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Mad Science experiment #1 Beerique

GreenDragon

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I’ve recently become a little enamored with Burley from playing around with new blends. I like the strength and depth of flavor it brings, but am still learning how to balence it’s alkaline / dry / back of the throat bitting nature. As I was mulling this over the other weekend sipping on a home brew beer I suddenly had the following train of thought: You typically blend some sort of acid with Burley to soften it, .... beer is acidic, ... try making a fermented Burley!

So, I carefully decanted the plug of beer yeast from the bottom of my bottle, mixed it with a 1/2 cup of water and a tablespoon of brown sugar, shook it up well and poured it into a quart mason jar. I then added dry whole leaf burley leaves to the jar until full and added a barely tightened lid. Sure enough within a day I had a bubbling culture of yeast in the jar. I also learned that fermenting tobacco leaves become fizzy and float allowing the juice to be forced out of the jar making a huge @“&$ mess. Note - add a follower to keep the leaves submerged.

After two weeks the fermentation was completed and I took out the leaves and dryed them on a sheet pan. I then filled two virgin cob pipes, one with reg burley and one with beerique. The straight Burley was as expected; harsh and bitey. The beerique, on the other hand, was perfectly smooth and a very enjoyable smoke! It also had a slightly different flavor, which was pleasant, but I don’t know how to describe. I used a Pilsner yeast because that’s what I was drinking at the moment, and so I liken the flavor to that kind of beer. My next attempt will be with an ale yeast as I would love to develop more fruity flavors like those beers. (I did not add any hops, so there is no “beer” taste or aroma, Its more of a bready fermented smell.)

A word of warning - it’s still burley, and like it’s cousin Perique, packs a punch that will quickly sneak up on you!

I consider this experiment a success and look forward to playing with my “beerique” in some new blends.
 

deluxestogie

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On the cutting edge! I cannot recall anyone else in the long history of tobacco writing about a similar experiment. There are tales of adding whiskey to hogsheads of tobacco shipped across the Atlantic, though I view them with skepticism, since tobacco then was worth more in commerce than whiskey, and a packed hogshead is a thousand pounds of damn near solid tobacco. More believable is that whiskey hogsheads, once empty, were subsequently used for shipping tobacco.

Bob
 

davek14

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I’ve recently become a little enamored with Burley from playing around with new blends. I like the strength and depth of flavor it brings, but am still learning how to balence it’s alkaline / dry / back of the throat bitting nature. .

That is exactly where my journey is right now. I started with cigar leaf in a pipe and love Burley now. I add sugar (honey) and often Bright Leaf to eliminate the bite, and my challenge is to add just enough to do so without changing the flavor appreciably. If you add too much sugar it will change the burley taste quite a bit and make it almost bland. Plus, I'm not in love with the burning sugar taste. You would be surprised at how little honey it takes to mellow burley bite while still leaving the flavor intact.

This is a neat process you are playing with. The brown sugar would mellow the bite a lot, and we've all read about alcoholic beverages changing tobacco taste quite a bit as toppings. Plus, the wild card of the fermentation process. This might be interesting.

I make hard cider/apple wine myself. I might just have to experiment with using cider instead of honey and maybe try some sweet wine as well, just for starters.
 

ChinaVoodoo

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Seeing as you're at this process, I was wondering if you could try culturing some WLT Perique in a starter of sterilized unfermented wort. Probably blend the Perique, and stir it in. See if you can get some rapid growth, then put your burley in it.

This study implies that it could be as simple as culturing regular yeast:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817228/
 
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deluxestogie

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Interesting article, CV. It states that, "the carbon source assimilation of Y197-13 differed from that of other P. anomala strains." So the tested strain of Pichia anomala is not one used to make Perique.

Bob
 

GreenDragon

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Seeing as you're at this process, I was wondering if you could try culturing some WLT Perique in a starter of sterilized unfermented wort. Probably blend the Perique, and stir it in. See if you can get some rapid growth, then put your burley in it.

This study implies that it could be as simple as culturing regular yeast:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817228/

Good idea. I've started a culture with a piece of WLT perique. We'll see what happens.

I think that this will produce very different results. One of the reasons I used Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the first experiment was that I was shooting for an acidic end product to naturally tame the Burley, and by using a beer yeast variety I hoped to avoid the "barnyard" odor phase of the real Perique process as my "lab" is my man-cave aka garage. The Perique process is supposed to result in an alkaline end product, or at least the smoke of the Perique is alkaline, which is opposite of most yeast fermentations. The metabolic end products along with the released CO2 gas create carbolic acid, which significantly lowers the pH of the solution. This is an evolutionary advantage to yeasts as they use this to out compete bacteria which (in general) favor an alkaline to neutral solutions.

I suspect that in the true Perique process several alternating phases of bacterial and yeast dominance occur. Also, the observation that my "beerique" did not darken suggests several steps were skipped, or the acidic environment prevented the oxidation that normally produces the dark Perique leaf. I tested the leftover "beer" (which I saved to make toppings with) and got a reading of 4.0 pH. I tested the solution of the Perique culture I just stared with RO water and got a pH of 6.1. More variables to play with! :geek:
 

GreenDragon

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That is exactly where my journey is right now. I started with cigar leaf in a pipe and love Burley now. I add sugar (honey) and often Bright Leaf to eliminate the bite, and my challenge is to add just enough to do so without changing the flavor appreciably. If you add too much sugar it will change the burley taste quite a bit and make it almost bland. Plus, I'm not in love with the burning sugar taste. You would be surprised at how little honey it takes to mellow burley bite while still leaving the flavor intact.

This is a neat process you are playing with. The brown sugar would mellow the bite a lot, and we've all read about alcoholic beverages changing tobacco taste quite a bit as toppings. Plus, the wild card of the fermentation process. This might be interesting.

I make hard cider/apple wine myself. I might just have to experiment with using cider instead of honey and maybe try some sweet wine as well, just for starters.

Thanks Dave! I was betting on the natural fermentation process to leave only a slight amount of residual sugar so as not to over mellow the leaf. I did not detect any burnt sugar flavor on my test bowl, but just a tiny bit of sweet aftertaste every now and then. Also, I think that trying this with cider ingredients would make for some interesting fruit flavors in the tobacco! Give it a try and let us know :)
 

GreenDragon

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On the cutting edge! I cannot recall anyone else in the long history of tobacco writing about a similar experiment. There are tales of adding whiskey to hogsheads of tobacco shipped across the Atlantic, though I view them with skepticism, since tobacco then was worth more in commerce than whiskey, and a packed hogshead is a thousand pounds of damn near solid tobacco. More believable is that whiskey hogsheads, once empty, were subsequently used for shipping tobacco.

Bob

Thank you for your kind words Bob :)

As to adding whiskey to hogsheads, if they actually did do this, I suspect it was just added to the top layer in the barrel where O2 and moisture could seep in through the seam at the lid and lead to mold. I suspect that the barrels used for tobacco could not be made water/air tight as beer/whiskey barrels were due to the need to open and close the top lid.
 

Jitterbugdude

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Interesting experiment. I few years ago I sprayed a yeast mixture ( from making mead) onto some flu cured leaf. I was hoping the sugars in the leaf would feed the yeast and give me a tasty Virginia. I got... nothing. Perhaps the added sugar is the trick?
 

Charly

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Very interesting !
Thanks for sharing your experimentations !
(I have never tried to make my own beers, but it's on my plans) (y)
 

davek14

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Thanks Dave! I was betting on the natural fermentation process to leave only a slight amount of residual sugar so as not to over mellow the leaf. I did not detect any burnt sugar flavor on my test bowl, but just a tiny bit of sweet aftertaste every now and then. Also, I think that trying this with cider ingredients would make for some interesting fruit flavors in the tobacco! Give it a try and let us know :)

Thanks right back. I was wondering how much residual sugar might be in there. Your info on fermentations being acidic and your PH testing was informative. If you ever do it again, maybe you could test the Burley PH before fermentation? This old chart shows around 5.4 for Burley, although not the whole story as ammonia and sugars come into play. I just read the mods and others and try to keep up.

http://www.leffingwell.com/download/Leffingwell - Tobacco production chemistry and technology.pdf

1554069439198.png
 

Moth

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I wonder about a control experiment. How much of the flavour change was due to the yeast / fermentation, and how much was resting / steeping in a sweet wort solution for an extended period?

From what I read, sugars mellow out a smoke.

Lager / Ale yeast don't consume all the sugars in the wort (OK a simplification - there are some complex sugars present in wort they can't consume, and the level of these depends on your mash temps / the temp at which one denatures the alpha/beta analyse enzymes / presence of speciality malts / dextrins etc)

Unsure how you could do a real control - as fermentation vs plain wort would change more than 1 variable (and wort would be naturally inoculated with wild yeast in the air / the leaves themselves and ferment into a sour ale)

Either way I wonder. Is it the fermentation or the wort itself making the positive flavour change?

Thoughts?
 

Moth

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OK rereading this. You used yeast and brown sugar. My thoughts are irrelevant (unless, it's the steeping/some part of the brown sugar is not fermentable which I doubt)
 

GreenDragon

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It was a dark and stormy....day! What do nerds do on such occasions? They play with their nerd toys! :geek:

So, as suggested, I started a culture with a Perique leaf and some sugar solution last weekend. It's taken a full week to obtain visual signs of growth, but the culture jar finally is showing turbidity and a biofilm on the bottom of the glass. I took a sample and made a slide for visual observation. Also, I performed the highly accurate and totally scientific "sniff test" on said culture. It was a complex nose of mushrooms, fruit, and a slight "barnyard" taint. I use the euphemism "barnyard" as other do on the forum as we are polite and abstain from the use of vulgarities such as the much more accurate, but socially objectionable term, "pig s***". (Full disclosure - my uncle was a farmer, and I'm very familiar with this particular odor.) But I digress....

There is obviously a heady brew of multiple microbes having a party in the jar. I have not been able to find a morphological description of P. anamala online, so I cannot confirm visually if it might be present in the culture yet. Yeast have a huge variability in sizes between species. However, based on the slow progression of growth and the "smell", I suspect it is present in the culture. I do not see any S. cerevisiae. Next step is to take some of the culture and attempt to "quick brew" a batch of Perique using some WLT Burley.

Below for your geeky pleasure are the following images. First slide is the Perique culture. Second is the leftover "beer" from the "beerique" batch using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Third is a shot of the culture. Fourth is my nerd setup.

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IMG_0144.jpg

IMG_0145.jpg

IMG_0147.jpg
 

CobGuy

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What is the stain you used in these photos?
The budding yeast in #2 is very nice but, to my mind, the wrong color because I'm used to gram stains.

~Darin
 
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