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Old 07-08-2011, 08:32 PM   #1
jibby
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Default Lambic - to airlock or tinfoil?

I have a question about the role of oxygen in lambic fermentation. Like most homebrewers, I use a glass carboy. In your experience when making a Lambic, do you find that using an airlock produces a better result than just using some tinfoil? I figure that barrels create much more oxidation than an airlocked carboy would provide, but I'm not quite sure what the best choice is.

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Old 07-08-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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I found that the exposure to O2 was good for developing Brett flavors and sourness in the secondary fermentation of my sour beers so far. I used foil once, but it dose not keep fruit flies out well and will lead to an acitobacter infection. if you can try rigging up a stopper with an air filter on it so nothing can sneak in to your beer.

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Old 07-08-2011, 09:42 PM   #3
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My beers sour and get funky just fine with an airlock.

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Old 07-08-2011, 10:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tasq View Post
My beers sour and get funky just fine with an airlock.
agreed. given I have only brewed about 4 sour beers thus far, I wouldn't put foil on my carboy and risk the acetobacter and fruit flies.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:11 PM   #5
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Sure its going to sour with out exposure to O2 in the air, but traditionally these beers are stored in wood that has a level of permeability to the atmosphere that helps to develop a more complex beer.

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Old 07-08-2011, 11:45 PM   #6
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I would hesitate to make a positive correlation between O2 exposure and complexity. O2 is only one of the many factors in the complexity in flavor that comes through long-aging in a barrel. Under homebrewing conditions we need to consider how to keep these various factors in balance as the materiality of it is just not the same.

I would stay on the side of caution and let my beer age with an airlock for an extender period of time. If enough sourness doesn't develop with time then I would consider different ways of cautiously introducing oxygen.

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Old 07-09-2011, 12:43 AM   #7
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the small amounts of 02 that get in are more than enough to make a fine beer, personally I try to minimize the exposure to oxygen, vinegar is nasty, and worse ethyl acetate aka nail polish remover can be produced when brett is exposed to 02

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Old 07-09-2011, 03:06 AM   #8
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From what I understood was that the amount of Acidic acid produced by Brett is minimal even in the presence of O2, most souring comes from Lacto and pediococcus. High levels of acidic acid indicates that acetobacter is present. Also the pellicle layer formed by Brett acts as an O2 barrier as well as protecting the beer from Acetobacter.

From what I have read, Pediococcus will do the majority of the souring for lambic's by producing Lactic but can produce a lot of diacetyl at the same time too. O2 inhibits pedio's growth, so a good balance of O2 in the system will get you a good sour with minimal diacetyl. though with time the brett will clean up the diacetyl, but that can take a long time, at least from my experience.

RJSky, I agree that under the home brewing conditions we need to consider the size of our batches and the limitations of our equipment, but we also need to strive to create a similar environment to how these beers where made. Lambics and other sour beers are a product of a complex interaction between several different micro organisms all influencing eachother over the life of the beer.

Steve Piatz gave a good talk at NHC 2010that gives a good schematic of these interactions.

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Old 07-09-2011, 12:50 PM   #9
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You won't get an acetobacter contamination with foil, most likely you already have one if using a lambic culture. The acetobacter is an aerobic acid producing bacterium. Thus it needs oxygen. Pediococcus and Lactobacillus are microaerobic or damn near anerobic. So As Bsquared said more oxygen will lead to more acetic acid production. By minimizing the oxygen you get a softer lactic acid produced by the other souring bacteria.

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Old 07-09-2011, 02:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
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You won't get an acetobacter contamination with foil, most likely you already have one if using a lambic culture.
this is a good point, that depends on what you pitched you may not know what you might have in there, but my concern with foil is still the fruit flies. I've seen them get in to places I thought where completely sealed off, and lost a 9 month old sour to them...I really don't like fruit flies
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