Monday, March 5, 2007


After searching all over the web to find out what a young/developing wild yeast pellicle looks like, the best/only photos found were taken of either one fully matured, or shots at the microscopic level. You can find these through by clicking on "culture photos" at The Biohazard Lambic Brewer's Page. So after reading a lot and see these photos, I'm fairly confident that what's growing on my bulk aged Old Ale is in fact a pellicle.

I thought I'd post some photos of the Old Ale's "young" pellicle. And depending on how long it will age, or how the pellicle develops, I may post additional photos.

First, a little background on the Old Ale...

The beer was brewed for "Teach a Friend to Brew Day," on November 5th, 2006. The recipe was formulated using the book "Designing Great Beers." We hit an OG of 1.083, one point above the target. Fermented with a Scottish Ale yeast strain at a relatively cool temperature, it finished clean and fruity at a SG of 1.030. I thought this was a little high, but after doing a little more reading, it looks like that's a fine ending gravity.

This beer is designed to be bulk aged for a long time. In fact, I've extended aging until it looks like its other words...indefinitely? During the brewing of January's Schwartzbier, we cracked open a bottle (the extra volume from primary to secondary). Here's how we describe it's youthful state...

A subtle malty sweetness lends to a fuller fruity sweet flavor. The body is fairly full with a touch of cedar, and a velvety mouthfeel. Effevescent with a light consistent head. A balanced medium hop bitterness carries subtle flavors of tangerine, grapefruit and mint.

The "loose" conception of this old ale is to purposely add to it an overall sense of great age. A number of flavor additions to help build its character will be...Lambic Blend yeast, dry hops, coriander & cardamom spices, perhaps some tangerine & red grapefruit rinds, and a very long aging period (bulk - 6 months, and bottle - 6+ months)...good thing I have a lot of patience! Beyond the Lambic Blend, never did add these additional ingredients.

Additional posts about this beer...

Ancient Ale (what I call this original old ale)
Fresh Old Ale (A fresh batch for blending w/ Ancient Ale)
Tasting Blended Old Ales (Blending Fresh and Ancient Ales)

The wild yeasts in the Wyeast lambic blend is causing the pellicle to form. Check out these photos of early colonization...


Travis said...


I am a big fan of your blog already. I like the purpose of the blog and how well you know your topics.

I have been working in blogger for over a year now and if you have any questions on tech stuff or beer stuff, please post away!

Good luck and I will be reading.


Ben, aka BadBen said...

Damn! Now I have "Pellicle Envy!"

Ted Danyluk said...

Thanks Travis.

Yeah Ben, isn't it great!

Looks like there's a good little community of brewin bloggers. I look forward to keeping in touch.

danrizzotte said...

Well is has been over a year. What was the final outcome? I have a similar situation; kegged 1/2 of a 10g batch & racked the other half. After two months the surface of the brew was solid white! should i dump or continue to age?

Ted Danyluk said...


Actually, it's been over 2 years since brewing the original old ale, which has assumed the name of Ancient Ale. I did write more about the progress of this beer, and just now went back to this post to add their links. Follow them to learn more.

I wrote about the taste of the blended old ales. The taste of the straight/non-blended Ancient Ale has a more singular taste that has a touch more brett character and sourness. Perhaps I'll get around to tasting one again, and write about it. I'm too good at letting them sit in a dark quite place for very long stretches of time. What does your beer taste like?

All I can say is, if you want to bottle it and drink it, then do that. Otherwise, you could let it sit covered in pellicle for as long as you want. You didn't specify whether the kegged portion or the racked was covered in white, but I would imagine drinking the kegged batch should be fine, cause as the beer level drops, the pellicle tends to stick to the sides of the vessel.