Yesterday (June 7th, 2017), the folks at Escarpment Labs were kind enough to invite True Grist to their production facility for a tour and a Q&A period. Around 20 True Grist members arrived to Escarpment Labs and were welcomed with a sample of a very interesting tart pale ale, fermented with Lactobacillus and Kveik in about 24 hours at 40C – a little taste of some of the R&D at Escarpment Labs. Richard Preiss (co-founder of Escarpment Labs) then showed us around, describing their yeast propagation and packaging process, as well as their quality assurance program.

For Q&A, Richard was joined by another Escarpment Labs co-founder, Angus Ross. Many of the questions fielded dealt with collecting wild yeast, and the process of yeast domestication. Isolation of novel yeast strains from the environment for use in mixed fermentations is something that Escarpment Labs has become well known for. Many of us were näive to just how intensive the process of finding a wild yeast suitable for brewing is. As an example, we were told starting from 40 isolates, only one may be found to be suitable after trials of alcohol tolerance, ability to ferment malt sugars, ability to attenuate, favourable character (e.g. not solventy or sulfury), etc! I think everyone walked away from the event with more knowledge and more curiosity about all things yeast. Before we left we picked up some ultra-fresh yeast and lacto pitches that we pre ordered, and had the opportunity to taste a collaboration between Four Winds and Escarpment Labs (not available in Ontario). Delicious and unique.

A huge thanks to Richard Preiss and Angus Ross for the memorable evening! Some pictures below:

 

 

Richard describing some of the quality assurance procedures and fermentation trials which take place in their lab