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PH issues with 1st sour attempt...

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PurpleHouse

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Hi all. Long time reader, but first time posting here, so hope I'm doing this right.

My first crack at a Berliner Weiss-style has me a little stumped. I first made a 1 liter starter with DME and dumped in the WY5335 Lacto culture, incubating it for 3 days at ~100F until brew day. At this point I still hadn't received my HACH PocketPro+ PH meter, so I based it's sour level by taste, which from reading forums, should taste a bit like apple juice, since the sugar still left in the starter wort will keep it from tasting as sour as a sour beer should. The WY 5335 culture was "born" almost 3 months before I used it, but there is also the aroma of sourness happening along with the apple juice flavor.

I then brewed the wort (5 gal., all grain with decoction, added 1.5 Tbs 88% lactic acid), transferred to carboy and pitched the whole 1 L lacto starter in the carboy - no aeration and put it in my fermentation closet, sitting at ~70. My plan is based on the suggestion of Michael Tonsmeire's American Sour book where he talks about how Jess Caudill of WYeast has had the best results, inoculating his BW's with 5335 and letting it sit at 68F for a week before pitching a German ale strain.

The 1st day after brewing, I got my HACH PocketPro+, very carefully learned how to set it up and manually calibrated it using the ph4 and ph7 solutions, then measured the ph of the wort, expecting it to have dropped a little. Here's how it's gone so far:

02/02 - PH = 4.10
02/03 - PH = 3.92
02/04 - PH = 4.07

I'm not sure what is happening with the readings. I'm manually calibrating the meter each time before testing the wort. On 02/03, I watched the reading climb a little as the sample's temp. rose, so maybe that has something to do with it. Either way, I'm more concerned with the wort not dropping below ph4 by now. I also tasted the sample today and it tastes just like sweet wort. Am I missing something here? Too worried too quickly? I come here to you guys and gals for all kinds of pro-tips, so much respect to the OG's out there.:rock:
 

Rob2010SS

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I'm still new to brewing myself, and I've only done one traditional sour and a few kettle sours. My initial hunch is that with no aeration to the wort, the lacto is taking a bit to get started. My kettle sours using omega lacto are down to 3.2-3.3 by about the 36 hour mark in a 5 gallon batch.

Your readings that you posted, if my hunch is right, is simply the effect from the lactic acid you added to the wort. I do that in my kettle sours as well.

Id say give it the full week and see what pH looks like then. If you're still at pH of 4, then there is something else going on. I'm answer to your question, too early to panic. Give it a few more days.
 

RPh_Guy

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Did you use hops? What is the IBU?

I'm guessing you did not buffer the starter?

The pH shouldn't be rising. This is some issue with your meter or (more likely) your calibration technique.
-Use at least an ounce of calibration samples in clean glassware. Make sure they are close to appropriate temperature for your meter.
-Make sure you are calibrating the pH 7 first.
-Quickly rinse the probe with fresh water when moving between the calibration solutions/samples to avoid contamination.
-Gently & constantly swirl the probe in the sample while waiting for the reading to stabilize.
-Observe appropriate storage (storage solution or pH 4 solution) and keep your probe adequately hydrated (check your manual).

Wyeast 5335 ... has questionable usage for "fast" souring since it is usually pretty slow and doesn't seem to hit as low a pH as other species. Other sources of Lacto are probably better (at least in my opinion) because they work faster, especially at room temperature.

In summary: You should try to raise the temp a little bit. If you don't want to try the wait and see approach, consider pitching a different culture of Lacto at this point. Lastly, try to improve your pH meter readings :)

I'm still new to brewing myself, and I've only done one traditional sour and a few kettle sours. My initial hunch is that with no aeration to the wort, the lacto is taking a bit to get started.
Aeration is not required and is not recommended during a kettle sour. Lacto species are anaerobic, although aerotolerant. Oxygen will only contribute to staling and give any potential aerobic bacteria contamination more opportunity to grow during the kettle sour process.
...
During a staggered fermentation such as this, I would avoid aeration during the Lacto phase for these same reasons. He can aerate the wort before pitching yeast.
 
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Rob2010SS

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Did you use hops? What is the IBU?

I'm guessing you did not buffer the starter?

The pH shouldn't be rising. This is some issue with your meter or (more likely) your calibration technique.
-Use at least an ounce of calibration samples in clean glassware. Make sure they are close to appropriate temperature for your meter.
-Make sure you are calibrating the pH 7 first.
-Quickly rinse the probe with fresh water when moving between the calibration solutions/samples to avoid contamination.
-Gently & constantly swirl the probe in the sample while waiting for the reading to stabilize.
-Observe appropriate storage (storage solution or pH 4 solution) and keep your probe adequately hydrated (check your manual).

Wyeast 5335 ... has questionable usage for "fast" souring since it is usually pretty slow and doesn't seem to hit as low a pH as other species. Other sources of Lacto are probably better (at least in my opinion) because they work faster, especially at room temperature.

In summary: You should try to raise the temp a little bit. If you don't want to try the wait and see approach, consider pitching a different culture of Lacto at this point. Lastly, try to improve your pH meter readings :)


Aeration is not required and is not recommended during a kettle sour. Lacto species are anaerobic, although aerotolerant. Oxygen will only contribute to staling and give any potential aerobic bacteria contamination more opportunity to grow during the kettle sour process.
...
During a staggered fermentation such as this, I would avoid aeration during the Lacto phase for these same reasons. He can aerate the wort before pitching yeast.
Learned me something today. Thanks! With omega lacto they say you don't need to avoid oxygen exposure so i thought it may actually help for some reason.
 

Aaron Beers

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02/02 - PH = 4.10
02/03 - PH = 3.92
02/04 - PH = 4.07

I'm not sure what is happening with the readings. I'm manually calibrating the meter each time before testing the wort.
The pH isn't going to fluctuate up and down like this. The only thing I can presume is you are slightly mis-calibrating your pH meter each time. You shouldn't really need to calibrate every single time before measuring.

So these readings aside, if you aren't getting any real pH drop over time, then your yeast aren't happy.
 

RPh_Guy

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....You shouldn't really need to calibrate every single time before measuring.

So these readings aside, if you aren't getting any real pH drop over time, then your BACTERIA aren't happy.
I would calibrate before each use unless you can verify that your meter can consistently go for days without needing calibration (e.g. by daily testing your calibration solutions over a period of time).
ALL instruments should be calibrated at least once (hydrometers, spirit thermometers, scales, volumetric containers) and usually before each use for things that can drift (pH meters, metallic thermometers...) is best if you want accurate readings.

Cheers
 
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