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Old 10-12-2009, 07:56 PM   #1
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Default Sweetening my "lambic"

Ok, I've searched and read and searched and read all I could about this subject and am now looking for a little clarity in the subject.

About 3 months ago I follow Papazian's recipe for kriek which calls for pitching a lambic blend (duh). Everything is going swimmingly and it's been on 12# cherries now for over 2 months. Now, I know this isn't necessarily a true lambic and I'm not looking to make a years-long project out of it. I'm basically trying this for the SWMBO's sake so she can enjoy something I brew.

That being said, her exposure to "lambic" begins and ends with good old soda-sweet Lindeman's (not knocking it as I too enjoy it from time to time). The problem is what I've got going in the carboy is nowhere near sweet, not even a hint. So to make her happy I'm trying to figure out how I can sweeten and carbonate this thing without making bottle bombs (kegging and force carbonating is not an option at the moment).

I thought I hit on something after reading about using lactose as it is not fermentable by beer yeast. However, I've also read that certain strains of Brett and even lacto bacteria CAN ferment it. Since I've got a Brett/Lacto blend (Wyeast Belgian Lambic Blend 3278) in there I'm now concerned that I'll have issues if I prime normally and add more sugar in the form of lactose.

Does anyone know exactly how effective Brett and lacto actually are at fermenting lactose? Would it be enough to result in bottle bombs? Would it also defeat the purpose of using lactose as a backsweetener if it just ends up being fermented? Lastly, is it even true that they can ferment it?

I have a feeling the only solution may be to boil it to kill everything, add whatever sweetener I want, and get a kegging system to carb it...maybe not a bad excuse to justify the purchasing of more goodies! After all, I'd be doing it to make my SWMBO to be happy...right?

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Old 10-12-2009, 08:30 PM   #2
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You could sweeten it, bottle carbonate it and then gently pasteurize it.
It could change the flavor some but maybe not for the worse.

You could try a test bottle or two to see how well it works out.

Or you could use it as an excuse to getting a kegging system.

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Old 10-12-2009, 08:33 PM   #3
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If you were kegging it, it would be as simple as adding some cherry concentrate to the keg after it has been chilled. While the bugs may attach the new sugar over time, the low temperature would halt it long enough to drink. The other option is to bottle it as is (though 2 months is not really done) and put a 1/2 teaspoon of cherry concentrate into the glass before pouring. This is quite similar to woodruff syrup in a Berliner Weiss. The main advantage is that you can decide whether you want sweet or "real" with every pour. You could even slowly ween your wife off the sweet stuff and she wouldn't even notice it.

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Old 10-12-2009, 09:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BargainFittings View Post
You could sweeten it, bottle carbonate it and then gently pasteurize it.
So you're saying I can pasteurize it in the bottle? Interesting...I hadn't thought about that before (if that's what you're saying) I guess I would gently heat them to the correct temp in a large pot of water?

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Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
The other option is to bottle it as is (though 2 months is not really done) and put a 1/2 teaspoon of cherry concentrate into the glass before pouring.
Also a good idea...for convenience's sake this might be the way to go...

Thanks guys!
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:17 AM   #5
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You can pasteurize in the bottle. Its tricky as you need to get to temp without going over. A good way to regulate is to use a bottle of liquid with a temp probe in it so you know roughly when the others reach temp.

A lid over the pot as you heat would be a good idea in case a bottle lets loose.

Read of about it in BYO or Zymurgy.

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:46 PM   #6
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1 - I would not recommend you ever attempt bottle pasteurization, for one thing at 3mos there is a ton of fermentables in your pLambic and the elevated temp + priming sugar would most likely cause bottle grenades (microbial activity dramatically increases at elevated temps) and the BYO article is talking about COMMERCIAL pasteurization of already filtered/pasteurize beer, on top of that its a beer that is completely fermented out - so no additional CO2 production

2. Lactose is not sweet, put some in water and taste it. The idea that it will add a nice sweetness to a beer is completely wrong, its more of a body booster that also adds its own characteristic flavor

3. Lactobacillus, its called that becasue it will ferment milk sugar aka lactose, so adding lactose will just add additional sugars for the bugs to eat

4. I would not suggest you think about bottling a 3mos old lambic, it doesnt take much to produce bottle grenades (3vols of CO2 is only 3gravity pts). Your best bet would be to cold crash very cold, fine it, then hit it with some campden. You may be OK to bottle then, Ive done this with brett and it is still stable, this doesnt mean it will necessarily work for you. Campden doesnt kill yeast, just knocks it down and eventually it will kick back up.

Honestly I think, as others have mentioned, your best bet is to let this finish out, you need at a bare minimum a few more months, bottle and then add a sugar syrup to taste in the glass

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Old 10-13-2009, 08:54 PM   #7
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Ryane,

Page 37 of Zymurgy volume 32 No 5 Sept/october 2009

An article by Anthony Hayes talking about London Brown ale. The best way to duplicate the sweetness is home pasteurization.

It says the following:

"...the basic idea is to bottle your fermented filtered, carbonated beer, with sucrose added at bottling to the targeted level of sweetness. Then put the bottles in a water bath and raise the temperature at a rate of 1 to 2 C / 1.8 to 3.6 F per minute up to 60 C / 140 F. Hold at 60 C / 140F for 15 to 20 minutes then cool gradually to storage temperatures. Beware of exploding bottles if you get it wrong. "

Not saying it should be done, but it can be done if you use some care. Using a plastic pop bottle as a gauge of fermentation will help you know when to pasteurize the batch.

I personally think that kegging is a better option. The syrup addition at serving is perfectly acceptable too.

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Last edited by BargainFittings; 10-13-2009 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:24 AM   #8
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Well, hmm, guess I was reading the wrong thing

What I dont understand is, if its filtered, AND carbonated, your really just bottling from a keg

In that method It seems to me that you would filter to remove yeast/bugs, then force carb and backsweeten

BUT if your force carbing and your gonna bottle off a keg, you could just backsweeten with K-sorbate, like they do with wine and eliminate the "home pasteurization" step, then you dont have to heed "Beware of exploding bottles if you get it wrong" becaue No additional fermentation will happen that way (make sure to campden 1st, K-sorbate only stops inactive bugs from reawakening)

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:11 AM   #9
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I agree with all of those thoughts. I'm on the fence on how productive it would be. I don't think its necessarily a good idea for most beer styles to try it out.

I've read post about someone on the forum doing it but search is failing me.

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Old 10-14-2009, 04:18 AM   #10
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To me it seems like a pretty dangerous thing to even propose to homebrewers, its one thing if some crazy homebrewer dreamed it up, but having it printed in zymurgy is another. Seems like they could be opening themselves up to issues if someone has "problems" during the pasteurization

Another thing the OP could try to sweeten would be stevia, Im not sure on its fermentability though, although I still recommend that he waits many many more months before bottling

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