In August of 2017 my daughter Dakota was born. Per the recommendation of a friend I decided to brew a lambic to have a special brew around when Dakota is old enough to drink.

The actual brewing took place in March (3-04-18).  The day this was brewed will go down in my memory as the craziest brewday ever.

Temperatures in Xining in early March range from 3-9 degrees C (25-50 degrees F). Great for “coolshipping”. I use quotations because I used three fermentation buckets 6.5 gallon (24.6 L). 

I am not a lambic brewer but my friend Brian is a veritable and self proclaimed encyclopedia on the topic. He recommended everything about this brew. 

Recipe (adjusted to 21 L (5 gallons))

Grain Bill

  • Pilsner (The Swaen) 2.1kg (46%)
  • Unmalted wheat 1.3kg (28%)
  • 2-row malt 600g kg (13%)
  • Buckwheat noodles 600g (13%) *added into the fermentor.


  • Willamette pellets 56g (2oz) at 60 minutes (aged for 3 years in a ziplock bag at room temperature)
  • Saaz pellets 56g (2oz) at 60 minutes (aged in an open Mylar bag for 1 year at fridge temperature) 

Yeast and Stuff

  • Xining Air 
  • Xining Air and Sante Adarius Saison Bernice culture
  • Xining Air plus Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen cultures

Turbid Mash

  • Mashed in for 30 minutes at 62° C (144° F)
  • At 10 minutes into the mash we drew off 10 L (2.6 gallons) and heated that to 80° C (176° F) in a separate pot on the stove. 
  • At 30 minutes we drew off an additional 2 L (.5 gallons) and added it to our side pot at 80° C (176° F) . 
  • At the same time as the above step we bumped out “main mash” up to 72° C (162° F). 
  • At this point my notes fail me. I think we mashed for another 30 minutes. The total length is an hour. 


  • 2 hours  

Notes from Brewday

Brew came off great. Ended up with about 64.3 liters (17 gallons) of wort into three fermentors. Topped up with boiled water the O.G. was 1.040. The end volume of 64.3 liters was after being topped up with boiled water. Added 533 g of buckwheat noodles to each fermentor. Buckets left outside in the yard overnight.

Another pack of buckwheat noodles was added to the fermentors. Total to each was 800 g. Estimated O.G. is 1.048.


I used three bucket fermentors. The wort was left outside in my yard for 24 hours and then was transferred into my basement and sealed. The ambient temperature in my basement was 15° C (59° F). Bugs from the breweries were added a week after the brewday. 


I went to my basement yesterday and pulled three samples, one from each fermentor. The two that had the additional cultures added smelled and tasted like nail polish remover. This flavor and aroma is none other than ethyl acetate. I found the following on the Milk the Funk Wiki

“As far as we are aware, ethyl acetate is not metabolized further by Brettanomyces, and the level of ethyl acetate will not be hydrolized over time (although levels can continue to increase over time with more oxygen oxposure, since oxygen exposure encourages acetic acid synthesis by Brettanomyces and acetic acid bacteria, and acetic acid and ethanol are then metabolized into ethyl acetate by Brettanomyces).”

That pretty much sums it up. Nail polish remover is here to stay. 

The lesson here is even when I am sure I’ve got my fermentors sealed I need be diligent to top up the airlocks and check seals periodically. One of my airlocks was low when I did the tasting. In the future, I am going to use a carboy or keg to age beer.

The pure local bugs beer did not taste like much. It reminds me of straw. I will keep it around and blend it with something. 

Round Two

Once the temperatures drop again I will go back for round two. I’ve still got a good 15 years before Dakota can take down a whole bottle…of beer.  

Comments are welcome! 

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