Celebrating 200 years of Indiana in beer form can be a challenge. But inspiration was literally all around me. I began the hunt for locally grown ingredients with the local hop providers. While I was unable to source locally grown I went with a local provider, Sugar Creek Hops. Then it was time to move on to the next ingredient—the yeast.
I worked with Matt down at Wild Pitch Yeast in Bloomington, located on the IU campus. He met me here at the Brewpub and we discussed the best options for yeast collection. Once that was settled, I began the hunt for yeast samples to take to him. I collected everything I could think of that might have brewer’s yeast attached to it, from pinecones to flowers to strings off grain bags to, you guessed it, cobwebs. Matt was able to work up tasting samples into a simple wort that allowed me to figure out what flavor profile I would want to work with. Wanting to get it ready for the Brewer’s of Indiana Guilds Microbrewfest, I went with the yeast from the cobweb. Don’t worry, no spiders were harmed in the making of this beer. Well, unless they started to drink it some how. Then maybe. Why cobwebs? Well, because, breweries like Cantillon made claims that they left cobwebs up to help with the open fermentation they did or added something to the koelschips they used. So I figured, why not give it a try and see what kind of fun wild yeast might be living on cobwebs. Excited about the possibilities I started thinking about the grain bill.
I have worked with Caleb from Sugar Creek Malt Co. before on a few brews and asked him what he had available. Wanting the yeast to be the star of the show I went with some really nice pale malts I’d used before, Rye and 2 Row Pilsen. I decided to also grab some of the Aleman malt that I hadn’t used before to add just a bit of color. I also added some Smoked Lilac Malt to allow this beer to gain some interesting notes over time.
Back to the hops. I decided to use the Sybilla and Pilgrim to give it a bit of English inspired flare. Bittered with Pilgrim and finished with Sybilla, and then dry hopped with both, this brew turned into a really nice locally made brew.
So what did the flavor profile become out of all this craziness? Well, a wonderful Belgian style pale ale that has this herbal lemony profile from the hops with hints of tropical fruit, banana and pepper from the yeast. The malt allows the profiles of both to play nicely, as a touch of smoky floral notes start to come through as it warms up.
All it needed was a name. Social media helped out. On hearing what I was up to, Tristan Schmid from the Brewer’s of Indiana Guild chimed in at the right moment with a Homer Simpson moment: “Mmm…Cobwebs” was his reaction. And there you have it, though it almost led me to calling it “Spider Pig”, but that might be version two of this locally brewed delight. Definitely keep an eye out for this yeast to make more appearances whenever deemed necessary.