Sour in secondary for 4 months with no activity - suggestions?

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dtwhite

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I've got my first lambic in secondary right now. It's been there for about 4 months and currently shows only the faintest hint of white film only on the very edge where the top of the beer contacts the carboy. It was fermented with the Roselaire blend plus the dregs of a few select sour beers and had no problem with the initial attenuation. Plus, I put some lactose in there for the bugs to eat. Also, if it means anything, I haven't touched it in any way (aside from adding liquid to the airlock) since transferring to secondary.

I realize that maybe this isn't enough information to go on, but I have no experience with sour beers and my understanding is that at this point I should see a much more sizeable pellicle. I'd like to save this beer.

Here's a blurry picture:
2014-05-06


Should I:
a) relax and leave it alone for longer?
b) take a sample, taste how sour it is, then leave it alone longer in hopes that the tiny bit of o2 I introduced will restart things?
c) take a sample, taste how sour it is, and pitch another pack of Roselaire blend?
d) give up on brewing sour beer forever and retire in shame?


Thanks
 

MileHighBrewer

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Step away from the jar, leave it alone.

Repeat to yourself whilst looking in the mirror "pellicles don't mean squat, pellicles don't mean squat, pellicles don't mean squat"

ALL a pellicle means, is that there is oxygen in the beer. Period, end thread, done. Many people have made fantastic sour beer without ever once having any form of fuzzy moon rock film on their beer. And plenty of people have made crappy sour beer with pellicles that would make Neil Armstrong nostalgic. If you take a sample and ample 02 gets in THEN you might develop a pellicle....or you may not. If you want to take a quick taste test, by all means. If the beer tastes good to you, and the gravity is stable for a month, go forth and package. Odds are it'll keep getting better with time....unless you taste frequently, and let that acetobacter go nuts and turn it into vinegar. Best bet, taste once every several months, when it tastes where you want it, and its stable, you're done.
 

MileHighBrewer

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Oh and don't waste your money throwing in another pack of Roes. If anything, go buy some awesome NON-PASTUERIZED sour beer and toss the bottle dregs in. Just don't do this several times a week because you will be introducing tons of 02
 
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dtwhite

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Thanks. So if I taste it and there's nothing sour happening at all, I should consider adding more bugs, but the way it looks now tells me nothing. It's actually planned to be part of a larger collaborative Gueuze-style project with this one intended to be aged 3 years, which is why I wanted to know if an intervention was necessary. It would really suck to try it at 3 years only to find out that the souring bacteria never took off.
 

Calder

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A

Chances are it is not very sour, and if you taste it, you will get even more worried. Just trust it is working.

I ferment mine, after about a week I transfer (with lots of the yeast still in suspension), and don't touch it for at least a year after that. I have some I've not touched for a couple of years. Some develop pellicles, some don't. All turn out fine, never had a bad one yet. Providing you can resist touching the beer, I think it is one of the easiest types of beer to make with reasonable success.
 

MileHighBrewer

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Bugs can take a long time. Throw some dregs in for complexity and to maybe introduce strains you have not added, bust till, its going to take time.
 

CA_Mouse

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I ferment mine for a month with a basic ale yeast and then transfer to a secondary onto dried fruit and WL Belgian Sour Mix and leave it alone (other than filling the airlock with cheap vodka) for at least another 11 months. I will taste it at the one year mark and then decide on how much longer it needs to sit. I have 2 different ones going right now that I brewed in October and November, neither has what I would call a pellicle.
 
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dtwhite

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Alright, I'll try to be as patient as I can. I'm already keeping it at another house to prevent me from touching it!
 
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