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Author Replies
WitSok
11/01/08 12:06 AM  
Ambient Ferment
Last year I missed my window based upon the feedback I had from the ambient fermenters on this board. Well, I decided I'll try to inoculate a starter this weekend for an ambient ferment. I'll also give a ambient sourdough starter a try.

If the ambient starter smells/taste promising I'm thinking of brewing a historic Belgian wheat ale to be fermented with this starter.

Cheers, Dan

MarkO
11/01/08 04:33 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Good luck mate! I'm hoping to find the time to get one of the same in this week, too -- turbid mash and all.

I do think the whole window of opportunity is pretty relative, though: I did one in late March this year that is looking and tasting pretty promising.

I have never done a starter, though; what procedures are you considering for that?

WitSok
11/01/08 07:57 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Last year when I was planning to try ambient fermentation, I decided that I'd innoculate a small starter rather than a full batch. I figured that I could check that starter before using it to innoculate a full batch: By checking I mean active fermentation has been observed and make sure it doesn't have an unpleasant phenolic aroma. I hope by doing this, there is less chance of having to dump a full batch.

My process for the starter is pretty simple. I'm starting with a pint a canned wort that I normally use for yeast starters. I oxygenated the wort and poured it into shallow glass baking dish. This gives the starter a shallow depth and large surface area. I believe this should mimic a coolship and provide higher concentration of wild yeast and bacteria in the starter. I've covered the dish with a layer of cheese cloth and place it outside by my apple trees and brambles. I'll let it set open outside for one day. Tomorrow I'll bring the starter inside to a warm location and put it in a closed (airlock) vessel. Once I see signs of activity, I'll incrementally feed it until I'm ready to brew. I'd like to make something similar to the historic Belgian ales that were served during Randy Mosher's presentation at this years NHC. I might through in some candi syrup just to give it some color and add my own twist. I'll probably brew it around November 13th (judging on the 12th).

I also have a sour dough starter outside. 1/2c flour and 1/2c water. This too will set out overnight and I'll bring it inside tomorrow.

OldTree
11/01/08 10:21 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Hey Dan...I think I am going to give an ambient ferment a whirl myself. Still getting a little warm for it down here in StL though (based on the temperature data you posted last year). I'm probably aiming for the end of this month to inoculate.

Cheers,

Augie

WitSok
11/02/08 07:52 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Well we had a light mist last night. It didn't amount to much but I'm thinking it might be helpful to the inoculation process. Mark and Steve, how long does it normally take before you see activity. I'm assuming that it will take at least three days before I notice anthing with the starter. The sourdough has bubbles, but I suspect this is just the action of the lacto thsat naturally occures in the flour.

Good to hear from you Augie! Are you going to be a MUGZ this year? I should have said judging the 15th, brewing the 16th. So what are you thinking to brew for your ambient beer?

Jacob Schenk
11/03/08 02:52 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Can I get a copy of the temp ranges? This is something I'd like to try.
OldTree
11/03/08 03:32 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Here is a link to the thread where Dan posted his temperature data & hypothesis.

http://babblebelt.com/newboard/thread.html?tid=1108752780&th=1187920498&pg=6&tpg=1&add=1

Not sure I will make it up to MUGZ. Another guy and I were talking about possibly making the trip. So, maybe I'll see you there :)

As far a recipe, I think I am going to go with a simple Pilsner-Wheat recipe and do a turbid mash. I haven't set down and worked out exact numbers yet though.

tankdeer
11/03/08 04:12 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
I don't have much details planned out yet, but I will definitely be doing my first ambient this season. Because I live in SoCal, I will probably be waiting until the December-January timeframe in order to get the temps more in-line with what Dan has researched.
Jimbo
11/03/08 05:40 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Good idea, tankdeer. I'd probably go with December as January often has a little 'Indian Summer' for a week or three;)

In a city or outside?

I'm considering doing an ambient ferm myself and really like WitSok's idea of making a starter at the appropriate time and/or location to get some good yeasties going. Much less risk than exposing a whole batch and finding out it's not going to turn out. Should be a good way to screen wild bugs for smells etc. Thanks for the idea, Witsok!

tankdeer
11/04/08 11:23 AM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Jimbo. I live in the city. San Diego to be specific. Unfortunately I don't have convenient access to any orchards or anything like that, so I'm going to just have to give it a shot. I hear Cantillon is not in the "cleanest" part of Brussels and I figure if I can make a beer 1/3 as awesome as their is, I'd be happy. I have a backyard with grass and trees and all that good stuff. So it's not like I'm in a total concrete jungle. :-)

Hadn't yet decided if I'm going the starter route or the whole batch. But I'm leaning towards whole batch. Not sure why. Maybe I'm a little more gung-ho that way. But I figure 2-row is pretty cheap, so it's not a huge loss.

MarkO
11/04/08 04:47 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
"Mark and Steve, how long does it normally take before you see activity."

Dan,

That definitely varies. I remember my first effort started visibly fermenting about a week after two nights in the koelschip, in an October brew, four years ago now.

The ones in the barrels start faster, now that the interior oak is thoroughly saturated with all sorts of life forms.

My more recent attempts have started much more quickly with the bubbling -- which I attribute to a greater concentration of yeasts and bacteria in the brewing area (since I now have 8 of these going in various stages). And the one I did in late spring this year, well after the "season" was over, was visibly fermenting within 24 hours, in a carboy! It also seemed to be affected by pediococcus to a much greater extent than any of my other attempts.

As an aside, I normally try to plan things so that koelschip time occurs during dry weather (not always possible in Oregon), because I've observed increased mold formation from wet weather "innoculations." But actually, I am not sure this is a rational position, because (a) the surface mold does not seem to survive very long, and (b) the two beers I've made that were most seriously affected by surface mold were actually some of the best-tasting upon maturity.

I caught my sourdough starter in the summertime, and recently isolated the saccharomyces (I think) from the lactobacillus to try it out for brewing. It's fast becoming a "house yeast" for non-sour beers.

Good luck!

petec
11/04/08 04:55 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Tankdeer-

Cantillon is certainly not in a 'clean' part of the city. Its located in a more industrial looking area of Brussels. No obvious orchards or anything located immediately next to it.

My last trip there was 2002 though.

Maybe it once was on the outskirts but no longer.....

petec

tankdeer
11/04/08 06:35 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
That's exactly what I've heard. Which gives me hope for a more urban ambient fermentation. :)
WitSok
11/04/08 07:50 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Day 3 and I'm seeing signs in the starter, albeit not the signs I was looking for. Perhaps it was the drizzle based on Mark's observation. I definitely have some spots of white mold and one colony of green mold. There are also several tan colored clusters that appear similar to yeast, extending down below the surface of the wort. I believe Al had given someone advise recently that would suggest mold could be scrapped off. seem like this would be hard to do with the white mold colonies. with respect to the molds, which are more problematic? White, green, black, etc...

Not ready to give up yet!

The sourdough had really expanded by last night. So I divided it this morning and will be baking my first loaf tonight. Left dough to rise all day. I'm expecting it to be tame, as it takes several generation for the flavor to mature. I'm excited that this has taken off so well.

WitSok
11/04/08 08:38 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Well I just tried scoping of the mold. Basically ended up taking pretty much everything off the surface. Starter almost has a dark Karo syrup aroma now. I tried to purge the jar with nitrogen/CO2 blend to try to inhibit any new mold growth. Hopefully it get some good signs soon.
WitSok
11/04/08 09:47 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Below is link to pictures of the starter.

http://www.babblehomebrewers.com/babblewiki/Ambient%20Fermentation.ashx?NoRedirect=1

MarkO
11/05/08 02:47 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Some of that rather looks like yeast, in my nonexpert opinion (the tan, non-fuzzy stuff).
WitSok
11/05/08 08:24 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Yeah, I figure the tan cluster were probably yeast especially since they had a flocculent cluster appearance below the surface of the wort. Unfortunately, the mold seem to entangle the yeast and when I tried to scoop out the mold, than tan groups came too.

Today, I had a layer of foam starting to form. It hasn't completely covered the surface yet but it is getting close. There was just a couple spots of mold that I removed. So it is definitely looking better. Still kind of has that Karo aroma. I'll update the link above in a day or two to show the progress of the starter.

I may try a starter inside later this month. After going back and reviewing Wild Brews, it stressed that the concentration of the critters in air inside is greater than outside. I was expecting the barrel to be the most important indoor factor, but it sounds like indoor air is also a significant player. This certainly matches with Steve basement experience!

WitSok
11/14/08 09:38 AM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Last Saturday I started another pint, but this time inside rather than outside. The wort was placed in a shallow pan in my brewery space were plenty of beer has been spilled and were I keep my keggerator which usually has some beer in the drip tray. I even racked a couple beers when I had the starter open for inoculation.

So far I've had only three mold spots on the indoor starter. For me the outside starter definately worked better.

The outdoor starter formed a pellicle in about 4 days. Some the bubble grew larger over then next week, but now it seems to be subsiding. Doesn't appear to be vigorous enough to ferment a 5 gallon batch.

SteveG
11/14/08 10:15 AM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
>>Doesn't appear to be vigorous enough to ferment a 5 gallon batch.<<

Classic lambic fermentation is not that vigorous (Todd Ashman provided that one once). Ambient fermentation does not look anything like normal, innoculated beer.

WitSok
11/28/08 08:21 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Starting to show pretty good activity now. I'm thinking to brew a Biere Brune de Malines. This is one of the beers from Lacambre's Traite Complet de la Fabrication des Bieres. Randy Mosher used this text for the bases of his presentation at NHC this last summer.

It is described as a dark beer. Normal grain bill is one part oats, two parts wheat, and four parts barley. The barley malt. The barley malt is described as partially air dried, then finished in the kiln. I'm thinking of using Vienna or Munich with a portion of Aromatic and Special B. I might through in 1/2 lb of some sugar too. The beer employees a long boil, similar to Flanders Brown ales. It call for 3 oz good fresh hops per 5 gallons of beer (1 lb per hl).

WitSok
01/02/09 10:01 AM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Well finally got around to brewing the wort which I innoculated with the ambient starter. I forgot to add the Special B and didn't use any additional sugar. So rather than a brune, it hasd a more amber/orange hue. For 5 gallons: 1.5 lbs old fashion oats, 3 lbs flaked wheat, 4 lbs Munich, and 2 lbs Pilsner. 3 oz of Styrian golding at 30 minutes to keep the IBUs from being way too high. Mashed at 140 for 30 miuntes, then 153 for 30 minutes. Mashed out at 168. Since I had a late start, and was low on propane, I did not employ the long boil.

Now for the real reason for the update. The starter didn't really have any off aromas so I was pretty confident. Before I pitched the starter, I pulled a small sample to give it a taste. It had a strong stone fruit flavors, nectarine like, and was slightly tart. Both attributes I liked. However, there was medicinal like phenolics in the finish which I do not care for. Regardless, I went ahead and innoculated the wort with this starter. If the phenolic notes can be restrained, than I'm optimisitic that the beer will be pretty good. I'm expecting a long lag time since it has been about a month since the starter was showning sign of active fermentation. Hopefully all goes well.

Cheers, Dan

danger
01/02/09 01:15 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
what a coincidence, im doing an ambient ferment today as well. will provide details later.
WitSok
01/03/09 06:46 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
I had no visable activity on Friday morning as expected. Went away for a quick trip to to visit some family, came back tonight and the beer is actively fermenting. About 3/4 inch of krausen. Aroma from the airlock is actually pleasent. I'm going to try to update the wiki I had started on this (see link in earlier post), but it is giving me problems today.
danger
01/03/09 08:37 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
so i brewed my wort. originally planned to cover the bucket with some cheese cloth, but decided to hell with it. 5g now sitting on my kitchen table.
WitSok
01/15/09 05:23 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Well, it appears that the wiki I had started for this is forever lost. I recently created a Buzz account and have put the information on a blog there.

http://morebeer.ning.com/profiles/blogs/ambient-spontaneous-wild

OldTree
01/15/09 11:53 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
So I have an ambient ferment doing something in the basement right now. I exposed it 3 days ago, and now I have a milky consistency on the surface. I really wish I would see some signs of a "normal" ferment :) I'm just waiting and seeing though.

Cheers,

Augie

tankdeer
01/16/09 12:36 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
FWIW, I did my first ambient a couple weeks ago. And after nearly 2.5 weeks of lag time, it finally started fermenting. Looks like a normal fermentation now. Should be interesting to see how it turns out. I let it inoculate outdoors for about 28-30 hours or so.
SteveG
01/17/09 12:17 AM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
I've had two ambient ferments come out great (and 2 that came out less than great!), both were on the slow side but looked like a normal - if mild - ferment.
WitSok
02/02/09 08:35 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
I've added an update with my racking notes on my MoreBeer Buzz blog:

http://morebeer.ning.com/profiles/blogs/ambient-spontaneous-wild-1

OldTree, danger, and tankdeer - How are your ambient beers progressing?

OldTree
02/02/09 09:39 PM  
Re: Ambient Ferment
Not much happening with mine. Still some milky, somewhat slimy stuff floating on the top. No signs of fermentation.
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