I am super green to the beer world and the world of IHB, but my cousins have welcomed all of my questions about the fermentation process no matter how basic they are. So when our boss-hole Greg used the word flocculate casually in a conversation like everyone knew what it meant I had to interrupt him and ask for the definition. It morphed into a conversation about yeast pitch rate, population growth, and how many generations the yeast continues to keep its potency. /The main takeaway for me was the word and activity of flocculating. Flocculate doesn’t just happen in brewing but its activity during brewing happens while the magical elixir is in one of the most important steps of the process. It’s the part of the fermentation process when yeast comes together in big clumps. It’s sort of a survival mechanism, when less nutrients are available for the yeast to feed off of., the yeast is bonding together to help them all share the available resources. You could say it’s the yeast’s “rising tide lifts all boats” moment, except they end up sinking. Hmm.
This yeasty conversation took place right after our first Eastern Washington Brewfest since before Covid shut all large events and gatherings down. It was my first time both working and being at Brewfest but I could feel the importance of this moment even being a newbie. Microbreweries everywhere are struggling both because of new economic realities but also because drinking beer isn’t as popular as it used to be. There are so many different kinds of alcoholic beverages for people to choose from now and we are all trying to figure out our place in this new landscape. For my part, bringing people together over the love of beer and fermentation is my tiny piece of the puzzle to work on but the part that I think made this Brewfest stand out was when Jake, our head brewer, and Greg started hatching a plan for “Battle of the Brews”. It became a time for local breweries to collaborate but also take part in some fun loving competition pitting the Upper vs. Lower Kittitas County breweries. It was our time to flocculate.
With my bad Mom joke out of the way I want to share Jake’s pov on Eastern Washington Brewfest.
“It was a warm welcome, being back pouring beer at a brewfest. It has been a couple years since we were able to host and man it brought back so much joy being around all those people that love beer. It was a reminder on why I love making beer and being a part of the industry. I was able to speak with my peers from other breweries, exchange knowledge, laugh at moments and nightmares on the production floor, and feel a keen sense of wonderment and excitement. Getting to speak with people outside of the industry who just love beer was also amazing. Showing off the beers you made and explaining the style to a genuinely curious person never gets old! The collaboration aspect was fantastic. Working with other brewers in the local community to spread the magic of fermentation again reminded me why I love this industry. We all got together to make a style of beer and whoever won or lost was not the prize. The prize was working together to pull off a special event and build the blocks for all of us breweries to continue to thrive in a wonderful community!”
It’s time to flocculate
From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog