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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: s rails on July 20, 2012, 07:28:00 AM

Title: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 20, 2012, 07:28:00 AM
On a recent vacation I met with a Head Brewer at a brewery that shall remain nameless (I didn't check if I could share his technique).  He was making a Lacto soured beer.  The technique is to keep the wort in the kettle holding the temp somewhere between 100 F and 120 F and innoculating with a Lacto culture from Wyeast.   Once he reaches his desired sourness he boils the wort and ferments it.  This way equipment is not in contact with a live Lacto culture.  I liked the idea so I decided to replicate it home brew style.  I mashed my Berliner Weiss tonight.  Ran it off into my kettle, held a temp of 180 F for 15 minutes (thank you Chad from Crooked Stave and the BN), cooled it to 120 F and then ran it into an extra 5 gallon round Igloo I had.  The Igloo is filled to the top, the temp is 117 F.  I pitched the White Labs WLP677.  I had read in Wild Brews that it is critical to keep oxygen levels as low as possible for Lacto or to prevent Acetobactor.  So I took plastic wrap and covered the wort; pushing the wrap down until it touches the wort.  I then placed the Iglo top securely on and left it.

Now my question-Will the Lacto produce a gas like CO2 that might build some pressure?  I'm concerned if it does it will blow the lid or something.  Long story short question. 
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: morticaixavier on July 20, 2012, 03:00:13 PM
IANAMB (I Am Not A Micro Biologist) but I think that lacto does not produce significant gasses. When I make yogurt it doesn't build any presure in the little cups.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 20, 2012, 03:07:58 PM
I thought the same thing.  I have made yogurt before and had seen no gasses like a yeast fermentation creates.  I asked because I was on the Mad Fermantationist website and read about his 100% Lacto Berliner Weisse experiment.  It looked like there was a lot of CO2 coming out of the fermenter.

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html (http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html)
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 20, 2012, 03:19:04 PM
I just sent the following email to White Labs

I inoculated  wort with WLP677 in a 5 gallon round Iglo water cooler last night.  I left very little head space and even placed plastic wrap across the wort to keep out oxygen.  I then securely placed the lid on.  The wort was at 117 F when I pitched the vial.  I am concerned about possible pressure build up in the closed system.  I wanted to know if WLP677 will produce any gas while creating lactic acid?  Should I be venting gas somehow to avoid blowing the lid off the Iglo or worse?

I will post the response.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on July 20, 2012, 03:19:58 PM
Lactobacillus makes CO2. Everything living I know of produces CO2 as part of its metabolism, but I'm not a biologist so I could be wrong. In any case, my sour worts appear to produce about as much CO2 as a yeast would.

EDIT: I forgot about plants. Those don't produce CO2.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kramerog on July 20, 2012, 03:28:08 PM
If I recall Wild Brews correctly, Lacto Delbruekii, which I assume is what you got, produces 1 molecule of CO2 for each molecule of lactic acid.  I'll try to remember to check at home.  Different lactos do different things so experience with yoghurt may not be that helpful.

Anyway Igloo coolers generally allow air in and out so you can drain cold water through the bottom tap.  So I wouldn't worry about the lid blowing off unless you did something to block the vent.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: gmac on July 20, 2012, 03:59:51 PM

EDIT: I forgot about plants. Those don't produce CO2.

Actually you were right the first time.  At night plants release CO2 because of cellular respiration.  But, it's less than they take in during active photosynthesis so it's a net negative but you were right that they do produce CO2.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: morticaixavier on July 20, 2012, 04:56:48 PM
I thought the same thing.  I have made yogurt before and had seen no gasses like a yeast fermentation creates.  I asked because I was on the Mad Fermantationist website and read about his 100% Lacto Berliner Weisse experiment.  It looked like there was a lot of CO2 coming out of the fermenter.

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html (http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html)

100% lacto? so it's non-alcoholic? just basically a lactic acid drink?

**EDIT** so I read the link.  I did not know that lacto could produce alcohol. learn something new every day!
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: Jimmy K on July 23, 2012, 01:50:20 PM

EDIT: I forgot about plants. Those don't produce CO2.

Actually you were right the first time.  At night plants release CO2 because of cellular respiration.  But, it's less than they take in during active photosynthesis so it's a net negative but you were right that they do produce CO2.

That's true.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on July 23, 2012, 02:44:13 PM
If you haven't tried using wild lacto, it might be a good way to save a few bucks. Those lacto cultures from the yeast lab aren't cheap. I'll make a starter of 2-3L, add dextrose to 1.040 or so, then add 1/2 cup of base grain. If you keep it hot, it'll be sour in a day. Pitch that into the wort, then the wort will be tart in about 24 hours, sour in 48, and really sour in 72. That the procedure I use on all my sour beers. I haven't used a commercial culture, so I can't compare the two, but my way works "well enough" for me.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: erockrph on July 23, 2012, 04:08:53 PM
I've been saying to myself "I'm not ready to jump into sour beers quite yet" for a while now, but I think this thread has changed my mind. It sounds like I can use this technique with no further equipment needed. Raspberry Berliner, here I come.

  Ran it off into my kettle, held a temp of 180 F for 15 minutes (thank you Chad from Crooked Stave and the BN), cooled it to 120 F and then ran it into an extra 5 gallon round Igloo I had.  The Igloo is filled to the top, the temp is 117 F.  I pitched the White Labs WLP677.

What is the purpose for bringing the temp up to 180? Do you really need to pasteurize the wort if you're planning on souring it anyways?

My thought was to simply pull the grain bag from my cooler after the mash was finished (I use BIAB in a 5-gallon cooler), add enough cool water to bring the temp to 120, then pitch the lacto. Once it hits the sourness level I like, I'd run off to my brew kettle and boil.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: Jimmy K on July 23, 2012, 04:38:36 PM
Mash temperatures are probably hot enough to kill all the lacto present but not other mean and terrible bugs. Given the proportions of grain in a mash there are probably plenty of them in there.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on July 23, 2012, 05:55:54 PM
I've read the horror stories of clostridium (sweaty socks / vomit) infections from sour-mashing. I don't know what's going on with those. The way I sour the wort after making a sour starter from grain has never given me any noticeable levels of anything unpleasant. I've done it that way about 10 times now, fwiw.

I just run-off my mash at whatever mash temp was (150 or so) then let it cool to 110-120, pitch my sour starter, then keep the bucket wrapped with a towel and a heater belt for 2-3 days.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 24, 2012, 02:23:32 PM
Here's my question and then the answer I received from White Labs:

White Labs,

I inoculated  wort with WLP677 in a 5 gallon round Iglo water cooler last night.  I left very little head space and even placed plastic wrap across the wort to keep out oxygen.  I then securely placed the lid on.  The wort was at 117 F when I pitched the vial.  I am concerned about possible pressure build up in the closed system.  I wanted to know if WLP677 will produce any gas while creating lactic acid?  Should I be venting gas somehow to avoid blowing the lid off the Iglo or worse?

Hi Sean,

    Lactic acid production will produce some CO2 so it's probably best to have some sort of pressure relief in your Igloo cooler, or just put the lid on loosely so the CO2 can escape.  The last thing you want is a sour beer bomb in your house!
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on July 24, 2012, 02:47:59 PM
The technique is to keep the wort in the kettle holding the temp somewhere between 100 F and 120 F and innoculating with a Lacto culture from Wyeast.   Once he reaches his desired sourness he boils the wort and ferments it. 

How long was he (and are you) tying up your kettle to get the desired sourness?

For a commercial brewery, that sounds like a really big drain on production time. Especially since they are already buying lactic cultures (not just relying on culturing lacto from the grain).
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 24, 2012, 04:19:31 PM
Update-  The sour worting in the Iglo was a failure. To quote from my Facebook page, "The experiment smells like failure. Sophia walked into the garage and said she thought we had dirty diapers in a diaper genie. A bad sign since that's a smell associated with enterobacter. Not good. At a double header Futsal game will check it when I get home." 

I definately had an enterobacter infection (the smell was more then horrible- think of super ripe diapers). The bad wort went down the gutter. On day two I didn't have any ph change so I threw some two row in.  The ph was at 4.0 by the next morning but the infection had already taken hold.   Who knows how I got it; just need to prevent it going forward.

What I've learned- the bad bugs can't reproduce below 4.3 ph, survive without oxygen, or with 2% alcohol present (all in Wild Brews; pg 115).  When I pitched a single vial in 5 gallons I didn't pitch enough.  Make a starter (give the lacto a head start).  Chad Yacobson of Crooked Stave recommended bringing the wort up to 180 F for 15 minutes to give yourself a blank slate to work with (on the Brewing Network interview).   

I will try again this week- big lacto starter, big yeast starter (Wild Brews states saccharomyces can't reproduce below 4.5 ph; pg 115).  I will make a wort again, bring it to 180F for 15 minutes, drop to 110F, pitch the lacto starter, cover the wort with CO2, seal the fermenter with an air lock, place in my garage (over 100F right now), wait at least 48 hours to check ph and taste, if satisfied with souring pitch yeast after droping temp to 68F.  I have added 10% acidulated malt to get the ph down as well in the grist.  My grist is 50% pilsner/two row, 40% wheat malt, 10% acidulated (Wheat by Stan H is another good book with tips on BW and Gose).  I will be adding raspberries if all goes well (haven't determined how much yet).  This will not be to style since I expect a abv close to 6%; guess I will call it an Imperial.  I plan on updating so others can get some ideas.  By no means would I say this is the only way to sour a beer, so I wouldn't argue with all the other processes mentioned.

The question about the commercial brewery-  This is a brew pub.  They have a limited number of fermenters and all appeared to be in use.  I didn't ask since I hadn't tried this yet about how long it ties up the equipment.  I asked how long it took to get to where he wanted it and he said he checks using a wine tritrate kit and when its done he boils like a normal beer.  I assume maybe a day or two.  I think they must pitch a large amount of lacto to do the work.  This beer beat Russian River Supplication and Allagash Mattina Rossa for the gold at the 2012 world beer cup in the American Sour Category.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: reverseapachemaster on July 24, 2012, 04:20:57 PM
The technique is to keep the wort in the kettle holding the temp somewhere between 100 F and 120 F and innoculating with a Lacto culture from Wyeast.   Once he reaches his desired sourness he boils the wort and ferments it. 

How long was he (and are you) tying up your kettle to get the desired sourness?

For a commercial brewery, that sounds like a really big drain on production time. Especially since they are already buying lactic cultures (not just relying on culturing lacto from the grain).

You still want the heat to accelerate lacto performance. As you point out, there's no need to hit a certain temperature to try to help lacto outperform and crowd out less desirable bacteria but the heat will still make it ferment quicker so he will actually lose less production time keeping it warm than letting it sit at room temperature.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: reverseapachemaster on July 24, 2012, 04:30:11 PM
Update-  The sour worting in the Iglo was a failure. To quote from my Facebook page, "The experiment smells like failure. Sophia walked into the garage and said she thought we had dirty diapers in a diaper genie. A bad sign since that's a smell associated with enterobacter. Not good. At a double header Futsal game will check it when I get home." 

I definately had an enterobacter infection (the smell was more then horrible- think of super ripe diapers). The bad wort went down the gutter. On day two I didn't have any ph change so I threw some two row in.  The ph was at 4.0 by the next morning but the infection had already taken hold.   Who knows how I got it; just need to prevent it going forward.

What I've learned- the bad bugs can't survive below 4.3 ph, without oxygen, or with 2% alcohol present (all in Wild Brews; pg 115).  When I pitched a single vial in 5 gallons I didn't pitch enough.  Make a starter (give the lacto a head start).  Chad Yacobson of Crooked Stave recommended bringing the wort up to 180 F for 15 minutes to give yourself a blank slate to work with (on the Brewing Network interview).   

I mash like a clean beer, sparge, bring it to a full boil, cool to 115F and toss in grain. Once it is sufficiently sour I reboil then treat it like a regular beer. Often I sour wort only part of the wort and let it go for several days and then add it at the beginning of the boil. Never had a problem with nastiness. I do my sour worts in a growler (so you can see why it's easier to just sour part) but I fill it into the neck so there is very little oxygen contact. That is probably where you are going wrong with the igloo. I would recommend souring in a glass carboy or some other container with a very small opening or at a minimum use saran wrap over the top of the liquid in your cooler and push out all the air bubbles so there is next to no exposure.

Also, make sure you're not dumping a sour wort that smells the way it should, even if it doesn't smell delightful. A sour wort will stink a bit. I think it smells like rotten creamed corn. Others have said sour milk, sour grains, etc. It's not a great smell but it should be distinctly different from a vomit or fecal smell. Before you think it's gone bad, really ask yourself whether that smell reminds you of creamed corn gone bad. If it does, you are ok. The smell will go away after fermentation. I promise.

If you end up with a bad vomit or fecal smell and you're especially daring, you could do what Chad also talked about in that interview. Pitch brett. It will convert the foulness into interesting flavors. I've never done it but if somebody would know whether it works, it would be him.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on July 24, 2012, 04:53:46 PM
That is really weird. I've never had a sour wort that smelled like anything but sauerkraut. I remember reading something about how the yeast-lab Brett strains don't come with very many cells, compared to a Sacc. yeast. I suspect your Lacto culture was just too small to out-compete the other bugs. One of the benefits to using a starter is you can smell/taste it before you use it to make sure your bugs are working correctly.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 25, 2012, 03:39:05 AM
Tonight I tried again.  This time I made a liter starter for the lactobacillus (apple juice) 2 days in advance.  It had lots of carbon dioxide activity.  I also put the 100 F wort in a fermenter, purged with carbon dioxide until the Star San dissipated.  Finally I placed a one way gas valve on the fermenter.  I should get the souring results I want.

I heard Chad say the same thing about butyric acid and Brett.  I got to tell you this was BAD!  The Igloo has been ruined and is permeated with the awful smell.  Not even worth the try to me.

I will update just in case some else searches this thread on the subject.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 25, 2012, 01:44:46 PM
Good news- I have lots of carbon dioxide activity this morning in the carboy.  I checked the ph using strips but it isn't at the high end of the strips yet at 4.4 ph.  I tasted it; little tangy and still sweet.  I'll post once I get around 4.0 or 3.8 ph.  It smells much better; slightly fruity.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: Jimmy K on July 25, 2012, 02:09:09 PM
Good news. Are you basing your decision to stop souring only on pH? I'd taste it too.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: s rails on July 25, 2012, 02:16:40 PM
No, I'll taste. I just want to get below 4.3 ph so the bad bugs can't reproduce.  The last experiment was a little unsettling and I don't want to repeat it.  The smell has ruined my Igloo and I'd feel better knowing those bugs are not going to be a problem.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kramerog on July 25, 2012, 03:12:44 PM
No, I'll taste. I just want to get below 4.3 ph so the bad bugs can't reproduce.  The last experiment was a little unsettling and I don't want to repeat it.  The smell has ruined my Igloo and I'd feel better knowing those bugs are not going to be a problem.

I've reused a mash tun that contained a mash that smelled like vomit without problems.  Others have too.  I even made a no boil Berliner Weiss using the mash tun.  Just clean well and use some sanitizer.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kramerog on July 25, 2012, 03:17:53 PM

 I do my sour worts in a growler (so you can see why it's easier to just sour part) but I fill it into the neck so there is very little oxygen contact. That is probably where you are going wrong with the igloo. I would recommend souring in a glass carboy or some other container with a very small opening or at a minimum use saran wrap over the top of the liquid in your cooler and push out all the air bubbles so there is next to no exposure.


Lacto is tolerant to low levels of oxygen and warm wort should be low in oxygen.  I've soured 10-gallon batches of Berliner Weiss in my 15-gal brew kettle successfully without taking any special precautions such as purging the headspace or covering the surface with foil.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: erockrph on July 25, 2012, 03:36:11 PM
What kind of pH adjustment are you guys doing on your mash/wort with this method? I was thinking that if you use a high percentage of acidulated malt and/or use a big addition of phosphoric or lactic acid to get the pH lower than normal then you may give your lacto bugs a bit of a head start to outcompete any nasties.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: tom on July 25, 2012, 09:51:53 PM
That's what I do.  I make a 2L sour mash and lacto starter and lower the pH to less than 4.3 with lactic acid and keep it at 100-120F for 3 days.  Then do the same with the full mash
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on July 26, 2012, 06:13:15 PM
The newest Basic Brewing Radio is an interview with a guy who does a sour-mash BW.

He mentions that his sour mash smells terrible but does not taste terrible. He mentions in 48 hours the bad smell dies down (a bit) and does not at all carry through to the finished beer.

A few other BBR shows have covered sour worts with similar results, one of which being a commercial brewery (Upright) who sours a bit of their mash in a cooler overnight. He says the brewery smells very "ripe" in the morning, but it also doesnt carry that flavor through.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: rjharper on August 09, 2012, 01:14:40 PM
I've been sour worting my first attempt at a Berliner Weisse.  I added an ounce of lactic acid to the wort to drop the initial pH down, and 4oz of grain.  I purged the headspace of the brewpot with CO2 and covered it with saran wrap.  After 36 hrs of keeping it at 90F +/- 5F its smells (and tastes) nicely sour, no off notes in the nose, the SG has dropped from 1.044 to 1.036 (partial boil, recipe OG target was 1.031) and the pH is somewhere between 3.0 and 3.5 (I don't have the most precise dip strips).  I'll do the 15 min boil tonight, and off to the fermenter, lacto bug free...
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: erockrph on August 09, 2012, 02:44:27 PM
Has anyone who has used this method gone too low on the wort pH where regular ale yeast just won't finish out fermentation? Or does the lacto stop before you get to that point?
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on August 09, 2012, 03:01:11 PM
Using this method I can get pH down into the mid 2s. Typically it's 2.5-2.8, which is below what yeast likes. I generally sour wort and blend 50/50 to get my batch pH into the mid 3s. You're looking at around 50% attenuation in the mid 2s, which on a Berliner Weisse or sour Wit is fine, but maybe not on a bigger beer.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: erockrph on August 09, 2012, 03:30:14 PM
Using this method I can get pH down into the mid 2s. Typically it's 2.5-2.8, which is below what yeast likes. I generally sour wort and blend 50/50 to get my batch pH into the mid 3s. You're looking at around 50% attenuation in the mid 2s, which on a Berliner Weisse or sour Wit is fine, but maybe not on a bigger beer.

Good info. I can't always easily brew on schedule, so I was a bit worried about overshooting on pH. Sounds like I could just add water/DME to get me back to where I wanted if necessary.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: Jimmy K on August 09, 2012, 05:00:59 PM
I can tell you that a friend did a 36 hour sour mash. It was very tart and still fermented.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: rjharper on August 13, 2012, 11:21:13 PM
I did a 48 sour mash on a partial boil recipe. The pH dropped to 3.5, then I did the boil for 15 and hopped it.  I pitched a fresh vial of WLP001 and nothing. I figured 3 gal at 1.031 would be sufficient for a direct pitch. After 24 hrs nothing, so I added a cup of WLP001 slurry from a previous batch that had been in the fridge for a bit.  Another 24hrs and nothing. I added some DAP nutirient incase the lacto didnt leave anything. After another 24 hrs, still nothing. So in a last gasp, I "broke the glass" and added my emergencrgy sachet of S05. Finally after 96hrs from first pitch I have active fermentation, but no real krausen to speak of.

OG was 1.031. Lacto took it to 1.022. SG is now down to 1.012 and still going. This thing scared me. My two cents, pitch a lot of active yeast at high krausen and feed with plenty nutrient. The harsh acid environment is not where you want to wake up a bunch of sleepy Sacch...
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on August 14, 2012, 03:34:07 PM
Using this method I can get pH down into the mid 2s.

Wow, that's impressive! Do you pre-acidify to a certain point?
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: nateo on August 14, 2012, 05:31:11 PM
Using this method I can get pH down into the mid 2s.

Wow, that's impressive! Do you pre-acidify to a certain point?

No pre-souring, just a 1-3L sour starter made from dextrose and base grain kept in the 100*s for a few days. Then I add it to the wort, and keep the wort hot for 2-3 days.

Lately though I've been just taking off the wort that I need from my souring bucket and adding fresh wort to replace it. I don't totally drain the bucket and a lot of the lacto stays stuck to the sides of the bucket. So that's basically like pre-souring I guess.
Title: Re: Sour Worting
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on August 16, 2012, 06:50:30 PM
Ah - like a plastic bucket horny tank. I've been throwing that idea around for awhile. Now Im collecting/enjoying commercial sours for the initial pitch.