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Old 06-30-2010, 12:05 AM   #1
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Default Two questions about using wild yeasts

Sorry if these seem like paranoid questions; I don't want to get myself or anybody else sick.

1. I understand when using wild yeasts the first major player will be enterobacteria, which (according to Wild Brews) stays active for 1-2 months. This would not be an issue for a lambic fermented for several months to several years. However, if I catch wild yeasts should I experience any problems consuming a beer brewed with wild yeasts fermented with regular beer timeframes, e.g. 3 weeks primary fermentation and 3 weeks bottle conditioning? I'd rather not brew something that turns out to be a 12oz liquid culture of e.coli and get sick.

2. If I am successful in capturing wild saccharomyces, when I step up the initial culture to create an appropriate pitching volume will I experience new enterobacterial growth before saccharomyces ferment, or will the saccharomyces be able to keep the enterobacteria at bay during fermentation?

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Old 06-30-2010, 11:29 AM   #2
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1. Re-read that section of Wild Brews. I think it says it is basically "dead" after a week or so. There's an often misquoted / mis-represented lambic fermentation schedule floating around on here and online that says it dies out after a week or so, as well. My understanding is that enterobacter love to be from 90 - 100 degrees. If you chill your wort before trying to capture something, that should really help. It won't prevent it but it will help.

ALL that being said, the alcohol and acidity will kill out any enteric bacteria. It is often said but I'll repeat it; beer cannot harbor bad bacteria. Any E. coli present will be a non-issue. They will still contribute flavor if they were active but they won't be alive.

2. You won't have any enterobacter growth. See the second paragraph above. Once the alcohol level goes up, the pH goes down, and you get a very weak beer, enterobacter will be wiped out, i.e. your starter won't even have viable enterobacter. So, if you pitched onto a cake of your wild culture, it won't have any enteric fermentation unless it captures if from the air.

I'll close by saying that if you're just creating a wild "starter" and not trying to sour an entire batch, you'll be fine. Enterobacter will be minimal to non-existant in your actual beer you create from the starter. Any that are there won't be viable. I'll also say that you won't catch a pure sacc strain, a pure lacto strain, or anything else. It will be a lovely mixture of pretty much everything that can live in wort. Just don't expect the first one to be "the" one...

Good luck and I hope that helps.

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Old 06-30-2010, 01:47 PM   #3
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However, if I catch wild yeasts should I experience any problems consuming a beer brewed with wild yeasts fermented with regular beer timeframes, e.g. 3 weeks primary fermentation and 3 weeks bottle conditioning? I'd rather not brew something that turns out to be a 12oz liquid culture of e.coli and get sick.
I don't think it would be a health issue after the first few days (as the previous poster suggested), but I'm not sure how good a spontaneous beer will taste after just a couple weeks.
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:06 PM   #4
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Some wild beer will be good after a few weeks, some won't be.

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Old 06-30-2010, 07:48 PM   #5
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I'll close by saying that if you're just creating a wild "starter" and not trying to sour an entire batch, you'll be fine. Enterobacter will be minimal to non-existant in your actual beer you create from the starter. Any that are there won't be viable. I'll also say that you won't catch a pure sacc strain, a pure lacto strain, or anything else. It will be a lovely mixture of pretty much everything that can live in wort. Just don't expect the first one to be "the" one...

Good luck and I hope that helps.
Thanks, that helps a lot. I read the first part of wild brews and assumed after a week or two the enteric bacteria would be negligible at most, but then there was a chart later on that said they can be active for much longer, but that clarifies it for me.

I'm just creating a wild starter and seeing what kind of fun I can capture. Then I'm going to toss it in a one gallon batch and see what I get. Once the saccharomyces takes hold, should I expect to see krausen similar to a normal beer fermentation?
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:51 PM   #6
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Once the saccharomyces takes hold, should I expect to see krausen similar to a normal beer fermentation?
ALL fermentations are different. However, you should see something similar to any other wort fermentation. Even lactobacillus will ferment similarly to sacc. That said, you may wind up with a "scum" on top but as long as it isn't mold, it is OK... Also, you will have several strains of different things; lactobacillus, sacc, maybe some Brett, and who knows what else. Just don't get discouraged if you don't strike gold with your starter, even after several attempts. It is very hit and miss... And with summer arriving in North America, it is a lot harder to catch something good. Aceotbacter is also pretty common so keep the beer pretty much oxygen free if you don't want to wind up with vinegar but that's a lot further on down the road...
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:12 PM   #7
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The first few days I got something that looked like what some people post as infections and brett fermentations but then it dissolved. Should I expect to possibly see another fermentation after a couple of weeks?

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Old 07-01-2010, 11:54 AM   #8
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You wouldn't really be able to determine if it was a Brett fermentation in a few days. It would look like any other fermentation. I've got 3 or 4 Brett fermentations going now, one totally Brett, and they look pretty much like any Sacch ferment I've seen. What I'd say you saw was a typical layer of "scum" (for lack of a better word) that's present during fermentations. This dropped out and is now part of the trub on the bottom.

It is hard to say what you'll see after a few weeks. Check the gravity. It may be dried out. I've got some sort of super-blend that will ferment pretty much anything on down to 1.000 so it doesn't have any second stage, just a monster of a first one. Then, I've got a Brett-blend that ferments down and then gets a pellicle after a while. I've not done a full ferment with this one so I don't know how low it will be able to get the gravity but it does go through stages.

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