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When & with what to funkify?

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Kent88

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I'm early in the process of planning a lambic-style-ish brew, just had some questions.

Planning a 5-gallon brew. I've been finding plenty of yeasts, bacteria, and blends to use. I've seen a some recipes where Wyeast 3278 is pitched by itself right after cooling, and some where it is pitched a few days or a week after a neutral strain. Would either method cause over or under pitching saccharomyces to a point where it is noticeable in the final product?

If I were to buy all four of the microbes separately is there some kind of schedule to follow? Like saccharomyces and lactobacillus after cooling the wort, then brettanomyces and pediococcus after a week or two?

I've also read about people adding dregs from their favorite sour beers. Would this be best as the only source of microbes, or in addition to lab cultures of some or all of them? Do they need to be cultured up some? Are there any commercial varieties or sours that work particularly well? Any varieties that do poorly (perhaps due to pasteurization or unfavorable shipping conditions)?
 

RPh_Guy

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If you want a lot of sourness the best thing to do is give Lacto a chance to ferment the wort first either by itself or co-pitched at a fairly warm temperature (e.g. 75F for Wyeast 3278).

Don't worry about under-pitching Sacc. A lot of folks get good results following the recommended process of pitching the blend without a starter.

A multi-phase fermentation would be Lacto, and then Sacc, and then Brett/Pedio. This process allows you more control and might finish faster.
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Mixed_Fermentation#Modern_Method_-_Fast_Fermentation

Dregs are great for adding diversity, or if you really like the character in a particular sour beer with live dregs. However any microbes you get from the dregs might be only a small subset of the microbes used to ferment the beer and definitely won't be in the same proportions.
You CAN make a starter from dregs to see if they're alive but this isn't necessary since you're mainly interested in the Brett for which cell count doesn't really matter.
https://www.themadfermentationist.com/2010/06/harvesting-sour-beer-bottle-dregs.html
https://www.themadfermentationist.com/p/dreg-list.html

Think this covers all your questions :)
Cheers
 
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Kent88

Kent88

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Thank you.

So if I was to pitch a neutral strain before adding 3278 I would probably want to just not smack the pack, or just add the vial to the wort with no starter. Or maybe just give the yeast minimal time with a starter, I'm thinking just enough time so that I know the yeast is alive, but not to build up cell count after that.

Why is it most sour brewers I'm reading about are writing that it should be a neutral ale strain? Why not a belgian strain? Or a hybrid strain, I saw somewhere that Wyeast 1007 would be good for Berliner Weisse, why not for a lambic-style?

Dregs seem to be kind of an unpredictable, but so does the whole process. I get the impression that it usually doesn't add enough to the process to make it worthwhile for a beginner. It really just sounds like if I was to be sharing some nice sours with some friends around the time I wanted to inoculate the beer with the bugs, I would be careful and save dregs from a couple bottles to use, give them a little time in a starter, and that would be the way to do it.

Still debating about whether to use 3278 or add each one separately. Here are the two plans I'm mulling over:
  1. Use a neutral ale strain, wait for krausen to finish, maybe rack to secondary, add 3278 once the blowoff hose is no longer needed or transfer onto it.
  2. Add lacto, wait about a day (trying to keep it a little warm); add the neutral ale strain, wait about a week; maybe rack to secondary, add the pedio and brett.
Are these reasonable methods to get a the kind of style I'm hoping for?
 

RPh_Guy

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For microbe blends, just do what the manufacturer suggests. If it's a smack pack go ahead and activate it :)

People do use belgian yeasts ... I don't think there's a wrong choice. Of course the focus is on the Brett character in a Lambic, so you don't necessarily want an overpowering Sacc strain.

Dregs can be added at any point so you don't need to decide now. I've heard of people that carry around sterile vials for collecting dregs on the go.
Professional Lambic brewers blend many different barrels to achieve complexity. Adding dregs is a more practical method for homebrewers to achieve this goal, but it's not necessary.

Both methods you describe are legit options.

How much sour you prefer, how much Brett character diversity you want, whether you want ease vs control ... these all may influence your process. Sort of like step mashing or building a water profile there are a hundred ways to do it.
 
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Kent88

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Thanks for the help. I finally got a chance to make this. A 6-gallon batch that used 4.5lbs wheat DME, 3lbs pils DME (time issues kept me from doing a mash with straight pilsner malt instead of the Pils DME portion), and a few ounces of maltodextrine for the brett.

I ended up with this inoculation schedule:
  1. Add WY5335 to mostly chilled wort
  2. After roughly 12 hours, add WY1007
  3. After another roughly 24 hours (and a strong krausen had formed) add WY5733 and WY5151PC
Perhaps 5151 was an odd choice here, but I'm planning to rack half of this onto some raspberries next year, so I figured that the fruity character might be ok. Might keep some unfruited so I can see how off-style it is, in case I ever feel like entering a contest.

Was planning to wait another day before step three but life got in the way. Krausen got a bit out of control so waiting another day would have been helpful.
 
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Kent88

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Did you measure the pH at any point?
Nope. I wish I had but I figured that, as I wasn't doing a mash, there wasn't much of a reason to get the pH meter out. Plus I'm not completely ready to dedicate the thief and test jar to sour-only use.

But I was curious about the pre-saccharomyces addition wort pH. After I get some other beer to reach terminal gravity and get it bottled, I'll be checking it out.

I don't need to concern myself about autolysis, right? I can just let that sit on the trub/lees until I want to rack onto some fruit?
 

RPh_Guy

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I was curious about the pre-saccharomyces addition wort pH.
Me too ;)
You could taste it after the main fermentation to get an idea of how much it soured from Lacto.

Pedio should sour it plenty even if Lacto didn't, so it doesn't matter too much.

Correct, autolysis is not a concern, and leaving it on the trub probably helps develop flavor.

BTW, I don't think there's anything wrong with fruity Brett character. A lot of my favorite Brett beers are fruity with a touch of horsey/barnyard. The BJCP style guide says only enteric, smokey, cigar, and cheesy flavors are unfavorable.
 
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Kent88

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I've been reading that I should pay extra attention to keeping my fermenter topped-up to keep oxygen ingress under control. But I'm still not ready to dedicate plastic equipment to this so I wouldn't siphon it in. Would pouring in some wort to top it off be a good idea, or would the aeration from that sort of defeat the purpose?
 

RPh_Guy

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Are you using glass? If so, I wouldn't worry about headspace unless you're unwilling to risk any acetic character.

You could drain in wort/beer with tubing (via siphon or spigot) and then toss the tubing.

Depending on your comfort level, I think a soak in 50ppm iodophor should cleanse the microbe mix from equipment after short contact. That or a no-rinse concentration bleach/vinegar solution.

Here are my current sours:
IMG_0684.JPG

I want good Brett flavor (via micro-oxygenation) and I'm OK with a little acetic note if it develops, otherwise I'll be adding malt vinegar to the flanders. The small one in glass is mead.

Cheers
 

toddo97

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Are you using glass? If so, I wouldn't worry about headspace unless you're unwilling to risk any acetic character.

You could drain in wort/beer with tubing (via siphon or spigot) and then toss the tubing.

Depending on your comfort level, I think a soak in 50ppm iodophor should cleanse the microbe mix from equipment after short contact. That or a no-rinse concentration bleach/vinegar solution.

Here are my current sours:
View attachment 580968
I want good Brett flavor (via micro-oxygenation) and I'm OK with a little acetic note if it develops, otherwise I'll be adding malt vinegar to the flanders. The small one in glass is mead.

Cheers
Are those solid bungs in your fermenters or those spendy no liquid airlocks?
 

RPh_Guy

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One-way breathable silicone airlocks.
Worth EVERY penny imo.

Fermonsters (which I also love) flex when I move them and this airlock eliminates any suckback, among other advantages.
 
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Kent88

Kent88

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It is fermenting in glass and I wouldn't be concerned if this was something that was only going to ferment for a few months, but I'm thinking it will be a year before I do anything with it. I don't think there is a ton of headspace, but I left a little because krausen (no blowoff tube and it did go crazy).

I don't have iodophor. Would campden tablets work?
 

RPh_Guy

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Would campden tablets work?
Yes, but might be more trouble than it's worth. 2.1 ppm molecular SO2 kills Brett and I cant find levels to kill bacteria but I'd guess much less than that.

Ethanol at 70% kills everything within 15 seconds :)
 
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