New to brewing funk, some questions

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moreb33rplz

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I just received several cultures from East Coast and Bootleg, and plan on doing a round of several funky beers this spring. All my cultures include sacc, brett, lacto, and pedio (well, one doesn't have pedio).

- All of my beers will have an OG between 1.030 and 1.060. Am I good to direct pitch with no starter?
- Should I use no hops, or less than 10 IBU, or either one? My understanding is a few IBU might restrain the tart, as long as I don't exceed 10 I should be good.
- I am planning on fermenting all of these in glass carboys. I'd really like to not transfer if possible, is there a problem keeping them all in primary for a year? They all have Brett so I figured would be OK.
- I'm planning on adding fruit to 1 or two of these, and was going to add fruit to a secondary carboy when the beer has a funk/tart I like (probably at least six months), then rack the beer onto the fruit and let it age for 2-4 weeks before bottling. Is that reasonable?
- Can I just ferment these at room temperature (60-75 degrees)

Thanks in advance
 
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goodolarchie

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I just received several cultures from East Coast and Bootleg
Sweet, welcome to the dark side! We complex beers here, worth trying a third sip... or pint. These guys make awesome mixed cultures, so you're in good hands.

- All of my beers will have an OG between 1.030 and 1.060. Am I good to direct pitch with no starter?
Pushing 1.050 gets to be starter territory. Saison yeasts can be characterful if underpitched, but mixed ferm beer likes healthy yeast and bacteria just like any beer. Oxygenating is a good idea if you can to pitch your primary yeast.
The challenge with starters here is those mixed cultures you got are balanced in such a way that propping them up gets you very, very mixed results in my experience. E.g. the lacto will go crazy and you get a mega sour beer, or the pedio didn't like aeration so now it's underpowered and you get little souring. So my recommendation is to settle on your house sacch yeast and co-pitch some of that - for me that's Dupont's saison strain. It putters out at 1.035 but it does the work to let the rest of the culture bring it home. And it's a ****ing great strain.

1.030 beers may not have enough in the tank to get truly sour, so if you want a sour beer you might consider pitching the bacteria first at a warm temp (80-90F), then your sacch/brett on day 2-3 after it cools down. Mixed ferm table beers are just lovely though, and so quaffable.

- Should I use no hops, or less than 10 IBU, or either one? My understanding is a few IBU might restrain the tart, as long as I don't exceed 10 I should be good.
In my experience, unhopped sours are bland and uninteresting. That's not to say berlinerweisse are bad, I love the style, but they are meant to be light and quenching, not profound. I wish I used more hops when I started off because I go back and taste some of those 6, 7 year old beers and they are just weak. Unless you're doing something like a no-boil berliner, hops really tend to coax out the funk, especially if you use aged hops in the boil and enjoy that lambic cheesey, musty, earthy funk. Frankly I don't know how to get great funky brett character without some hops.

However -- there is a big spectrum between no hops and 10 IBU. I'm using around 6oz of aged hops in my 15 gallon batches, and those work out to about 4-5 IBU. That's mostly aged hops in the boil and a little cascade or styrian savijnski, sometimes saaz at flameout. What you'll find is that some strains of lactobacillus don't tolerate more than 3-4 IBU at all. You'll end up with beers in the low 4.0 pH range, which means either the sacch got too much of a head start, or the hops inhibited the process. So you might try to keep it light at first and dial back until you get a feel for these cultures. Keep in mind re-pitching a second gen mixed culture could really produce a lot more acidity... don't hesitate to up the IBUs 1-2 on the second pitch. Some pedio strains tolerate 10 IBU's just fine, they just take longer to sour.

- I am planning on fermenting all of these in glass carboys. I'd really like to not transfer if possible, is there a problem keeping them all in primary for a year? They all have Brett so I figured would be OK.
If that's the case, I'd recommend using whirlfloc or irish moss then really letting the kettle settle out the trub and transferring as cleanly as possible. I'm talking even let it sit overnight so you can read your lower volume markings through the wort. (Hell, do a spontaneous inoculation while you're at it!) That trub can produce some rather fatty acid oriented flavors, and many brett strains can metabolize these into nice pineapple like flavors. Lambic producers age in barrels with the trub. So it's doable. However I've moved to doing primary in one vessel and after about 2 months (airlock is mostly dead), transferring to another with a bit of corn sugar to perk it up again. Your choice, I think it's easier to make good beer by racking off the trub because it's a pain to try not to transfer any into primary.

Keep in mind, you only need n+1 extra carboys where n is the number of funky beers you plan to have going. The +1 is for the secondary that you will transfer to, then you clean the first one and it's available for the next.

- I'm planning on adding fruit to 1 or two of these, and was going to add fruit to a secondary carboy when the beer has a funk/tart I like (probably at least six months), then rack the beer onto the fruit and let it age for 2-4 weeks before bottling. Is that reasonable?
Now we're talking! Totally reasonable. See above, sounds like you already plan on having n+1 carboy available so that settles that...

I'm a fan of whole fruit but that's not easy for everyone, the purees are fine, just use them fresh as they really lose their brilliance after a year or two.

Also make sure you have a way of filtering or a good bottling regimen, because getting fruit clogged really sucks while bottling.

- Can I just ferment these at room temperature (60-75 degrees)
Yep, absolutely. It's good to have a fermentation regimen. In my case, I'm pitching dupont + culture (+ bottle dregs perhaps) at 68 in a guest room, letting it free rise overnight, and by day 2-3 I'll move it into the closet which I keep at 73-78 (depends on shelf height). 75 you'll see some good souring, those bacteria love heat. Saison strains do some good work here too.

Once they settle down or go into secondary, it's fine to keep them at 60, I do this. Your souring is likely done so expect it to really slow down, but some bacteria will continue adding acidity as long as it can keep metabolizing, including complex sugars and starches. It will slow things down a bit but that's not a bad thing, the brett will be working away. It even does work after you keg or bottle it and keep it in the fridge. Brett is scary strong.

Good luck and report back...
 
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moreb33rplz

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Damn dude, thank you for the detailed response. Feeling excited.
 

pursuit0fhoppiness

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I 100% agree with pretty much everything goodolarchie said, especially the hops (highly recommend finding some very low AA aged hops). Both to help drive some funk, and to not let the acidity get out of control. If there's pedio in the mix, don't worry about it not souring, just keep it under 10 IBUs like you said.

The one thing I would've answered differently was the starter for the mixed culture blends - I've never made a starter as I didn't want to mix up the ratios of the microbes, and for 5 gal batches I've just generally found it unnecessary. If you're really worried about it not finishing (which it should with Brett and LAB in the mix), pitch bottle dregs along the way. I HIGHLY recommend that anyway for increased complexity.
 

sweetcell

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I just received several cultures from East Coast and Bootleg, and plan on doing a round of several funky beers this spring. All my cultures include sacc, brett, lacto, and pedio (well, one doesn't have pedio).

- All of my beers will have an OG between 1.030 and 1.060. Am I good to direct pitch with no starter?
yes, especially the ECY. those things contain enough cells for two batches - you could easily split one between two 5-gallon carboys.

- Should I use no hops, or less than 10 IBU, or either one? My understanding is a few IBU might restrain the tart, as long as I don't exceed 10 I should be good.
if you want maximum sourness, go with zero IBUs. but like goodolarchie alluded to, there is magic that happens when a sour beer is hopped - late. so personally, i would add hops at flame-out: get a few IBUs as you're cooling the wort, but you still get those oils in the brew for the brett to work on.

- I am planning on fermenting all of these in glass carboys. I'd really like to not transfer if possible, is there a problem keeping them all in primary for a year? They all have Brett so I figured would be OK.
you should be fine, although i've never done it myself. i always do primary in a larger fermenter, then rack to a 5-gallon secondary for extended aging. this allows me to leave almost all of the yeast cake behind (ready for the next beer!).

- I'm planning on adding fruit to 1 or two of these, and was going to add fruit to a secondary carboy when the beer has a funk/tart I like (probably at least six months), then rack the beer onto the fruit and let it age for 2-4 weeks before bottling. Is that reasonable?
yup, that's reasonable, although 2-4 weeks may not be enough for the full refermentation. at that point you'll only have brett which is active in the beer, and brett can take up to two weeks to get going. so be prepared to be flexible about how long the secondary fermentation will take.

- Can I just ferment these at room temperature (60-75 degrees)
yup.
 

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