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07/25/08 05:16 PM  
Culturing question
What techniques have you found work best for culturing bottle dregs?
07/25/08 05:49 PM  
Re: Culturing question
For bretts/bacteria or sacch.?
07/25/08 05:53 PM  
Re: Culturing question
For both really. I've been using sach and bug dregs the same way, but I don't get consistent results. I generally make a .5L starter, add the some yeast nutrient, add the dregs, and see what happens. I live in San Francisco, so the temperature at my house is generally around 68F at all times. I realize the inconsistency can, of course, be attributed to the freshness of the bottles I'm using, but I'm also just wondering if I'm missing something important... ? Thanks.
07/25/08 07:11 PM  
Re: Culturing question
Well, I've only ever cultured dregs containing brett and other bugs (Russian River). But I'd say that your starter size is probably way too big. I'd start closer to 100-200ml and then step that up.
07/25/08 07:14 PM  
Re: Culturing question
That's all I do...I think it just depends on what you're trying to grow. Different bugs from different bottles of beer will act differently. I'm sure often times when culturing bugs it takes quite awhile to notice any action, at those temps I wouldn't be surprised if it took a couple months to notice anything going on for certain dregs...other maybe not. I've done a couple in warm whether and even then it took a couple of weeks to see activity. I don't think it's possible to get real consistant results culturing bugs from random bottles, or even different bottles of the same beer.

I would think it goes the same for sacch.

And that's even before you get into the condition of the yeast or bugs by the time it gets to the consumer...

With that said there are others here who know a lot more than me about how to grow up healthy cultures... I don't do it often.

07/25/08 09:06 PM  
Re: Culturing question
You should try a couple without even using a starter. Just pitch the dregs alone, and see what your results are like. The cult of north american homebrewing expertise will certainly tell you otherwise, but the best luck I have had recently is with not even using a starter.

Seriously. I have a pungently delicious beer fermenting right now, on its 4th month on brettanomyces from the dregs of an Orval, in which I just dumped the dregs of a single bottle of Orval into the beer to be fermented. No starter, high attenuation, zero butterscotch.

I have had great results with pLambics, dumping 3 fonteinen or Cantillon dregs, w/o a starter. These will ferment to completion in a full three years, and taste wonderful (particularly the 3 Fonteinen).

Most recently, a "saison with lots of unmalted rye"-style beer, fermented to perfection with only the dregs from a Blaugies Saison d'Epeautre. That, by the way, is a yeast I would highly recommend, especially if you like dry beers. Shockingly attenuative.

Use no starters. Or at least try it, and see if you like it.

07/25/08 09:32 PM  
Re: Culturing question
I agree...I've just tossed dregs in with good results as well, and it's a hell of a lot less of a hassle...but I've also had good results blending in sour starters to beers....both work and have their own advantages.

Mark, you just pitched in the yeast cake of one bottle of saison and it took off?

07/26/08 01:47 AM  
Re: Culturing question
I was wondering. I am about to rack an all malt Saison using WY3726 which I believe is the Blaugies sacch strain. I am trying to decide what to pitch over it and am considering Orval dregs or willing to listen to suggestions. Do you think if I pitch dregs at this pint it will work? Beer is at 1.008 now. OG 1.065.
07/26/08 02:13 PM  
Re: Culturing question

Re: the dregs of one bottle of saison,

Well, I wouldn't call it "taking off," it was pretty slow to start. But once it got going it went all the way, something like 95% attenuation, and it was still fermenting after a year in the secondary. I made a comparison batch with WY3726, and while there was clearly a family resemblance, both beers had some pretty distinct flavor profiles.


I have no idea what will happen if you throw the Orval dregs in now, I have only tried it once, and did so immediately after chilling, along with Westmalle dregs. I thought that the brettanomyces weren't working, until going to bottle last week, and catching a "whiff of the leather" from the fermenter.

Can't hurt to give it a shot, though. That will be a fairly tough environment for a yeast to take hold in, but if anything can do it, I'd put my money on brettanomyces. It could take a few months before you find out whether it's working.

07/26/08 08:27 PM  
Re: Culturing question
Thanks everyone for your suggestions/advice!! Much appreciated.

07/28/08 11:00 AM  
Re: Culturing question
I too recently fermented a beer to completion with just a tiny bit of yeast (brett from Avery 15). And it tastes very clean at this point.

I have always wondered whether some of the problems with low pitch rates (excess esters, diacetyl, etc) may go away again if the pitch rate is further reduced so that it's almost ridiculously low. With a merely "low" pitch rate, you create a large amount of unhealthy yeast that suddenly stalls out and creates problems. But with a "very low" pitch rate, I wonder whether things are better (though very much delayed). Interesting to hear that others' experience is similar in that regard...

Anyway, my suggestion for someone who just wants to obtain some wild character would be to pitch a small amount of brett (i.e. the dregs of a sour beer) into a beer that is otherwise fermented normally with lots of sacc. That way you're guaranteed a decent beer to start with, and then you can see what happens with the brett over time. Then if you like it, you can just throw dregs of your own bottles into the next batch.

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