Extraordinary brewing stories

July 3rd, 2015 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

Ever since I came across Young Master Ales, I kind of knew there was more lingering in the air than just wild yeast…

Tucked in a quiet corner of Mongkok, The Ale Project otherwise known as TAP is a small, very friendly beer place managed by James. Visiting Young Master Ales Brewery in Ap Lei Chau inspired me to create a special pre-fermented malted barley rye sourdough that is being served at TAP in all sorts of menu items ranging from simple bread and dips to delicious sandwiches (Retired Superman being my favorite!).

Pre-fermented malted barley rye sourdough.

Pre-fermented malted barley rye sourdough.

Not long ago, Rohit, the man behind Young Master Ales, reached out to borrow a small ripen portion of our now 10 years old mother dough to test it raw, as it is, in a batch of brewing beer in an old whiskey barrel. What a crazy idea, I loved the thought of it, but really had no idea if it would work out or not. During my last visit to the brewery, I had the chance to try the first batch of the test. I guess the lactic and acetic acids helped a bit on the fermentation process of the beer. I also think the carbohydrates of the flour played a sort of added sugar to the fermenting matters in the batch, but of course, as I only have very little idea about beer, I could just speculate about it. The first result, made on white beer base, wasn’t a massive change of flavor due to the sourdough, but there was definitely a pleasant and noticeable change. On a side note, I would love to try a beer infused with very well baked, toasted dark, almost burnt sourdough, not to ferment, but to infuse the beer… I can just taste it already! After the first test of the sourdough beer, the first large scale batch is being fermented as we speak, but this time on a malted rye base and in old wooden whiskey barrels. Stay tuned for the release date!

Sourdough going in old whiskey barrel to age rye beer! (photo credit: Young Masters Ale Facebook)

Sourdough going in old whiskey barrel to age rye beer! (photo credit: Young Masters Ale Facebook)

During the visit, we came across yet another wonder of brewing: RyoØ 

From a novice beer drinker like me, discovering that such a beer was possible to achieve by simple lacto-fermentation left me with no words. As RyoØ was being poured in a round cognac glasses, I was told that this beer was made to be aged for up to 20 years! The mind started boggling as I grabbed the glass, gave it a few wine-snob swirl before sniffing the essence coming from the dark brown beverage. Malted rye at first, but then could it be possible? A deeply hinted Madeira scent was definitely in the air. First sip taken, what a beautiful feeling it was. Stunning flavors of rye with a beautiful Madeira wine fermentation, giving this beer a dimension I had never met in beer (but “beer” with me here as I am far from being an expert in beer!).


With 11.5% alcohol level, I was told about the fermentation in old whiskey barrel that gave that special deep woody flavor. After having sipped through a bottle with my friends, I made sure my very own bottle would remain sealed and hidden in a dark corner for a very long time. I will remember the depth of this beer in my cognitive memory for a long time and I think it is going to be super interesting to taste the change in time of a beer, or should I say wine, as the brewing master labelled it along the numbered exclusive 798 bottles. I could have thought of so many application for this beer in pastry, bread and cooking, but you know what? Just enjoy this pure wonder of the beer world on its own will give you an unforgettable experience! 

The old whiskey barrels for the fermentation of the rye beer.

The old whiskey barrels for the fermentation of the rye beer.

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4 Responses

  • Geoffrey K W Lee says:

    Wonderful article and mouth-watering! Next time I am back in HK, I will surely try their beers.

  • Janet says:

    Hello Chef, Hope all is well. This is very interesting- as tomorrow I am going to visit someone in my area who is making Rye/Scotch/Whiskey- he is growing all the necessary ingredients on his farm.

    If possible I would love to know a bit more about your bread making whit these products! Interesting.

    Enjoy the rest of your day!


    • greg says:

      Hi Janet,

      That’s awesome, I would love to see/read more about your visit there!
      Basically, look for grains that can be fermented. If you come across malted rye, barley or wheat, ask him if you can get a little from him. Once home, soak it in water and let is ferment for about a week at room temperature. It will go into lacto-fermentation. Sieve it, keep the water to mix it with the flour to create your starter and keep the soaked grain (in the fridge or it will mold) to add into the bread dough once ready!
      This is how I make my malted barley rye sourdough :)

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