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Beginner Brewer - About to attempt first Lambic Style

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Aoiree

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Hi hi!

New brewer here! First post, been lurking here and other places reading and digesting for the better part of 4-5 months now in preparation.

Plan to brew my first batch of lambic-style beer this weekend. Going to be making 15 gallons in two boils what feels like a fairly big batch, so cheers to being probably overly ambitious but also trying to keep things simple with just an extract recipe. Attempting a variant inspired from the tried-and-true AmandaK's extract lambic recipe, honestly no idea what to expect it'll turn out but hopefully decent and maybe I'll learn things.

Love to get some of your thoughts/advice from the experienced brewers. I'll try to keep updating this thread over time as stuff progresses and add some photos.

Recipe for 15 gallons (Which I'm splitting evenly into 2 boils):
6 lb Briess Golden Light DME + 3 lb Muntons Plain Light DME
9 lb Muntons Plain Wheat DME
12 oz Maltodextrin
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Hops: 6oz Aged Yakima Valley Lambic hop pellets (split into 2 batches):
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Yeast + Bugs:
Safale-05 (1 or 2 packets? Maybe some bread yeast? -- See note)
WLP653 - Brettanomyces Lambicus
WLP672 - Lactobacillus Brevis
+ a variety of dregs (Cuvee Renee, Ommegang, Wicked Weed, Paradox and/or others... saved some dregs but also depends what I decide to open this weekend & when I move to secondary)
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Have a 10 gallon kettle so I plan to split the boil into two batches.
-Primary in a 20 gallon HDPE-2 Food Safe barrel (used to contain beer clarifier!... although I'm told it had a liner and I've thoroughly rinsed and oxi-cleaned it multiple times so /shrug)
-Secondary into a 15 gallon HDPE-2 Food Safe barrel... probably add some oak.


Pitching plan... and inviting opinions:
  • Planning to pitch all the yeast + bugs at once.... or MAYBE give the Lacto a 24 hour head start at slightly higher temperature... but I'm really hoping for Brett emphasis, not necessarily after the tart/acidity.
  • Might pitch just one packet of Safale-05 in 15 gallons to promote stressing it to produce more esters for the brett to clean up later (esp since Safale-05 is a low phenols strain). Also under pitching the sachh might give the lacto more time do do work but /shrug... some worries if the sacch won't grow enough if severely under pitched and fighting with lacto.
  • Also debating to either supplement with, or even to purely use, Fleischmann Bread Yeast as I'm to understand it's a PoF+ sacch strain (and can produce passable Belgian style beer on its own). Theorizing a "messy" PoF+ sacch might be great to promote emphasis of the brett characteristics down the line. Also I don't feel like driving 2 hours to pick up some other sacch PoF+ strains at this point. I want plan to brew this weekend and I have a ton of bread yeast on hand from baking.
  • Regardless from my reading I have to imagine the brett + any pedio from dregs will overtime clean up anything any low attenuation or off flavors from under pitching the safale-05 and/or usage of the bread yeast... Thoughts? For science?

Will be curious to see how the yeast activity heats up 15 gallons, will be monitoring temps to see if I need any interventions to lower (or raise) temps. Normally I'd keep it in our basement but instead it'll be in our (partially-condtioned) garage to avoid the need to move 15 gallons up or down flights of stairs if we sell our house and move (which is risk in the near future). The less I have to move 130lb of fermenting beer the better but will be keeping an eye on it. Might spur me into converting m

Background on my yeast + bugs selection:
Was looking for but couldn't find wyeast lambic blend in any of the 3 homebrew shops within 2 hours (round trip) from me but I could find and grabbed some of the (likely) base components (no one had pedio in stock.)
But now that I have these vials need to use them! ...for science!

Future plans:
I have a second 15 gallon barrel that I plan to actually follow do AmandaK's recpie in and will get some wyeast lambic blend shipped.
For 15 gallons think 1x vial of wyeast3278 will be appropriate or should I be looking to double up or supplement in any fashion? Assuming it's good as is for something this size and a starter just promotes more sacch and throws balance out of whack anyway, which is probably what happens as soon as I pitch it regardless so I'll probably not worry too much about that.

Also I'll probably NOT use the cake from the first batch for the second batch just to keep both of these brews more distinct so I can compare one against the other. That being said is there any worthwhile way of saving yeast cake that isn't too involved for a beginner like me, otherwise I won't worry about it.

With some luck I'll have 30 gallons of lambic aging properly to start a mixed ferment pipeline for drinking/continuous aging/fruiting/blending over years to come. I'll likely be picking up some more food safe barrels and PET carboys down the line as I start siphoning beer out of the 15 gallon containers to drink/blend/fruit/etc.

I'll probably look to add 10-20 gallons to the pipeline annually depending on usage/gifting/competitions/my tastes/etc.
 
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Aoiree

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Brewed! Two batches combined to about an OG of 1.055ish. Went with Fleischmann Bread Yeast (cuz why not....)

Yeast shot off hard, fermenting strong within an hour. People have accounted Fleischmann is belgian-like and apparently it's aggressive like belgian yeast!

Within 3 hours was exploding out of the airlock. Mind you there is 5 gallons of headspace in this thing!
PXL_20201027_070208072.jpg



Tried setting up a blow-off tube but none of my tubing was wide enough to not get clogged and were just causing strong pressure build ups.

After attempting to mcguyver various airlocks ended up sanitizing some foil and just crafting a funnel to direct the froth away from the bung and over the side to make it harder for stuff to sneak in. Plus it was 3-4am and I needed some sleep and didn't want to worry about the fermenter blowing from pressure while I slept. So long as it' was still out gassing hard I wasn't going to worry too too much.

PXL_20201027_102845595.jpg


Woke up to a messy floor and this foam monstrosity.

Cleaned it up. Eventually had the bright idea to look up what FermCapS was and if there's any "DIY" alternatives and found out it's just Gas-X. Lucky for me cuz a friend of mine left some gas-x here years ago from a Thanksgiving long forgot (and I have no FermCapS).

Emptied 4 Gas-X soft gels into a small amount of boiling water and added it to the fermenter.

Been a few hours but look like it's holding well! Nice and clean but still very active.

PXL_20201027_163324286.jpg


Still aggressively gassing but gassing clean! Make-shifted my 3-piece airlock into a 5 piece airlock by filling the lid with star-san and throwing a quart container over it.

Hopefully smooth sailing the rest of the way.


TIL buy some FermCapS and some wider tubes for better blow off systems.

Note: Pitched at roughly 69degrees, currently at roughly 73 degrees.
 
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sweetcell

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cool project, brah. random thoughts:

- i wouldn't be too fixated on Wyeast 3278. cell counts are low, and the LAB in there isn't very robust. i would look into ordering a better bug mix online if your local shops can't hook you up with something from The Yeast Bay, Omega, Imperial Yeast (Sour Batch Kidz), East Coast Yeast, etc... much better options than anything from Wyeast or White Labs, IMO.
- one pouch of Wyeast 3278 would not be enough for batch #2. the manufacturer recommends 1 pouch per 5 gallons. i recommend zero :D
- " any worthwhile way of saving yeast cake that isn't too involved for a beginner like me" here's what i do: save some slurry/cake in a small mason/ball jar. top up with some of the associated sour beer. screw lid 90% on - don't tighten too much, you want CO2 to have an escape path. store in fridge until needed.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Fresh East Coast Yeast available here - I've used BugFarm, BugFarm2 and BugCountry so far with awesome results.

I just got an email the other day from Bootleg Biology saying they just got restocked, available here

And there are a few strains are still available from The Yeast Bay. I've never used their yeast and can't ever seem to time it right to get a package of Melange.

Best of luck, keep us posted. Cheers!
 
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Aoiree

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Oh man next time I'm in NJ I'll try to hit up East Coast Yeast in person. Not too far from some of my family.

Will do. Beer happily fermenting peacefully right now.
 

Snark_Wolf_Brewing

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Whatever you do, DO NOT USE THE SAME EQUIPMENT YOU BREWED YOUR LAMBIC WITH FOR OTHER BREWS! This includes, fermenters, hoses, airlocks, buckets, siphons, etc, etc. Lambic yeasts are extremely hard to kill, no matter how much you try and sterilize or sanitize, and anything else you brew will become infected.
 

sweetcell

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Oh man next time I'm in NJ I'll try to hit up East Coast Yeast in person. Not too far from some of my family.
ECY doesn't sell yeast directly, at least not that i'm aware of. you need to go to fermentednj.com or love2brew.com in North Brunswick. i'm a huge fan of ECY. a single bottle of Bug Farm or Bug County is probably enough for 15 gallons, they pack a TON of cells in there.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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a single bottle of Bug Farm or Bug County is probably enough for 15 gallons, they pack a TON of cells in there.
I'll vouch for this. I have 2 vials remaining that are (embarrassingly and shamefully) 8 months old and they still chew through 5 gallons of 1.050 wort REAL quick. Wonderful yeasts, I'd order some while it's available since fermentednj only restocks twice a year!

for my last remaining 2 vials I'm going to do little 1.035 table sours so I can hopefully harvest some less stressed yeast. Cheers!

Edit: My vials say they contain 350 billion cells. Which, mine certainly contain quite a bit less due to age but they work just fine. Maybe I'll do a starter next time, since I'm now a little paranoid about age 🤔
 
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Aoiree

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Man they're already selling out. Will look to order something hopefully.
 

mashpaddled

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I've been brewing sour beer for about a decade and WY3278 is my go-to for sour beer. I don't think there is anything magical about it for brewing lambic-like beer. The dig on it has always been that it doesn't make blisteringly sour beer but the reason I like it is it doesn't make blisteringly sour beer. I've never had a problem generating sourness with it but if you're after that AWA 3.0 ph it isn't the best option. If you want the softer sourness and more robust flavor common to a lot of lambic and some of the better AWAs IMO there isn't a better option. Just depends on what you want, really.
 
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Aoiree

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Noted, generally hoping for more brett funk.
 

goodolarchie

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There are some established methods to coax out more brett funk. Don't spare on hops - not for IBUs, just for the aromatic and flavor contributions. This is why aged (low alpha) hops are used traditionally. You can add them in the mash even. Over time the hop character will fade (including bitterness), but the funk will shine. Using a generous portion of wheat in the grist helps too. Lastly, delay the brett pitch at least a few days if possible, give the sacch time to generate some of the esters and phenolic metabolic pathways for brett funk to develop.
 
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