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Tom V
10/25/07 10:32 PM  
Berliner Weisse Advice

I've lurked here for quite a while and would like to ask a question.

A few weeks ago I brewed a Berliner. 1.034 OG with 50% pils malt and 50% wheat malt. After chilling, I pitched a pack of Wyeast lacto. A day and a half later I pitched a pack of k97 dry yeast. I just tasted it for the first time and it's not sour enough. It's down to 1.007, so it may be played out. I know I could add lactic acid. Is there another alternative? Can I heat it up (by siting the carboy on an electric blanket) and restart the bugs?

I spent $10 for those damn bugs. I am underwhelmed.

On a related note, has anyone repitched onto a yeast cake with lacto and yeast? Seems like it could be interesting.

10/25/07 11:26 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
I've brewed a lot of Berliner Weisse lately with little luck pitching the Wyeast Lacto straight from the pack. Just as you say, sour, but not sour enough. You could try moving it to warmer temperatures and this has seemed to help in time with those I've done this way. Vinnie from Russian River has given me the tip to make a starter for Lacto and Pedio with 80% malt and 20% apple juice. I have one now in the fermenter using this starter method. The starter went for at least three weeks at 68-70 deg F before pitching it was quite sour then. Remember no O2 with Lacto. Although, it will not take much Lactic Acid to bump up the sourness of the batch you have, if in a keg just dose it a little at a time to taste. Then try another batch. The best luck I've had so far is with a sour wort method. I've also had good results with a sour mash method, but both of these lacked beers lacked clarity. I'm hoping for good results with the Apple juice Lacto Starter. I'll report back on its progress.



10/26/07 07:15 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Tom, we have some great bug guys here who can elaborate on this better than I can, but let me say 3 things.

1. I've tasted many HB Berliners that did not get all that sour. So this is not an unusual thing.

2 and 3, one week is very little time and 1.007 does not sound all that low for a beer that started life at 1.034. Brewing with bacteria is a marathon not a sprint, I'd be amazed if you DID get some result in that time frame. Unless Al comes in and sees things different, I would say find a corner for the thing and be patient for a few months.

10/26/07 10:45 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
My experience with the WY lacto (2 times) is that it doesn't increase sourness significantly once there's substantial ethanol in its environment. This is consistent with what I've read about most lacto strains.

I think most lacto need to be kept in an ethanol-free environment (and maybe warm) to produce significant sourness. However, the two times I've tried that (once with Wyeast at 86F for a week, and once with Mountain High plain yogurt at 78F for a week) I did not get significant sourness either. If someone hits on a foolproof lacto source and fermentation regime, then hopefully they'll post it. If I try again, I'll probably use the dry packs of Yogourmet Yogurt Starter.

But, I think pedio is maybe better. It doesn't care so much about the ethanol, it just takes a while. I think probably the more pedio you have, the faster it goes, so I plan to experiment more with that.

10/26/07 10:49 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Baums, better than pedio, try a monster dose of brett C. as the sole fermentor. Fermented out and sour in a week.
Sean White
10/26/07 03:06 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Wouldn't the carbonic acid after carbonation contribute at least a little to the sharpness of this beer? maybe it just needs more time and high carbonation.
Al B
10/26/07 09:56 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Baums -

<<it doesn't increase sourness significantly once there's substantial ethanol>>

What % has been your experience? I agree that will be a limiting factor. But w/ a Berliner, I'm not so sure 3-4% will inhibit lacto. Then again, I haven't brewed one yet.

I've heard many account of this situation w/ Berliner's. I would say that a Lacto-starter will increase one's chances in developing sourness more so. Perhaps since there is no "slap-pack" to feed and wake-up the varmints, it takes more time to get them going. Freshness works best with bacteria as well as yeast. When you pitch mixed cultures over a few times, the wort gets more sour each time (i.e. Roeselare blend). Lacto likes higher temps (80F or more) but this will also encourage yeast autolysis. Let it sit for awhile.

Also, I wonder if unmalted wheat or a little more dextrin would help. Lacto would break down dextrins.

Al Bacilli

10/27/07 09:43 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
I know I talk about this a good bit...but those darn Fantome dregs have gotten me the most tart beer I've made, and only in 3 months (fermented warm). People mention the lacto being dominant, but I'm not sure that's the major acid contributor in that blend (maybe Al can go into this more I know he's examined the Fantome bugs a bit more closely)...plus, I didn't even culture it - strait out of the bottle the dregs had the power to create a bunch of acid. This was actually in a saison recipe but it turned out more like "double" or "imperial" berliner. I would think if Lacto was the souring culperit in that beer, and I'm sure a smack pack contains more lacto than the entire dregs blend I pitched, that you would get a nice sourness, but everyone is stating that's not the case, which makes me skeptical about the lacto in the dregs. Maybe one of the unidentified bretts contributes to the acity in Fantome dregs? Anyway, if you can find one, grab a Fantome and throw the dregs in the primary with your other yeast for your next Berliner, you might be surprised!
10/27/07 09:47 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
The only thing that's gotten me close to the level of acidity Fantome dregs produced is the WL Sour Blend, which I originally assumed was like the WY blend but it's different. This was in an experimental beer though, which has been sitting for awhile, so i'm not sure how it would react to a low gravity shorter fermentation.
10/29/07 10:08 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Al, the ethanol was 5-6% both times. Like you I've heard many stories about un-sour berliners and other beers when using the Wyeast and other lacto strains. I've never heard the opposite. I agree treating it better should help to some extent, but that's where I start thinking about other options.

Steve your b.c. story is very interesting. I intend to mess around with it soon.

Tom V
10/29/07 07:42 PM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
Has anyone seen results from adding lactobacillus cassules from the health food store?
10/30/07 10:17 AM  
Re: Berliner Weisse Advice
I have heard second-hand of decent sourness attained using acidophilus tablets and have meant to try it because acidophilus seems on the surface to be a pretty ideal strain (homofermentive and not likely to produce many products beyond lactic acid).

Have not tried it but would love to hear about the results of anything you do with it.

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