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02/10/08 03:40 PM  
Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
Hi all,

I am interested in brewing a mildly funky beer, but don't have the spare equipment/time.

Do you think that it would it be safe if I sparge, leave the unboiled wort in my brew pot for a couple of days so that it gets mildly funky and then boil/add hops etc?

I'm hoping nothing too nasty will live in the wort and that boiling for 1+ hours will then kill any wild yeasts/bugs so that I don't have to worry about having seperate fermenters for wild beers.

What are your thoughts?

02/10/08 08:20 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
Just to clarify - I'm aware that ambient fermentation occurs safely on a commercial and home brew level, but from what I know it occurs after the wort has been boiled and it has hops in it (which have anti-bacterial properties).

Therefore my two questions are-

1. Is ambient fermentation of "extracted malt" (prior to boiling with hops) safe?

2. Will the hour+ boil kill all the wild yeasts/bugs in the brew kettle so that I don't have to worry about maintaining seperate plastic fermenters?

02/10/08 08:44 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
Hi Glenn -

The more experienced ambient / wild brewers here will no doubr be able to chime in with a more detailed response. However, based on my own efforts and what I've read and heard here I'd say that what you propose is entirely safe, and the boil will kill off any critters.

The method your describing is I think common for the creation of a 'sour' mash (though perhaps not quite as long as you are proposing). Still given the much longer time that the bug producers of 'funk' (brett, pedio, etc.) take to do their thing, I don't think you'll have any significant contribution from them. I believe that most of the effect you will see would come from lactic acid bacteria and that a mild sourness is all that could be expected.

02/10/08 08:53 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
I can't really speak to the entirety of your questions, but an unboiled all-grain mash will almost certainly begin to ferment within 24-hours -- there are plenty of resident bacteria in grains of malt, including lactobacillus.

I did something similar once with the second runnings of a turbid mash, but did not boil afterwards, just let it ferment out naturally for a lengthy period. The resulting brew was undrinkable (tasted like dried mushrooms).

Your hour + boil step will definitely kill off anything in there, though. If you have Papazian's "New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" handy, he describes a somewhat similar process in an appendix on sour mashing, if I remember correctly.

02/11/08 11:17 AM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
I have done sour mashes similar to what you propose a couple of times with mixed results. However, I did inoculate both with a handful of cracked, un-mashed grain (for lactobacillus). I left one for ~36 hours and one for ~18 hours. After that time both were boiled, mildly hopped, and both had fruit added. I can say that after the sour mash they both smelled terrible. It was quite unpleasant to stand over the boiling wort. However, when all was said and done the 36 hour one was fantastic; similar to a Berliner Weisse. The other one didn't turn out quite so well. I have yet to figure out why. I think it just has to do with the variance of these types of procedures.

So, give it a whirl if you like. My experience is that you'd have a 50/50 chance of it being good or not. But having only done two, it's not the most accurate ratio. However, as said. The boil will most certainly kill off any bugs that got in your wort.

02/11/08 01:45 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
I had re-visited "New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" a couple of months ago and found the "sour-mash" procedure described interesting.

A few weeks ago I decided to give it a try. I mashed about 750gr of Munich I had laing around for a while in about 2 liters of water and left the mesh in a covered jar inside a closet(temp was 14C-22C). For the first 3 days nothing much changed(maybe because I forgot to "inoculate" with un-mashed grain as mentioned) on the 4th day it started to smell a bit off and by the 6th day it smelled like someone got sick after eating rotten goat. It smelled bad enough that I decided not to use it in the batch I had planned and instead brewed another beer with some stuff I had laying around for a while.

18 liter batch

40% Pils

30% Malted Wheat

10% Flaked Oats

20% some pale sugar

and pitched some dry yeast(Safbrew T-58)

I tasted it while transferring to secondary, It was just slightly tart and did have an almost indistinguishable "funk" but this could be from the yeast which I haven't tried before. I think I would give another go with a larger portion of the grain bill used in the actual "sour-mash" but still it is no replacement for any sort of fermentation with "bugs".

02/11/08 08:23 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
Hi all. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Looks like using a portion of the grain for a sour mash is the way to go. I'll do a bit more research before I attempt it.

Thanks again.

02/12/08 05:45 PM  
Re: Short term exposure to ambient yeasts/bugs
<<Hi all. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Looks like using a portion of the grain for a sour mash is the way to go. I'll do a bit more research before I attempt it.>>

Just to clarify, I soured my entire wort after sparging and collecting my pre-boil volume. Honestly, I was afraid to sour-mash in my MLT cooler as I didn't want it to permanently smell like "got sick after eating rotten goat", as it was so eloquently put. :D

I can attest though that this was not overly sour, the one that came out had a nice balance too it with the sour.

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