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Old 12-31-2011, 01:05 PM   #1
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Default Starting sours at lager temps (mid 50s)

My fermentation room is my basement. While the temp is very stable day-by-day, it does vary from a low of about 52-54 in the winter to about 74 in the summer. Each of these extremes are in place for 4-6 weeks it seems.

I am trying to figure out the best time of year to start lambics and flemish reds.

I began fermenting my first lambic towards the end of the summer and while I haven't yet tasted it, both carboys looked to have a successful first fermentation and a thin pellicle has formed, indicating that there is some sort of brett/bacteria activity. One of the carboys was pitched with the Wyeast Lambic Blend and the other was a starter made with the dregs of about 8-10 different sour beers.


I think this is a good time of year to brew this sort of beer, and I'm not terribly worried about the lower temps in the winter. After all, Brussels is not exactly balmy in the winter (which is when lambics are brewed and innoculated) and to my knowledge many of them are not temp controlled at all.

I don't really want to wait until next summer to brew another sour. I think the spring will be fine,as the primary will happen at normal ale temps, and then ramp up in the summer. I do expect some variation between fall lambics and spring lambics, but I am OK with that-- this is what blending is fall.

What about the winter? Can a successful lambic fermentation be kicked off in the mid 50 degrees? What is the minimum temp you'd recommend? Would the same hold true for a beer made with Roselare blend? What about brett beers with no bacteria?

Sour Pour!

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Old 12-31-2011, 01:58 PM   #2
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I have not tried fermenting p-Lambics at lager temperatures, so this is all guess work. I believe the yeast strains included in WY3278 are a Belgian ale strain, a sherry strain, B. lambicus, and B. bruxellensis, all of which perform best at >60F. In the low 50's, you might not have much or any activity, delaying any fermentation until temps increase in spring/summer. I don't believe the bacteria perform very actively at those temps either. I would probably try to get the temperature into the low 60's for those cold months. You are correct that Brussels is chilly in the winter, but Jean van Roy has noted that cold temperatures in his fermentation room have delayed activity by up to 6 months. I believe that was a very cold winter with temperatures close to freezing.

If I am not mistaken, the Roselare blend is very similar to the Lambic blend. All Brett strains give 60F as the low end of their fermentation range.

I don't think you will have any problems, per se, brewing in the winter. You can monitor for fermentation signs, and if activity is very low or nil, perhaps you should have a plan to gently raise the temperature to around 60-62F. Or you can let it go its own course. Temperature control is not typically a luxury Payottenland brewers possess, hence they brew in the cooler months and suspend brewing around 1 May through the end of September.

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Old 12-31-2011, 02:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cervezarara View Post
If I am not mistaken, the Roselare blend is very similar to the Lambic blend. All Brett strains give 60F as the low end of their fermentation range.
I don't have any experience making sours at low temps, but it's definitely easier to raise the temp up than to cool down. Wrap it in an electric blanket or something.

The Roselare blend and Lambic blend from Wyeast contain the exact same organisms just at different ratios.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:15 PM   #4
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have at it and see what happens. They store Lambics and Flanders thru the winter with no ill affects.

Only suggestion I would make is to make sure you have a sacc yeast in there that will ferment at those temperatures, or keep the temperature up for the initial couple of weeks to ensure you have alcohol in the beer to help protect it for the long haul.

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Old 12-31-2011, 03:46 PM   #5
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In the mid 50's you should be fine, like calder said though make sure your sacch strain can ferment there though, I too prefer to start sours this time of they year, as I believe they benefit from the slower start due to the ferm temps

as far as the limits of brett, brett can ferment down into the 40's, this is the biggest reason is can be such a scourge to the wine industry, as it can ruin a wine even at cellar temps

As far as the souring bacteria go, Im not sure about the WY blend, but wild bugs Ive used very easily ferment/sour in the mid 50's, in fact I currently (as of 2days ago) souring a beer with a wild culture Ive grown up and the beer is happily fermenting at about 58F

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Old 12-31-2011, 08:22 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I think will wait until the early spring when the temp is back around 60. I don't want to apply any sort of temp control to my sours-- I reserve that for my ales.

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