Today more than ever, brewers understand the importance of yeast and good fermentation practices, but for the average drinker, that part of the process is still pretty invisible. It’s much more difficult to understand and parse out than the aroma profile of a certain hop varietal or the flavor and color you get from this color crystal malt. Yet, yeast plays perhaps the most important role for us over-achieving drinkers — it’s responsible for converting sugar to precious alcohol (and creating carbon dioxide in the fermentation stage).
Being a living organism, yeast can come from a variety of wonderful and strange places (say belly buttons). When Blackberry Farm Brewery wanted to tell the story of its native family of ales, it wanted to feature native wild yeasts harvested from across Blackberry Farm’s 4,200 protected acres at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains. Rad idea, right?
These yeast strains have been carefully gathered and maintained for Blackberry Farm Brewery by SouthYeast Labs and reflect the local micro-flora unique to Blackberry Farm’s location in the mountains of East Tennessee. From the press release:
“We are excited to share these beers that begin to tell the story of place and terroir,” said Chief Fermentation Officer Roy Milner. “Native yeasts, inspiration from ingredients and experiences of living in the foothills give these bottlings a special place in our portfolio. Blackberry Rye shows off a fruit we use often, a grain frequently found in whiskey and yeast harvested from honeysuckle that borders our orchards. Tennessee Cream Ale is a complex and delicate journey through corn and how the soft, sweet flavors add nuance to our style of brewing.”
What are these beers all about?
Blackberry Rye was brewed with select heritage barley and rye malts and fermented with a wild strain of native yeast harvested from honeysuckle blossoms found at Blackberry Farm. A secondary fermentation with blackberries and additional aging in Tennessee whiskey barrels lends accents of dark fruit and oak to this medium-bodied ale’s malty profile.
Tennessee Cream Ale is light golden in color, brewed flaked with corn and heirloom grits and fermented with a wild strain of native yeast from the farm for a delicately malty body with a hint of corn sweetness and a crisp, refreshing finish.
In addition to Blackberry Rye and Tennessee Cream Ale, the Blackberry Farm Brewery will release two other beers in this category including Buckwheat Strawberry (August) and Roasted Cherry Stout (October).