Funky Fermentations | Session 1 Reflections


On Saturday, August 3, three brave souls took a trip to the fermentorium for the first session in Helderberg Brewery’s Funky Fermentation Series. This session’s ‘funky’ ingredient was local sourdough bread. For this recipe, I took inspiration from “The Wildcrafting Brewer,” by Pascal Baudar, who creates unique drinks from nature’s ingredients. And from Toast Ale, a Westchester, NY-based social enterprise that believes that there are alternatives for bread waste, beer being one of them. 

We used the sourdough bread to brew a Kvass. Kvass is a traditional Slavic fermented beverage that uses bread as its base, instead of malted grains, such as barley and wheat. Some varieties feature fruit, berries or herbs. It tends to be low in alcohol content, making it a perfect summer thirst quencher. 

At home on the morning of brew day, I cut the bread into cubes and toasted them. Then, at the brewery, added the toasted bread to 150-degree water in the mash tun. After a good soak, we added NYS barley, wheat, oats, rye and spelt to the mash. From there, we transferred the wort into the boil kettle and added some New York State Willamette hops.

Participants were given two-gallon fermenters to bring home some of the beer and watch the fermentation. Each small batch was pitched with a different yeast strain to see how the finished beverages would differ. We look forward to hearing how the final products came out.

Helderberg Brewery has three more funky fermentation sessions planned for 2019 on October 26, November 23 and December 14. Each session will highlight a different ingredient, some of which may be found in your own backyard. Our goal is to help demystify fermentation and brewing, and we welcome participation from all skill levels. At the end of the series we will host a bottle-share where fellow funksters can swap and enjoy the fruits of our fermentations. To sign up for a single session or all three sessions, visit the registration page. For more information, call (518)797-5100.