Compost bucket sour?

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Hops originally went into beer because they were a preservative against spoilage by wild yeasts/bacteria. They may also drop the starting pH a bit (I'm not sure about that).

There are hop resistant strains of yeast and various bacteria (lacto, pedio). In this case, whatever keeps the bucket smelling nice doesn't deal with hops except occasionally, so I don't want to make life too hard on them initially.

If they can't handle hops at all, maybe it'll be good for cider. TBD!
They don't help much against wild yeast but they are pretty effective against souring ie lactobacillus. That was the main reason for them to be incorporated. Otherwise beer turns sour fairly quickly, which doesn't have to be a bad thing btw.
 
I have to admit that I find this experiment sufficiently fascinating that I ordered a copy of this:

https://books.google.com/books/about/Food_Spoilage_Microorganisms.html

I suspect this is going to come down to a question of if something that can drop the pH quickly enough can grow and not taste bad.

One question: why unhopped wort for the starter? I just got back from Brussels (and a tour of Cantillon). They say they use aged hops specifically for anti microbial properties without bitterness. A bit of hopping might give the yeast more of a fighting chance against any nasties.
Yeah, as far as I know the main function of hops in a mixed culture beer is to control the growth of lactic acid producing bacteria (LAB). Overall, that should roughly control the acidity of the final beer. The iso-α-acids and some other compounds in hops act against certain bacteria and slow or stop their growth. Mostly they work against gram positive bacteria I think but my knowledge stops there. As far as I know they don't do anything against wild yeasts. I think it gets even more confusing sometimes because the term "spoilage" is used with beer in cases where the beer is still safe to drink but maybe didn't turn out how you wanted. One person might say that Lactobacillus "spoiled" their beer while another person intentionally adds it for the flavor it imparts. Both beers are drinkable, so not necessarily spoiled in the way you'd think with food.

Bacteria can also be resistant or become resistant over time. So if you don't want LAB to grow out of control and make your beer extremely sour then hopping is the way to do it. I think they do it with aged hops in lambics because they're not looking for the other hop flavors and maybe not as much bitterness either.

If you want more reading then Milk the Funk might be fun for you to browse. They get pretty technical and try to cite references where possible. It's very informative. To start...

https://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Lactobacillus

Just did the Cantillon tour last year. It was very fun :) Hopefully you got around to some other places. Brussels is a wonderful beer city and just a great city in general!
 
Just transferred for second time. So far:

Gen 1:
  1. Lag Time: 48hr
  2. Gen Time: 6 days
  3. Final pH: 3.5
Gen 2:
  1. Lag Time: 54hr
  2. Gen Time: 8 days
  3. Final pH: 3.3
  4. FG: 1.028
The OG should all be 1.036 - it's 75g DME in 750g water.

I didn't read FG on gen 1. The high FG on gen 2 indicates ~23% apparent attenuation*. This looks like very slow metabolizing of maltose. Presumably limited use of maltotriose and bigger.

Smell was quite tart. A bit like apple cider vinegar, but maybe not all acetic acid. Maybe some cherry and other fruit on the nose. Did not taste. Maybe next generation will get a swish.

No signs of mold so far.

Seems like I might have to add sugars for this stuff to eat if pitching in finished beer?

*there may not be much/any ethanol, so apparent might ~= actual.

edit: Oh, yeah. I realized I pitched gen 2 at ~40F, so that may have delayed growth a bit. Bloops. Gen 3 is ~70F.
 
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After some more reading, could the high FG be because the pH got so low? I've been reading that lactobacillus and pediococcus tend to drop pH to about 3.5 and then stall out.

Perhaps it will eat longer polysaccharides if it has to and pH is higher?
 
After some more reading, could the high FG be because the pH got so low? I've been reading that lactobacillus and pediococcus tend to drop pH to about 3.5 and then stall out.

Perhaps it will eat longer polysaccharides if it has to and pH is higher?
I can definitely confirm that's how LAB acts in a lacto ferment. Especially running it at 70F. If you run it hot then it can drop to 3.5 pH within a couple days. If your culture is lacto and pedio heavy then this seems possible to me. I think the working pH range for most brewers yeast goes down to around 4 pH. So whatever isn't lacto or pedio in there could be struggling.

One thought would be to split it at some point and do a test. Pull 5% and hop it and then pull another 5% and carry on as usual. See how each behaves. If you want then you can blend them back together down the line.
 
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After some more reading, could the high FG be because the pH got so low? I've been reading that lactobacillus and pediococcus tend to drop pH to about 3.5 and then stall out.

Perhaps it will eat longer polysaccharides if it has to and pH is higher?
You're doing a wild, mixed fermentation. There's a reason why lambic takes so much time to ferment and why they add aged hops. The time is needed to let it ferment out and the hops to control the sourness. They also add specific precursors of some tastes that the yeast will make out of it.

Don't look much at the gravity, it will very likely continue to drop over the next year. Yes, wild fermentation really needs that time.
 
hops to control the sourness.
Curious. Is the primary mode of action inhibition of growth, buffering, or forcing some alternate metabolics? Seems like buffering would run out fast, so maybe it just gives yeast time to eat first?

Batch 3 is already covered with a pelicle (32 hrs) and bubbling a little more than past batches. I see more of what looks like floc'd yeast this time around.

edit: Also, I've been pressure canning the starters. What do you think about throwing a few t90 pellets in? I imagine AA would isomerize at 240F, but this is new territory lol
 
Curious. Is the primary mode of action inhibition of growth, buffering, or forcing some alternate metabolics? Seems like buffering would run out fast, so maybe it just gives yeast time to eat first?

Batch 3 is already covered with a pelicle (32 hrs) and bubbling a little more than past batches. I see more of what looks like floc'd yeast this time around.

edit: Also, I've been pressure canning the starters. What do you think about throwing a few t90 pellets in? I imagine AA would isomerize at 240F, but this is new territory lol
Most of the lactic acid bacteria are highly intolerant to hops. So by adding "weakened" (aged) hops, they are not completely eliminated, not their number and replication is heavily suppressed.
 
Curious. Is the primary mode of action inhibition of growth, buffering, or forcing some alternate metabolics? Seems like buffering would run out fast, so maybe it just gives yeast time to eat first?

Batch 3 is already covered with a pelicle (32 hrs) and bubbling a little more than past batches. I see more of what looks like floc'd yeast this time around.

edit: Also, I've been pressure canning the starters. What do you think about throwing a few t90 pellets in? I imagine AA would isomerize at 240F, but this is new territory lol
I can't find any research for hops that directly relates, but it seems like other organic compounds either don't show an effect of pressure on isomerization or the isomerization effect is only partially reduced. I think you'll be fine throwing in a few T90s.

@Miraculix seems right to me. If I understand correctly, the iso alpha acids basically react with the LAB to reduce their number in the beer. Killing them, stunting them...I'm not sure. Enough hops or hops with a high enough alpha...that reduction can become functionally elimination, though. Lower alpha also gives you more room for error when working with beer. Too much or too little with a high alpha hop and it could really, really matter in this case. Not so much with low alpha.
 
Batch 3
  1. Lag Time: 8 hr
  2. Gen Time: 7 days
  3. Final pH: 3.2
  4. FG: 1.022
It's getting accustomed to it's new home. Looked like more yeast this time around. Lots more bubbles even on day 7.

How low can pH go?? I'll re-calibrate meter before next reading as a sanity check.

I tasted (and spit) some! It was surprisingly like apple cider. Very fruity, no acetic acid.
 
Batch 3
  1. Lag Time: 8 hr
  2. Gen Time: 7 days
  3. Final pH: 3.2
  4. FG: 1.022
It's getting accustomed to it's new home. Looked like more yeast this time around. Lots more bubbles even on day 7.

How low can pH go?? I'll re-calibrate meter before next reading as a sanity check.

I tasted (and spit) some! It was surprisingly like apple cider. Very fruity, no acetic acid.
Thanks for the updates. Really interesting! As for pH, that's low but not an impossible measurement in this situation. These people checked 9 lambics and the pH ranged from about 3.2 - 3.6.

https://www.mdpi.com/2306-5710/3/4/51

They cite an older paper that has a nice graphic tracking alcohol, gravity, and pH for lambics over 24 months (see Fig 2). It shows an initial fermentation that took the gravity down to around 1.022 and pH around 4 after a few months. Then the gravity drops another 10 point and the pH drops to about 3 over time.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/j.2050-0416.1975.tb06953.x

I'd expect your trajectory here to be different for multiple reasons, but it's not beyond belief!
 
Life made me skip a weekly propagation.

Batch 4:
  1. Lag Time: 8hr
  2. Gen Time: 13 days
  3. Final pH: 3.3
  4. FG: Disaster! Forgot to measure.
Tasted batch 4, also very much like cider, perhaps slightly smoother acidity. I calibrated the pH meter this time. Before and after values were the same, so it looks like it hadn't drifted much.

Batch 5 is split into hopped (5H) and un-hopped (5X). I hopped 750ml of 1.036 wort with 0.6g of 4.5%AA T90 Fuggles. It went through the pressure cooker, so hours at 212F+. This is roughly 1/2oz in a 5 gallon batch.

At day 5, I cannot tell much of a difference between batch 5H and 5X. 5H may be bubbling slightly slower, but that may just be the shape of the glass or the way it's sitting. Surface bubbles appear similar, which is probably a more accurate integrator of bubble activity.
unhopped batch 5X: .................................................. hopped batch 5H:
PXL_20240612_163900192.jpg
PXL_20240612_163909938.jpg


For 6H, I'll probably do 2g~ of hops to see if that has more of an effect.
 
Life made me skip a weekly propagation.

Batch 4:
  1. Lag Time: 8hr
  2. Gen Time: 13 days
  3. Final pH: 3.3
  4. FG: Disaster! Forgot to measure.
Tasted batch 4, also very much like cider, perhaps slightly smoother acidity. I calibrated the pH meter this time. Before and after values were the same, so it looks like it hadn't drifted much.

Batch 5 is split into hopped (5H) and un-hopped (5X). I hopped 750ml of 1.036 wort with 0.6g of 4.5%AA T90 Fuggles. It went through the pressure cooker, so hours at 212F+. This is roughly 1/2oz in a 5 gallon batch.

At day 5, I cannot tell much of a difference between batch 5H and 5X. 5H may be bubbling slightly slower, but that may just be the shape of the glass or the way it's sitting. Surface bubbles appear similar, which is probably a more accurate integrator of bubble activity.
unhopped batch 5X: .................................................. hopped batch 5H:
View attachment 850651View attachment 850652

For 6H, I'll probably do 2g~ of hops to see if that has more of an effect.
Nice! Keep it going and keep us posted!
 
Batch 5X: (0g hops in 750ml 1.036 wort)
  1. Lag Time: 8hr~
  2. Gen Time: 10 days
  3. Final pH: 3.3
  4. FG: 1.013

Batch 5H (0.6g 4.5%AA Fuggles in 750ml 1.036 wort)
  1. Lag Time: 8hr~
  2. Gen Time: 10 days
  3. Final pH: 3.9
  4. FG: 1.009

From here on batch #H will be propagated from (#-1)H, and #X from (#-1)X.

Batch #6H is set up with 2.1g hops in 750ml starter. I may have jumped the gun on the hopping regimen -- clearly it had more effect than I could tell visually. Very interesting!
 
Just tasted.

5X was unfortunately the first batch with an acetic character. Not too bad, but definitely there. Also a bit "footy". I think there is some wild yeast at work with a wild flavor.

5H was... surprisingly boring. Almost just low-flavor beer. Slightly funky foot. The hop bitterness was present -- hopefully 2.1g isn't extreme overkill.

Also worth noting: I had been generating starters in 1qt canning jars and pitching into 1 gallon demijohns. I'm keeping the starters the same, but pitching into 2qt canning jars from now on because I needed more containers, and felt like 3+:1 head space was excessive.
 
I was thinking the same thing. And I can’t stop following.

@mashdar when do we get to “beer”?
Well, if the experts can be believed, at some point it needs to go in real beer and sit for a year to see what happens? I'll probably do a split batch soon.

Next beer is a small porter, so probably not that one.

What kind of beer do you guys think it should go in? Something big? Dark? Aged hops?
 
Well, if the experts can be believed, at some point it needs to go in real beer and sit for a year to see what happens? I'll probably do a split batch soon.

Next beer is a small porter, so probably not that one.

What kind of beer do you guys think it should go in? Something big? Dark? Aged hops?
Depends on your aims. I would try something very simple, a highly fermentable smash with about twenty ibus.

If you want to go the full lambic route, you'd need almost zero ibus plus aged hops.
 
What kind of beer do you guys think it should go in? Something big? Dark? Aged hops?
Depends on your aims. I would try something very simple, a highly fermentable smash with about twenty ibus.

If you want to go the full lambic route, you'd need almost zero ibus plus aged hops.
Yeah, agreed with something simple. I just did a blonde/golden sour and decided to do 100% English Pale Malt. It turned out extremely well! Just over 6% and just enough malt profile to be interesting. I say try aged hops and lean into the funk, but that's my taste :) If you need some then I know at least YVH has them. I'm sure others do too.

https://yakimavalleyhops.com/products/lambic-hop-pellets
 
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