswoman Amanda Johnson. "This is the first production beer we have made with it. We're always learning."
Kegs of Hiveranno on tap at local bars, meanwhile, are fine since they can be force carbonated. "Even though this is a small amount of beer, we feel it's important to remain committed to providing everyone with a great experience when drinking this delicious New American Wild Ale," the Odell web site says. "We apologize for the delay, we will keep you updated on when the release will happen and we are confident that when we release the remaining portion of this beer it will be at the proper carbonation levels. Cheers!"
Odell isn't the first brewery to have trouble with wild yeast. In May 2010, Boulder's Avery Brewing recalled all of its bottles of Black Tot, an imperial oatmeal stout aged in run barrels that was part of a series. The beers had some how been infected with a wild yeast - which, while not dangerous -- created a flavor that didn't match the beer.
"We feel we have great quality control measures in place and we are, quite frankly, mystified at the seemingly random bottles of sour Black Tot in the market," Adam Avery wrote in a posting on an online beer forum, in which he apologized and explained the brewery's processes in detail. "In the past two days, we have received bottles back from customers that range from perfectly fine to slightly sour to full on sour. pH on the sour bottles are 4.0 and 4.4 on non-sour. So we have a random infection of an acid producing organism of some sort. Hopefully our lab or an out-sourced lab can give us definitive answers in a few days. Too bad we didn't label it as a black sour as I, along with a few others, actually enjoy it. But as stated earlier, it was not designed as a sour. If you open a bottle expecting an Imperial Oatmeal Stout with rum character, you'd be sadly disappointed with the contents of those random sour bottles."
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And Chicago's Goose Island Brewing -- now owned by Anheuser Busch -- has twice recalled beers, Matilda and Sofie, over the past sixteen months because something went haywire with the wild yeasts they use.
As for Hiveranno, Johnson said the yeast should activate eventually, and advises anyone who has a bottle to store in in a warm environment so that the yeast will start working more quickly.