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Old 12-30-2009, 04:32 PM   #1
badun
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Default Can I save this by turning it into a sour or lambic?

As discussed in this thread, I recently botched several batches of beer due to poor temperature control during fermentation. One is not yet bottled and is still in the fermenter. It is a Patersbier kit from Northern Brewer and I hate to waste it. It's not gross, it just has a funk to it that it shouldn't. Is it possible to use it as a base for making a sour or lambic beer? I'm willing to stash it away as long as it takes. If so, which bugs should I add?

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Old 12-30-2009, 05:47 PM   #2
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This is a common question.

In theory, yes, you could make a good sour beer from a base beer that was not initially intended to become one. Just like, in theory, you could blindly pick random ingredients for a beer, and have it come out like an awesome pale ale.

But most good sour or wildly-fermented ales undergo very specific processing steps which emphasize specific flavor or aroma characteristics. The misconception is that beer-souring organisms will overcome a flawed brewing approach.

Thoughts:
1. By definition, you can't make a lambic-style beer cuz your grainbill has no wheat.
2. You describe the beer as having a non-intentional "funk". That flaw could have come from a variety of sources (infection, brewing practice, fermentation control, etc.), only a tiny subset of which will lead to good results in a sour beer. (Or you might just not like this beer. Good recipes can conflict with personal tastes.)
3. My suggestion would be to fully define for yourself what is wrong with the beer, then adjust it or blend it to counter-act those negative characteristics.

***Perhaps your evaluation from #3 will lead you to the decision that adding beer-souring or other wild organisms is the best way to "save" this particular beer with this particular flaw. If that turns out to be true, I'd suggest a brettanomyces strain based solely on your grainbill.

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Old 12-30-2009, 07:49 PM   #3
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Thanks, Sixbillionethans. I need to develop my vocabulary for describing funk. I did go through Palmer's trying to find a good description but couldn't find one that truly fit it. I am, however, confident that the off taste is due to poor temperature control. It's a long story but formerly used an indoor closet to store fermenters but had to move to the garage and back porch. All batches fermented there, regardless of style, have that off taste. The exception is one batch of mead made during that time with the same equipment but it was fermented indoors. And it has no funk.

The off taste is relatively mild so I believe I will try a dose of brett.

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:49 PM   #4
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Looking at your post and previous thread a little closer...

Are you saying you fermented in 85 degree F air, and then at nights down to 50?

If that's true, you got ginormous fusel alcohol production (during day) along with some really pissed off yeast (at night)! Fermentation temperature control is arguably the MOST important part of brewing after the ingredients. The reason your mead may have worked out is that wine yeasts are often fermented much warmer so they were able to tolerate that harsh environment.

I'm not sure brett is going to fix that, but maybe you'll luck out.

If you're quoting John Palmer, please read this: http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter8-1-3.html. I would highly recommend you develop some way of maintaining your fermentation temperatures in the desired range for your yeast strain before you make another batch.

Sounds like you're a very new brewer. Good luck in your exploits. It's a great hobby, but does require discipline in process control if you want good results. The good news is that there are tons of resources available.

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Old 12-31-2009, 12:12 PM   #5
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In the link I provided in the first post I described the reason for fermenting outdoors: After too many incidents in the house my wife decided enough was enough and banned me from fermenting indoors. Going forward I will build a fermenting chamber but right now I'm just trying to salvage what I have in the tank.

The mead was successful because I was able to sneak it indoors. It was a 3-gallon batch in a 6-gallon carboy and I knew that because of the less hyper wine yeast I wouldn't have any issues with leakage or the fermenting beer smell that my wife loathes.

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