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Old 04-29-2013, 10:36 AM   #1
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Default Lacto question

Alright, so i have tried to read every thread and blog post i can on brewing with lacto/berliner wiess, and finally felt confident to brew one up yesterday. All went well, i had mad a starter from my white labs vial of lacto d. about a week ago, cold crashed it for about 4 days and pitched it into my 100 degree wort yesterday afternoon. I wrapped it up in blankets/sleeping bags etc. to keep it warm and 18 hours later its still nice and toasty. The airlock is bubbling like crazy.

Here's my question. I was told by white labs that their strain of lacto is heterofermentative, so it is capable of producing alcohol and lactic acid. Since my airlock is going like crazy am i right to assume that at this stage i'm producing alcohol and not lactic acid? if that's the case when am i going to get the souring? It just seem like there is a huge variation in how long these beers take. Some people say they pitch lacto and then yeast a few days later and get awesome sourness in a few weeks, while others say huge starter of lacto, a week of that, then yeast, and it takes 6 months. I was planning on letting this ride out for 3 days then pitching the yeast, but at this rate, i can't imagine there will be too many sugars left for the yeast.

Any ideas?

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Old 04-29-2013, 01:00 PM   #2
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All the airlock tells you is that it's producing co2. You're probably getting both lactic acid and alcohol, too. The only reliable ways to know when you want to add yeast are to check the ph (I use strips, which tend to read high - a meter would be better) or to taste the beer (cheeper and pretty reliable). Generally, souring before adding yeast is faster than souring after yeast. Are you planning on heating or boiling to kill lacto or just letting it go?

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Old 04-29-2013, 01:13 PM   #3
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Took a gravity reading and its at ~1.025 and started at 1.040 I'm cooling it down now and gonna pitch yeast tonight. I might be able to grab a pH meter from work. I'm not going to boil to "lock in" the sourness. After I add the yeast ill keep it in primary for a week then rack to a keg for long term storage. I'd love to have it nice and tart for July 4th weekend.

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Old 05-02-2013, 12:52 PM   #4
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I did a 100% WL Lacto fermented Berliner. Sadly despite not pitching any yeast, the result is only faintly tart. It smells like a lacto-y Berliner, but the taste is similar to an American wheat. I've heard similar complaints from several other people. Not sure what is wrong with their strain. I asked Chris White about it and he didn't have any ideas.

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Old 05-02-2013, 01:06 PM   #5
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From what I've gathered on the subject, and going on my own experience, lacto produces lactic acid anaerobically but in the presence of oxygen the heterolactic will produce ethanol and co2. Yes, Saccharomyces also ferments ethanol anaerobically, but first it must take up a large amount of oxygen to carry it through the anaerobic stage. While I haven't done a Berliner, I have used Lactobacillus in various beers. During the lactic phase, prior to pitching sacc, I don't aerate. After inoculating (which I do by immersing raw grain into the wort), I cover the top of the wort with plastic wrap to block out oxygen. Try this with your next batch: brew, cool, do not aerate, pitch lacto, cover to block oxygen and allow it to run for a while. Afterwards pitch your yeast and let it ferment out.

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Old 05-02-2013, 02:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cluckk View Post
From what I've gathered on the subject, and going on my own experience, lacto produces lactic acid anaerobically but in the presence of oxygen the heterolactic will produce ethanol and co2.
Do you have a source for this?

The reason air is usually excluded from a grain-sourced Lacto fermentation is to reduce the prevalence of unwanted aerobic microbes. I've never read any studies suggesting that limiting oxygen increases lactic acid production.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:38 PM   #7
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Sure,

First: The wiki page for Lactic Acid fermentation says, It is "an anaerobic fermentation reaction."

Second: in http://youtu.be/ohhXiKwYYsg, the host James Spencer (at 3 minutes and 40 seconds), recommends blanketing the wort with CO2, after being inoculated with raw grain, "because Lactobacillus works anaerobically." A screen splash says, "You can also put plastic wrap directly onto the mash."

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Old 05-02-2013, 06:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregkeller View Post
Alright, so i have tried to read every thread and blog post i can on brewing with lacto/berliner wiess, and finally felt confident to brew one up yesterday. All went well, i had mad a starter from my white labs vial of lacto d. about a week ago, cold crashed it for about 4 days and pitched it into my 100 degree wort yesterday afternoon. I wrapped it up in blankets/sleeping bags etc. to keep it warm and 18 hours later its still nice and toasty. The airlock is bubbling like crazy.

Here's my question. I was told by white labs that their strain of lacto is heterofermentative, so it is capable of producing alcohol and lactic acid. Since my airlock is going like crazy am i right to assume that at this stage i'm producing alcohol and not lactic acid? if that's the case when am i going to get the souring? It just seem like there is a huge variation in how long these beers take. Some people say they pitch lacto and then yeast a few days later and get awesome sourness in a few weeks, while others say huge starter of lacto, a week of that, then yeast, and it takes 6 months. I was planning on letting this ride out for 3 days then pitching the yeast, but at this rate, i can't imagine there will be too many sugars left for the yeast.

Any ideas?
I just read this: http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html

ME,,, when it his temps that are in the yeasts range I would cast the yeast....
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cluckk View Post
Sure,

First: The wiki page for Lactic Acid fermentation says, It is "an anaerobic fermentation reaction."

Second: in Basic Brewing Video of 10-31-2012 episode on Berliner Weisse, the host James Spencer (at 3 minutes and 40 seconds), recommends blanketing the wort with CO2, after being inoculated with raw grain, "because Lactobacillus works anaerobically." A screen splash says, "You can also put plastic wrap directly onto the mash."
As I said above, the removal of oxygen is primarily for the detriment of the competing microbes, rather than the benefit for the Lactobacillus. If you've ever done a sour mash without good oxygen control, you'll recognize the smell of rotting garbage (simialr to waiting until the next day to empty your mash tun... yuck!)

It appears that Lactobacillus needs a small amount of oxygen ("All lactic acid producers are micro-aerophilic, that is they require small amounts of oxygen to function."), but that the primary lactic acid production pathway for homofermentabive strains under "Normal conditions required for this [glycolytic] pathway are excess sugar and limited oxygen." The phosphoketolase pathway used by heterofermentative strains doesn't require oxygen either though.

Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/x0560e/x0560e10.htm

Oddly Lactobacillus delbrueckii (sold by White Labs) is listed as homofermentabive, while the Wyeast L. brevis strain is listed as heterofermentative. In my experience the White Labs culture produces much more carbon dioxide than the Wyeast strain.

None of this really answers the original question though, I'm not sure what happens or what is produced when the various Lactobacillus strains are grown under aerobic conditions. With brewer's yeast for example we know that it respires when aerated, not producing alcohol, but under anaerobic conditions it ferments (resulting in much less energy production).

Anybody else?

Edit: From what I'm reading Lactobacillus is "aerotolerant" which means they "cannot use oxygen for growth, but tolerate the presence of it." Which supports what I originally thought, that oxygen really doesn't change what Lactobacillus does.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:05 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info.

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