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SteveG
11/22/05 07:40 AM  
Fermenting will only ambient yeast
No pitching any commercial yeast!

I finally got around to sampling from a carboy I purposely ignored for 2+ years. I got on this kick in 2003 of making beer without pitching yeast, instead using ambient micro organisms. My first attempt was OK, actually it was great for a little while then acetic acids began to build and it turned overly vinegary. I had added about 10 lbs of freshly picked pie cherries to it, if you like a vinegary beer you it is passable but in a general sense I think of it as a failure. But a couple months after brewing that I made another. This one happened after the hot season had subsided (November) and I guess the bugs that like to make salad dressing had moved on.

This beer is sort of lambic-like but in a pretty mild way. It has a sort of peachy character, a hint of funkiness and is pretty dry. There are pellicle remains floating still but the surface is far from covered. I think a lot of this suggests a strong Brettanomyces presence, so my plan is to keg the batch pretty soon. I'm going to experiment with adding a small amount of the first beer, a hint of cherry and a bit of vinegar might be a nice thing here. But we'll see, after a 2 year investment I plan to be pretty sure about any blending effort before tainting 5 gallons. I plan to force carbonate and bottle from the keg. I'm not all that trusting of beer with this kind of profile when it comes to bottle conditioning, I think you have to REALLY know what you're doing to avoid making glass grenages.

But there it is, wort opened to my basement air for fermentation in lieu of pitching yeast that resulted in beer that I think will be good!

N8
11/22/05 01:37 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
That sounds pretty interesting. Kind of like some little experiments I've done. Except that I just left the hydrometer tube of wort sitting out for several months. Some times it would have a nice brett character. Others it was just plain foul. All in good fun experimenting, though.
Jim Keaveney
11/22/05 04:34 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
Interesting. Did you primary in a carboy? I think I would end up with a lot of dog hair if I tried an open fermentation.
SteveG
11/22/05 05:56 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
<<Interesting. Did you primary in a carboy?>>

No, I used a wider than average plastic bucket with a few layers of cheese cloth over the top. Enough to thwart bugs and cat hair but not micro-types. After month or six weeks it went into a carboy, has been there since.

Now I'm kicking around the idea od underpriming, adding a little new yeast and bottle conditioning.

Andrew Weiss
12/20/05 08:39 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
One thing I might think would do some good for people who want to do ambient fermentation in hot weather or in hot climates is to have an extra large (or extra entirely) brew chamber. This would be a modified chest freezer designed for brewing temperatures that both heats and cools. Take one of these and line it with a wooden box. A porous wood would work well or even cork line the thing. Ferment an innoculated batch or 3 making sure you spill every now and then a few drops and don't clean the wood. Instant belgian cellar in a box. Then begin doing completely open ferments.

Of course maybe the idea simply won't work.

SteveG
12/21/05 07:07 AM  
Be careful of heat
There is a reason Belgian labmic makers discontinue production in April and start up again in the fall. Warm weather invites aectic bacteria. I learned that lesson from my first ambient beer. Shockingly good after 2 months, vinager after 4. And once you go salad dressing you don't go back.
Andrew Weiss
12/21/05 12:58 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
<<There is a reason Belgian labmic makers discontinue production in April and start up again in the fall. Warm weather invites aectic bacteria. I learned that lesson from my first ambient beer. Shockingly good after 2 months, vinager after 4. And once you go salad dressing you don't go back.>>

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of places that never have cold weather in the Winter so acetobacter might be present all year, then again in a desert perhaps that isn't the case (like AZ). Of course you could make your portable Belgian lambic cellar with your inoculation beers in a cold place or not, but you could flush with Nitrogen prior to exposing your beer to critters. That way you'd have an anaerobic atmosphere right from the start. The only thing I might be afraid of in that case would be clostridium botulinum, but I don't think you'd be anaerobic enough for that. You could just replace the atmo with an air mix guaranteed to be free from the ambient in your neighborhood.

SteveG
12/21/05 02:00 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
If you move to the desert buy your bugs, it is hard to imagine ambient fermentation working. But innoculating will, Jim Liddil proved that.
Frank R
12/31/05 09:23 PM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
If you plan on blending some of the "vinegar" beer with the good one add 1/8tsp of sodium metabisulfite to the "vinegar" beer a 2-4 days before blending. This should kill the micro-organisms that are causing the sour taste. That would/should leave you with a clean-sour beer.

Cheers!

SteveG
01/03/06 09:44 AM  
Re: Fermenting will only ambient yeast
OK, the metabisulfite is in and the acetic little bastards should start dropping like flys! Thanks Frank, always great to have a former brew shop owner lend their 2 cents. I'll send you a bottle when we are blended and carbonated. Steve
 
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