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Old 03-03-2009, 06:23 PM   #1
explosivebeer
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Default Wheat and a Sour Tang

I've heard over the past few years since getting into brewing that wheat can sometimes have or cause a sour tang. I've only brewed one wheat beer in my 60+ batches and didn't have that experience. I don't have *perfect* sanitation procedures but they're pretty good and I've never had a batch go south before.

I know Jamil Z is adamantly opposed to the link between the two. But low and behold, after never having an infection of any kind in all my batches, I brewed a Weizenbock in January and all three fermenters picked up some moderate (carboys) to aggressive (plastic bucket) lactic sourness.

I was actually thinking about souring one of the batches just to see what would happen so this is somewhat serendipitous, although I'd still like to get to the root cause of it. The batch in the plastic bucket had to be tossed since I think the elevated levels of oxygen facilitated the lactobacillus growth past the point of enjoyment.

Does anyone know if there are proteins or other elements in wheat that harbor bugs or somehow are more prone to lacto issues during or after fermentation?

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Old 03-03-2009, 06:47 PM   #2
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Wheat beers have a characteristic tartness to my palate, and I think that's what you are tasting. Have you had any visual indication of a lactobacillus infection?

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:03 PM   #3
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I didn't see anything that would indicate an infection, but the beers have turned decidedly sour after being incredibly rich and balanced and dare-I-say, analogous to Aventinus. Now they're very tart and interesting - still very enjoyable, but in a very different way. The tartness cuts through the rich, complex maltiness.

On a sidenote, I've blended it with rich, roasty stouts and it's been a pretty amazing complement. I guess that's why Guinness has been doing it for so long.

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:14 PM   #4
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I've made a beer out of 100% wheat and it did not have any tang or tart flavors. It has to be some issue with the yeast or possible infection.

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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A little off topic, but is a gouze considered a soured wheat beer?

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewsmith View Post
I've made a beer out of 100% wheat and it did not have any tang or tart flavors. It has to be some issue with the yeast or possible infection.
I know wheat beers don't necessarily have or impart those flavors. But I'm wondering if they have a higher propensity of having them for some reason. Even though I used the same methods that have produced dozens of batches without any infections, it could certainly be a sanitation issue. But I find it odd that it would coincidentally happen with an ingredient that has been purported to produce this very sort of character. Does anyone know the cause behind the correlation?
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:54 PM   #7
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What was your yeast strain? Some of the German wheat yeast strains have a distinct tartness.

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Old 03-03-2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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I used the White Labs Hefe IV yeast for the carboy batches, and part of an abbey ale yeast yeast cake for the plastic bucket batch. A couple weeks after brewing these beers exhibited really nice, complex, malty, dark fruit aromas and flavors without a hint of sourness. Now the sour bite dominates and everything else is in the background.

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What was your yeast strain? Some of the German wheat yeast strains have a distinct tartness.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:33 PM   #9
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I used the White Labs Hefe IV yeast for the carboy batches, and part of an abbey ale yeast yeast cake for the plastic bucket batch. A couple weeks after brewing these beers exhibited really nice, complex, malty, dark fruit aromas and flavors without a hint of sourness. Now the sour bite dominates and everything else is in the background.
If it wasn't there before, but is now, it sounds like an infection to me.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:18 PM   #10
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If it wasn't there before, but is now, it sounds like an infection to me.
That's my thought as well. But one of the carboy batches was kegged and developed a strong tartness to it. The other carboy batch stayed in primary until the other day when I moved it into secondary. It also developed the same sort of character while in primary, although to a slightly lesser extent.

If only the kegged batch turned sour, I'd say it's definitely a keg sanitation issue. But having the other do the same thing in the carboy makes me think otherwise. Having the third batch in the plastic fermenter go REALLY sour/funky (probably with the help of the added oxygen), confirms it was something on the batch level - either my wort got contaminated (possible, but since these beers were so good and rich after a couple weeks of fermentation, somewhat unlikely), or there might be something in the beer itself that has the tendency to promote lactic souring.
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