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Old 07-12-2011, 12:45 PM   #1
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Default Lacto fermentation characteristics

Just brewed my first Berliner Weisse on Sunday. I did about a 66/33 wheat/pils mash, 15 min boil, 5 IBU w/ Hallertauer. OG ~1.030. I aerated w/ my aquarium pump (didn't think about lacto being anaerobic, oh well!) and pitched one tube of White Labs lacto d. around 90*F (no starter). After about 12 hours or so, there was definitely activity - a white foamy krausen started forming on top.. looking surprisingly like the beginnings of any other fermentation. At about 24 hours, there was a swirl of activity, and thick white krausen.. again, looking like most other sach. cer. fermentations. Smelling the airlock, there is definitely some sourdough funk aromas going on, so I'm pretty sure the lacto is doing it's thing. I'm planning on letting it run until later today, pitching WY1007 (German ale yeast) at the 48 hour mark.

I've heard a lot of different stories about lacto fermentations, but I'm curious - how does it typically look when it is fermenting?

I mean the carboy had the typical crazy churning/swirling going on like I had pitched a huge yeast starter. I was not thinking that a lacto d. fermentation would look like this, but again, this was my first sour batch and I have no other experience with lacto/brett/pedio, etc.

I'm not worried at all, more so curious as to what others experience with lacto. I know a lot of people pitch lacto and sach. together, and that would certainly achieve a different result. Anybody out there follow a similar procedure (pitch pure lacto d. first, then sach. later) and can chime in with their observations?

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Old 07-12-2011, 01:19 PM   #2
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When I've done/seen pure lacto ferments the krausen is usually very light and foamy. Since Lacto is smaller and doesn't flocculate as much the krausen doesn't get the thick "yeasty" look in my experience. CO2 is being produced, so the wort/beer does have a similar swirling look.

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Old 07-12-2011, 01:25 PM   #3
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I would say that it was definitely light and foamy. It almost looked like left over Star San foam on top of the wort for the first 18 hours or so, but it was definitely growing.

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Old 07-14-2011, 05:56 AM   #4
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I did just about the exact same thing as you and noticed similar results. With only the lacto, the krausen was much more "fluffy" than anything I've seen previously.

On a semi-related note, I had a sample of mine today and found that it wasn't really sour. I'm kind of confused, as I let the lacto have free reign of the wort for about 36 hours with the heat wrap set on 96 degrees. For as much as it was churning and bubbling, I can't believe that there is so little sourness. Hopefully you experience something different.

Definitely keep us updated with your results if you can.

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Old 07-14-2011, 12:24 PM   #5
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I took a gravity sample on Tuesday after ~48 hours w/ just lacto. I've heard people comment on this before, but the lacto dropped the SG to 1.014ish. The sample tasted.. very lightly sour, and had a nice grainy taste. My understanding is that the sourness takes a while (3-6 months) to get to the right level, building over time (to an extent). I went ahead and pitched WY 1007 as originally intended. It seems to be doing its thing.

So.. I'm guessing that I will have a practically non-alcoholic Berliner Weisse on my hands, as the lacto d. dropped the SG so low (and it is homofermentative, producing only lactic acid)..? Not that this was intended to be any more than 3ish % alcohol anyway, but depending on the results of this brew I may alter when I pitch the lacto next time.

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Old 07-15-2011, 03:17 PM   #6
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This is just my opinion, but there's no way that lacto consumed all of those sugars while only producing lactic acid. My beer is lightly sour and just about fermented out. Maybe this strain makes about 1% lactic acid for every 99% CO2.

Now to put this into perspective, I recently did a sour mash berliner that soured up very nicely after about 72 hours. Here's the kicker: it was very sour, but still tasted like wort.

This is unfortunate because I really don't know where to go next. Maybe I'll do some more experimenting with starters made from crushed grain.

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:07 PM   #7
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I also found a thread on the BN forums that pretty much backs up both of our experiences with commercial lacto d:

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/for...php?f=&t=24718

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
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I bet that theres several things working against you. Im betting somewhere along the line you picked up some yeast, lacto will drop the gravity, but lactic acid has a density near 1018-1020 at fermenation temps, so the fact it dropped to 1014 is curious

But another possibility could be your water, lets say for the sake of argument that it was solely lactobacillus in there, it could be that there is quite a bit of residual alkalinity in your water buffering the effects of the lactic acid produced. Is your water very hard

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:21 PM   #9
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I too considered yeast, but I fermented at 96 degrees for the first 48 hours and there are no off flavors to speak of. It's just not sour. As far as water, I used very soft water that was built from RO.

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Old 07-18-2011, 02:17 PM   #10
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My observations are similar to garbs - fermented @ 90* for first 48 hours, no off-flavors.. so I doubt it is yeast. It tasted surprisingly clean to me, and had an aroma of sourdough bread. My water is naturally very soft w/o treatment, with very low residual alkalinity. I have seen this situation referred to both on HBT and other forums, but there seems to be no consensus as to what is happening... Though Ryane's suggestion is probably on the right track (re: lactic acid density). However, the density of lactic acid will depend on concentration of both lactic acid combined with dissolved sugars as well as temperature, which may help explain why I am seeing 1.014ish. My hydrometer is not perfectly calibrated, but I have taken this into account with my reading. Last I checked, distilled water was reading @ 0.997 - it may have changed since the last I checked.

I guess that I will just give it time, like any other Berliner Weisse needs. I periodically take samples to assess the sourness/tartness, and may end up pitching the dregs of a commercial funk beer if things are not to my liking.

UPDATE: Checked my hydrometer, it is now @ 0.995 with distilled water. I haven't used it since I checked the sample the other day, so I would say really my reading is about 1.016-1.017 ish.

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