The overall goal of this blog is to be a dumping ground for all the things I love about fermentation focusing on beer specifically but touching on all I can think of about fermentation. I am branching out slightly of late doing some sourdough, fermented vegetables, and playing with new yeast strains (Saccharomyces paradoxus to start). About a year ago, I decided that I would branch out even further than I have (or others as far as I know), into the wide world of yeasts and bacteria used in alternative fermentation.

So what does this entail? On the surface, it is making beer. I have gathered about a dozen organisms to start out and my goal is to make a 100% fermented beverage using those organisms. This may not be possible with these species since many have terrible attenutation. In the event that I cannot get a 100% fermented beverage, I will do a secondary fermentation with a saison yeast to finish out the beer. I will sample the beer before and after the Saccharomyces pitch to note what flavors are present and to have a point of reference for the final tasting. This is not a perfect system but I’m hoping to make multiple beverages with these organisms and I have to lay the ground work first. So, what are we going to start with?

Let’s talk about Yeast

Let’s start simple with a few organisms. I’m not going into a huge amount of detail in this post, just a quick introduction on a few of the species I have in house that I’m going to work with.

Yeasts: I have obtained pure cultures of a few different wine “spoilage yeasts.” The species I currently have in hand are Kluyveromyces lactis, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Pichia membranifaciens, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, and Hanseniaspora uvarum.

Bacteria: Zymomonas mobilis.

Feels like Latin class in here yet? You might be wondering, “Why those organisms?”

My “logic” behind this selection is pretty simple. All of those organisms are fermentative yeasts found in the phylogenetic family of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces species, so I know they are closely related. Second, I looked up what each of those organisms were known to do and I think they might make interesting but non-toxic beverages. Basically I’m guessing I won’t get super sick drinking unpasteurized beverages made with these. I’m excited to find out if I’m wrong.

Freshman Biology Refresher

Third, there are a few blogs that mention these organisms but none that I know of that are doing primary fermentation with them, if I’m wrong please let me know. This is going to be a large task, I have a long list of organisms to get through and I want to do a few attempts at each one. I am a microbiologist and I want to bring forth the knowledge of these different organisms.

So where to begin? Good news everyone! I already did a fermentation with Kluyveromyces lactis. While this didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted the fermentation to go, I’m going to write it up and redo it for a future post. I have also started a fermentation using Zymomonas mobilis, so those will be the launching point for these posts. The Kluyveromyces lactis post will be up by the end of the week.


“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” — H. P. Lovecraft



6 thoughts on “Off Beat Yeasts (and Bacteria)

  1. Hello sir, I’ve been reading through your backlog of posts. You post very informative and awesome posts. I appreciate your thorough and complete analysis. I was shocked and amazed that you can ferment hot peppers, I had never though of that before.

    Do you currently brew Kombucha or have you ever brewed it? I have started about 4 months ago brewing it. I’ve also brewed water kefir previously. The kombucha is absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend growing your own culture. It is very easy to do with store-bought kombucha or I could even send you a culture if you are interested.


    1. My sister in law makes kombucha and I recently decided I would do it for the blog and write about the process. Thanks for the suggestion, if you have any tips or resources on kombucha I would love to see them.

      1. Awesome! I can’t recommend it enough. It helps with hangovers too. 😉

        It’s very easy to make, no sanitizing is necessary. I’ll tell you how I make it, and feel free to email me anytime if you have any issues or questions.

        1 gallon batch:
        – Boil 1/2 gallon water
        – Steep 1 qt-sized Lipton Black Tea bag – 5 minutes
        – After water cools to 170ish: Steep 1 qt-sized Lipton Green Tea bag – 3 minutes
        – Stir in 1 cup white sugar
        – Let cool 1/2 hr
        – Add 6 cups cold water (trying to get it to room temp)

        In primary fermentation vessel:
        – Add Scoby
        – Add 2 c reserve kombucha
        – Add tea
        – Fill with to 1 gallon

        Let ferment 10-12 days

        Flavoring (secondary fermentation):
        – Remove Scoby and 2c kombucha
        – Add flavorings
        – Rest 2 days
        – Bottle up or seal in jars
        – Ferment 4-7 days

        Move to refrigeration to slow fermentation. Enjoy! Carbonation will build naturally over time, hence the additional fermentation time.

        My favorite flavor is blueberry ginger. I use 150g frozen blueberries and 30g candied un-crystalized ginger from Trader Joes. I’ve also had good success with raspberries, dried mango and lemon-ginger. OK success with hops, lime, and strawberry. Horrible success with raisins or dried pineapple. do not use. I am on batch 22 & 23 now with 2 gallons going at a time.

        Key points:
        – Very healthy (but may upset stomach if drink way too much from zero)
        – Fermentation vessel needs to get fresh air, rule of thumb is generally as large an opening as vessel is deep
        – Keep fermentation vessel in kitchen or room with some air flow
        – Green or black tea is fine, or a mix of both
        – Tea needs to be cooled to 95* F or less before adding SCOBY
        – Keep flavorings out of primary fermentation
        – Can be tasted at any stage, brew to your preference
        – A SCOBY is not that gross, it is mostly cellulose (plant material/wood)
        – I use a ‘Scoby Hotel’ to increase bacteria to Yeast ratio – see link below

        Basic instructions:

        This is the best site for troubleshooting issues (From the Kombucha master, and the dude who coined the term ‘SCOBY’):

        Overall I find kombucha very forgiving. If you can make beer, this will seem like a breeze to you. Also don’t fight or yell around your SCOBYs. You don’t want to scare the yeasts and bacteria. 😉 Sorry for the wall of text. Cheers!

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