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Old 10-10-2013, 01:12 AM   #1
Oct 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 10
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It seems that there is a lot of discussion in the sour beer community on lactobacillus and specifically the strains sold by White Labs and Wyeast. Many people report lackluster results in trying to use these strains on their own to produce styles such as berliner weisse, claiming that there just isn't enough sourness produced by some of these pure lacto cultures. In addition, many people make claims that if you get into the neighborhood of ~8-10 IBUs that lacto is basically useless since it is a gram positive bacteria. On the other hand many people seem to praise pedio due to its high souring potential and its relatively high tolerance to IBUs and alcohol levels. Obviously pedio has some issues with ropiness and diacetyl but these issues can be overcome by pitching Brett in conjunction.

Given this information it seems like many brewers would just give up on lacto and pitch only pedio (in addition to various strains of Brett) if they are trying to make sours using a mix of pure cultures. However, it seems like many of the best sour beer experts continue to add lacto to their sour concoctions. Some examples include the recent facebook post by Al of East Coast Yeast claiming that the latest Bug County release will have two strains of lacto in addition to pedio, as well as Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River who seems to brew some sours with a pretty controlled methodology in which he pitches a standard S. Cerevisiae strain, followed by Brett, and then later Lacto and Pedio in conjunction (I tried to find a written reference for this, but I think I might have heard it on a video or podcast with Vinnie). Do you think that these sources are just using more aggressive strains of lacto compared to WL and Wyeast? Is there another reason that I am missing that would make pitching lacto in conjunction with pedio a productive endeavor, especially in beers in the 15-25 IBU range?

I have recently started to collect various sour dregs as well as some pure cultures of Brett from WL and Wyeast or 100% Brett sources like Crooked Stave. I bought some Wyeast pedio, but I have been debating on keeping a lacto culture around as well. Any advice or anecdotal experience you can provide would be much appreciated.


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Old 10-10-2013, 01:16 AM   #2
Nov 2012
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Not enough experience here to give any kind of input or recommendation, but I WILL say....

...what a thought-out, well-researched post with clear questions for one of your first.

Cheers to that!

(plus I get subscribed to the thread )
:: St. Pug ::

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Old 10-10-2013, 01:34 AM   #3
Sep 2011
Corona, ca
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Interested in this as well. Sub'd

Old 10-10-2013, 02:36 AM   #4
Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by philiphirz View Post well as Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River who seems to brew some sours with a pretty controlled methodology in which he pitches a standard S. Cerevisiae strain, followed by Brett, and then later Lacto and Pedio in conjunction (I tried to find a written reference for this, but I think I might have heard it on a video or podcast with Vinnie)...
You are correct. Vinnie stated this on The Sunday Session of The Brewing Network titled "Meltdown and Sour Beer" on 07-07-2007, I believe the talk was originally from the NHC. He pitches lacto + pedio but says he likes pedio better (but must be used with brett for the diacetyl).

I was always curious about the poor outcomes with pure lacto cultures for berliner weisses, doesn't seem like it makes sense, but many HBTers have said they get better results with a handful of grain.

Wish I had something more to add, but definitely an interesting observation
A New England farmhouse homebrewery founded with foraged yeast

Old 10-10-2013, 05:48 PM   #5
Feb 2010
Philadelphia, Pa
Posts: 75
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Easy answers for problems people are having.
  • Lacto doesn't grow in wort about 8-10 IBU - don't use hops
  • Not sour enough - grow up your lacto and make sure it's ripping before adding it to beer. Yogurt is plenty sour. Also, try repitching your lacto/yeast slurry. IME it's much better the second or third time around once you get favorable lacto numbers
  • Pedio can get more sour - yes but at the cost of time: to get rid of the ropiness and diacetyl often takes 6 months with Brett and then you have funky brett flavors in a beer that should be cleanly sour

Old 10-10-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
Aug 2012
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Wyeast lacto works great. The 10 IBU 'rule' is BS.
The only thing worse than dumping beer is serving beer you should have dumped.

Old 10-10-2013, 11:32 PM   #7
Oct 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 10
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I figure the best way to answer this question is to do some experimentation on my own to decide what sort of a difference Lactobacillus makes. Unfortunately with sours this is a long term proposition. That is why I am hoping that some other folks on the forum have already done this sort of experimentation.

I bought some Wyeast Lactobacillus this afternoon at my LHBS. I also started a pair of homegrown Lactobacillus cultures from some raw grains, one was made with 2 Tbsp of Dingeman Pilsner and the other was made with 2 Tbsp of Weyermann acidulated malt. I don't know if there will be any difference between the two, but since I had both lying around I figured what the heck. The grain starters and the Lactobacillus culture were added to sterile 1.025 wort in pint jars. The various lacto cultures as well as my pedio culture were all placed in my temp chamber at 90 F in an attempt to hasten the bacterial growth.

I will evaluate the starters individually for taste, smell, and acidity. In addition, I am planning to make some Berliner Weiss soon so I will likely make a split batch with the various lacto cultures if the starters show promise. I will also have to try a split sour batch using the Vinnie method, one with pedio only and one with lacto+pedio. It will probably take a year or more, but I will try to report back with my results.

Hopefully others will still chime in with additional information or experimental results.


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Old 10-11-2013, 08:12 PM   #8
Feb 2012
Madison, WI
Posts: 197
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Brewers keep using lacto because its the best souring bacteria for quick brews. Pedio produces diacetyl that requires Brett and time to clean up. Pedio can also go through sick stages. So, while pedio is more resilient and, I believe, produces a stronger/cleaner acidity, lacto still has its benefits.

I took some extra lambic wort (turbid mash) and fermented it with just brett brux and pedio. After a year it turned out very well. Acidity wise, there doesn't seem to be much need for both lacto and pedio.

I've never tried adding this to ferment beer, but I take lacto from greek yogurt and ferment pepper mash to make hot sauce. The results are very good. I wonder if this would be a good substitute to the hops intolerant WY lacto strain?

I sent an old bottle of rodenbach grand cru, from when they didn't pasteurize it, to Al Buck. Apparently they had a really nice strain of pedio, so he is going to try to culture that. Wish him luck resurrecting the strain, as if it works, he may be able to supply us all with it.

Old 10-12-2013, 02:29 AM   #9
Mar 2010
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I think different lacto strains have different tolerances to hops.

For my Berliners I use Lacto acidopholis (from probiotic tablets). It works, and I don't even want to try grain after what I have read about it. It works for me, so why change.

My Berliner wort has no hops. I once tried to make a starter using Lacto A, and my standard starter wort, and it failed. My standard starter wort is 1.030 with a couple of hop pellets tossed in for about 5 minutes in a gallon batch. Repeated the starter with no hops and it worked fine.

I suspect WL and WY cultures are more resistant than Lacto-A, but be aware that hops do make a difference.

Old 10-12-2013, 05:38 AM   #10
Oct 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 10
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Thanks for the info Levi. I suspected that you could achieve a perfectly respectable sour with just Pedio and Brett, but it is good to hear confirmation from someone who has actually done it. However, my question still remains as to why pro brewers add both Lacto and Pedio to their sour beers, especially when the sour beers have 20+ IBUs?

I stumbled across another reference to adding both Lacto and Pedio to a sour in an article by Chad Yacobson in the May/June 2012 Zymurgy magazine. On page 26 Chad describes how Vinnie adds both Lacto and Pedio to his Temptation beer. In addition, Chad mentions that he does the same to his L'Brett d'Or beer. Based on typical clone recipes for Temptation it appears to have ~25 IBUs. I don't know about L'Brett d'Or. What good does Lacto do in a beer with 25 IBUs, especially when you are already adding Pedio and Brett?

That is awesome news about the Rodenbach Grand Cru. Hopefully Al is able to work his magic on it. How old was the bottle?

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