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Old 02-24-2014, 07:18 PM   #1
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Default Vomit\Rotten Cheese smell from Berliner Weisse

About a month ago I did a no boil Berliner Weisse. I pitched lacto on it and let it rock and roll. About 4 weeks later I came back and tossed some dry yeast on it.... I think it was s33. Anyway. About a week later I went to grab a sample and MY GOD does it stink. I nabbed a sample and there was crap floating in it and there is a gross sludge on the surface. I couldn't even bring myself to drink it, it smelled that bad. Question is, WTF should I do? Dump it? Let it ride a little longer? I heard pitching some Brett might help. Anyone else have this issue? I would love to hear about any experience with this gross stink.

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Old 02-24-2014, 07:26 PM   #2
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Sounds like butyric acid. Brett can change it into a great tropical fruity ester, but it'll probably leave enough behind to be annoying. I'd probably dump and start over, but if you don't need the carboy, you could pitch a bunch of strains and let it ride.

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Old 02-25-2014, 04:55 PM   #3
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Dang... that's what I was afraid of. Thanks for the response. BTW great blog, aside from this site your blog is on my frequently visited beer sites.

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Old 02-25-2014, 08:03 PM   #4
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4 weeks was probably too long. most folks seem to get the souring they need in 2 to 4 days.

during the lacto-only fermentation, you need to protect the beer from O2. popular thing to do is to purge the vessel with a heavy gas (CO2, some get all fancy and use a noble gab like argon) and keep it sealed while the lacto does it's thing.

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Old 02-25-2014, 09:06 PM   #5
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I had some butyric in my BW; I aged them on fruit for about 4 months with Brett B; that cleaned up the majority of the cheese; if you know what it smells like, then you can still pick it up, but it's certainly not so strong now that folks don't want to drink it.

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Old 02-25-2014, 09:14 PM   #6
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What causes it (i.e. The butyric acid production)? What can you do to avoid it? I had a hint of it on a sour stout.

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Old 02-25-2014, 09:31 PM   #7
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Some bacteria, including lacto can produce it... not entirely sure what exact conditions produce it. In my first BW, I used a pure lacto strain and I didn't get any. The second brew, I ended up having to pitch some grains since I let me wort get too hot and killed off the pure lacto. This second brew picked up quite a bit of butyric, I aged most of it out on brett.

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Old 02-25-2014, 09:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weezy View Post
What causes it (i.e. The butyric acid production)? What can you do to avoid it? I had a hint of it on a sour stout.
Butyric acid is a by product of anaerobic fermentation typically bacterial, Brettanomyces will convert this to ethyl butyrate, which is a very similar aroma to pineapple/tropical fruit.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Butyric acid is a by product of anaerobic fermentation typically bacterial, Brettanomyces will convert this to ethyl butyrate, which is a very similar aroma to pineapple/tropical fruit.
Interesting note. Anecdotally it seems to be a much bigger issue under aerobic conditions, say a poorly sealed mash tun during a sour mash. Maybe that flavor is actually another compound? Despite the fact that it is only the produced of obligate anaerobes, it is found in kombucha (which is usually exposed to air during fermentation).
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:07 PM   #10
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Maybe that flavor is actually another compound? Despite the fact that it is only the produced of obligate anaerobes, it is found in kombucha (which is usually exposed to air during fermentation).
That is interesting; I don't ever get that smell,aroma from my kombucha either. I don't yet have a microscope, but I'm definitely interested to see what sort of bugs and yeast are in kombucha versus a sour beer.

When I did get butyric in my BW, I would say it was exposed to more O2 than normal. I had been stirring the wort to ensure a uniform heat distribution; this of course introduced more O2 than my first attempt in which I set-it-and-forgot-it for 3 days.

And just recently, I let extra wort from my mash just sit in a closed HDPE bucket for a week on two occasions. Both had soured significantly (pH of 3.6) but zero butyric.
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