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Old 05-22-2012, 05:30 AM   #1
sddanc
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Default Lacto starter question

Hey guys,

Working on a second berliner weisse. My first one is still chugging along in primary with wyeast german ale yeast. For that I did a 40 hour full sour mash in my mash tun. Smelled like creamed corn and did not have any foul smell. My second BW attempt is using a lacto starter (1 cup water + 1 cup crushed 2 row kept between 110F and 130F). It has been 2 days and it smells faintly of hot trash. My research is leading me in two different directions; some suggest that once this smell has taken over, lacto did not win and the attempt should be abandoned. Other sources state that the smell should not be indicative of a failed attempt. What do you guys have to say?

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Old 05-22-2012, 12:28 PM   #2
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My research told me once it smells like puke, bail out and start over. BTW, I used a yogurt instead of grain to start mine and it stayed clean smelling. It's still in secondary on a kilo of cherries. After primary was done with a WLP550 cake, the lacto re-emerged. Somehow it survived a 15 minute boil or more likely survived on some spoon or something I was using that wasn't in the boil long enough to sanitize it.

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Old 05-22-2012, 01:44 PM   #3
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Thats the first I've heard of that sour starter method - its just grain in water? Usually people will use a boiled or sterile wort starter (1.030) and throw in a handfull of grain and keep it around 100 -120.
The lacto needs something to feed on, and I don't know what lacto would eat in a cup of water. Seems like you end up with a cup of rotting grain (which is what it sounds like you have).

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Old 05-22-2012, 02:06 PM   #4
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Like bigljd said, lacto needs something to feed on and it's not going to consume a lot of the starch in the grain. So who knows what you have in that water. Dump it.

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Old 05-26-2012, 10:51 PM   #5
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hey guys, back with an update/question

I ended up making a 1L DME starter for about 4oz raw grain with some saran wrap laid over the concoction.

It has been in a sanitized pickle jar covered with foil for the past three days, kept warm.

I checked it today and it smells pretty acidic, none of that garbage smell. I noticed a few large pellicle bubbles pushed the saran wrap up. I figured this is a good sign. . . but the smell is new to me. What kind of smell should I be expecting with this type of lacto starter? My sour mash smelled like clean creamed corn, but this is much different.

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Old 05-26-2012, 11:57 PM   #6
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I have a hard time describing it. It's quite clean smelling tartness, but I smelled the malt more than the sourness. I think you're on the right path this time.

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Old 05-27-2012, 02:08 PM   #7
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The best description of the smell of a lacto starter I've heard of is sour green apple. Sounds like you're on the right track.
When you mash your grain for your recipe, I'd sparge it into the kettle and then bring the wort to a boil for 5-10 minutes. This will kill off all the unknown bugs in the wort. Then cool it to 120ish, drain into a cooler and pitch your starter through a strainer to catch the grains bits (try to limit headspace in the cooler too if you can). Keep it at ~100 for 12-24 hours and then drain it back into the kettle and do your normal wort boil. You should have a nice lacto sour brew.

Note: When you boil it will have a strong, funky, green apple smell coming of it and a lot of white foamy material that won't go away unless you scoop it off. That's normal. If it smells like garbage then something probably went wrong.

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