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Darel Matthews
05/21/07 09:09 PM  
Sour "starter" not sour? (dry stout related)
OK, it's not lambic-related, but I made a dry stout a couple weeks agop and wanted to try adding a touch of sour to it, so I took 1100mL of unpitched, cooled wort and threw in a handful of uncrushed base malt, and left it on top of the fridge for two weeks. It definitely fermented out - but when I racked it off the grains and tasted it, it wasn't sour at all. In fact it tasted like a pretty nice (uncarbonated) dry stout.

Now, I know bug profiles take a good long time to develop, but given this is one of the more popular methods for introducing a lactic twang to a beer, I don't get why it didn't work. Will it sour up later on? Did I get infected by a not-so-wild wild strain? Do I need to leave it sit longer next time?

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Darel

Al B
05/22/07 09:22 AM  
Re: Sour
Darel,

I'm little confused. It was unpitched, but then its fermented out. Fermented brew (fermented by what?!), plus the possibility that a handful of grain may not have that much lactobacilli on it, could delay souring. You could try elevating the temperature (say 80-90F) for another week or two. Good luck.

Al Bacillus

Baums
05/22/07 11:07 AM  
Re: Sour
By "fermented out" I assume you mean either you took a hydrometer reading and it was low, or you tasted it and it was not sweet?

Given how easy it is to try again, I would not wait for the souring bugs to suddenly start doing something. Or rather, I'd let it keep going, but try again at the same time. The following (and also Al's suggestion to keep the temp up) should increase your chances of getting whatever souring bugs are on the grain to take over:

1. Exclude oxygen from the process as much as possible. All the papers I have seen have found that oxygen has a really negative effect on growth in small-scale batches of souring bugs.

2. Excule other critters from the process as much as possible. (Obviously.)

3. Maybe hold the grain/wort mixture at, say, 150F for a few minutes to kill off everything BUT the thermophilic lactobacillus. That temp sounds familiar... in fact you could just take wort straight from the mash tun next time and not boil it. THAT sounds familiar too--from Berliner Weisse.

I have not done this. I have heard firsthand accounts of people doing it, with the results ranging from good to bad. Obviously you are taking your chances with what's on the grain. Killing off the wild yeast with high temps helps, but still some of those higher temp bacteria are good (l. delbrueckii) and some are not (for instance Boon's comments on certain "thermo-bacteria" in Wild Brews).

I *have* tried souring wort with the Wyeast lacto (which is not delbrueckii) at 86F and did not get much sourness. I think oxygen may have been the culprit but who knows. If I were to try making sour wort again, I would use the freeze-dried yogurt cultures available at some Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, etc type stores. Or failing that I'd use yogurt to start it.

(Dirty secret suggestion: the bugs we like are the bugs we like precisely because they produce basically nothing but lactic acid. A bottle of food-grade lactic acid offers less personal satisfaction, but is a 100% effective way of doing the same thing. It's my opinion, somewhat informed and somewhat not, that the whole "lactic acid from organisms tastes better than acid from a bottle" thing has nothing to do with where the lactic acid comes from and everything to do with having brettanomyces around to make some of it into esters.)

Baums

Baums
05/22/07 11:09 AM  
Re: Sour
Also acidophilus is a homofermentive lactobacillus so acidophilus tablets are probably worth trying.
Darel Matthews
05/22/07 06:04 PM  
Re: Sour
Acidophilus? That's a new one to me.

To clear up any confusion - something fermented the starter, something that was carried in on the uncrushed grains I threw in to propagate the lacto. It wasn't sour, no brett notes, it was actually a pretty nice dry stout. Something fermented it out clean.

Baums
05/24/07 10:37 AM  
Re: Sour
Some people take lactobacillus acidophilus tablets, I think to rebuild intestinal flora etc. Anyway they are available at various stores and cottages.

I've heard of them being used, and that the acidophilus did produce lactic acid and did not produce any nasty flavors.

That's pretty amazing that your stout sample was fermented clean. Maybe it's time to buy some lottery tickets.

 
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