Wild or just crazy?

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I have a yeast I harvested from a bottle. The label claimed they harvested the yeast from sealing wax from an antique piece of furniture. I was successful, as far as I know, meaning I enjoyed the flavor of the beer and didn't get a tummy ache.

Am I correct to assume its likely the yeast is wild, or at least in its origins? I've brewed with it twice. The results were a very tart, maybe even sour beer. I've also noted that the yeast did not flocculate well.

So, based on what I consider success, I've plucked some cherries off trees in my yard. The first starter had activity, but smelled god awful. I can't even describe the smell other than it smelled like something died. I ran it through a strainer, to get the fruit out, threw some more wort in and put it on the stir plate and left it be for a bit. Whatever I did seems to have worked. Now it smells palatable, more like the above noted "wild" yeast.

When the first one smelled so awful, I picked some more cherries and made another starter. While this one did not smell anywhere near as awful as the first one, it does have a noticeable vinegar smell. I'm going to let it keep goins and see if it works itself out like the first starter seems to have.

Questions: Do wild yeasts make sours under normal brewing conditions (make wort, pitch yeast, primary 4 weeks, bottle condition for 2)?

What does a vinegar smell suggest, and is it likely to work itself out?

What can I do about the cloudiness? I don't mind a bit of cloudiness, but its a bit much.

Thanks for any comments, answers, suggestions!
 

RPh_Guy

Bringing Sour Back
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Am I correct to assume its likely the yeast is wild, or at least in its origins?
Yep.

Do wild yeasts make sours under normal brewing conditions (make wort, pitch yeast, primary 4 weeks, bottle condition for 2)?
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are generally responsible for producing the sourness. Any wild mixed culture would be expected to have LAB, so yes, a beer with a wild culture will sour if there is a sufficiently low level of hops. Hops inhibit the LAB.

FYI 4 weeks is generally not enough time for a wild/spontaneous fermentation to be considered shelf stable. You may end up with over-carbonation or bombs. 2-3 months would be more safe and what I would consider the minimum, unless the s.g. is very low before then.

What does a vinegar smell suggest, and is it likely to work itself out?
Vinegar (acetic acid) is a natural aerobic fermentation product of many wild microbes. If you prevent excessive oxygen exposure during and after fermentation, the level of acetic acid in your batch will be very low.

What can I do about the cloudiness? I don't mind a bit of cloudiness, but its a bit much.
There are a couple options to promote clarity. My suggestion is to lager (long cold storage), or better yet, just accept that it will be cloudy because wild microbes generally do not flocculate well, or at all.
 
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Dale Owen
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Thanks! Its very helpful getting some feed back on this. Don't know why I'm so taken with wild yeast, but I'm learning a lot in the process!
 
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