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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 03:21:41 PM

Title: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 03:21:41 PM
Collected a couple gallons recently from a high gravity brew session to use as a yeast starter. Never got around to actually pitching the yeast so the wort sat around outside for a couple of weeks covered in foil. I decided to wait and see what happened and it started showing signs of fermentation this weekend. Its at high krausen now, and it smells actually pretty awesome! Kind of reminds me of a saison.

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/PICT0037.jpg)

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/PICT0038.jpg)

I'm going to let it ferment to completion and if it turns out half way decent I may use it for a saison in the next few weeks.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: denny on March 30, 2010, 03:45:18 PM
Cool!  I've never had any luck with that, but a friend made a great sour beer with a yeast that was spontaneously generated.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: bluesman on March 30, 2010, 04:00:37 PM
Should be interesting indeed. I'll be curious to hear your findings. I'm sure some "stuff" was occurring in the wort while sitting around.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 04:19:04 PM
Cool!  I've never had any luck with that, but a friend made a great sour beer with a yeast that was spontaneously generated.

My previous attempts have been awful as well. I'm starting to wonder if some residual yeast didn't carry over from a previous starter. This smells way too clean.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: karlh on March 30, 2010, 04:26:13 PM
We have a club member here in the Northern Chicago suburbs who did a similar experiment and produced 5 gallons of beer with a "spontaneous" yeast cultured from a dish of wort left in the backyard.  The results were interesting.  I asked a friend who is a professor of microbiology about this type of experiment and she advised that there are a number of pathogenic organisms that can ferment a sugary liquid besides yeast.  Her basic advice was that it might simply be yeast, but it also could be something that could make you very sick or even kill you.  If it's somewhere in between, you might serve the beer with a caveat that anyone who has a somewhat compromised immune system might not want to try your "experimental" brew.  I have decided that its pretty difficult asking people about the status of their immune system when I am serving them beer.

I tend to be more cautious with these types of experiments, and use commercial cultures for all of my sour beer experiments simply because I feel safer knowing exactly what is in my beer.  
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: akr71 on March 30, 2010, 04:42:15 PM
...  I asked a friend who is a professor of microbiology about this type of experiment and she advised that there are a number of pathogenic organisms that can ferment a sugary liquid besides yeast.  Her basic advice was that it might simply be yeast, but it also could be something that could make you very sick or even kill you...

What happened to 'No known human pathogens can survive in beer'?

I googled 'pathogens in beer' and get a dozen articles that say the same thing.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 06:20:07 PM
Yeah, I'm not worried about any harmful organism surviving the fermentation. If that was the case the human race would have died off millions of years ago. For thousands of years beer has been safer to drink than water, for a reason.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: glitterbug on March 30, 2010, 07:03:14 PM
Yeah, I'm not worried about any harmful organism surviving the fermentation. If that was the case the human race would have died off millions of years ago. For thousands of years beer has been safer to drink than water, for a reason.

Be careful. Bad homebrew was the leading cause of dinosaur extinction.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: narvin on March 30, 2010, 07:06:58 PM
Microbiologists are paranoid.  I'm not saying it can't happen, but they tend to see infection everywhere.  Much like my oncologist/radiation therapist friends see cancer everywhere...

Given the history of spontaneous fermentation, I'd be more concerned about the beer tasting like crap than killing you.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 07:26:57 PM

Be careful. Bad homebrew was the leading cause of dinosaur extinction.

LOL!

BTW, that is definitely a yeast fermentation going on there. Bacteria fermentations do not look anything like a yeast fermentation. Not saying something else isn't probably swimming around in there, though.  ;)

Also, while we are on the topic, there are still breweries doing spontaneous fermentation today.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: bluesman on March 30, 2010, 08:00:11 PM

Be careful. Bad homebrew was the leading cause of dinosaur extinction.

LOL!

BTW, that is definitely a yeast fermentation going on there. Bacteria fermentations do not look anything like a yeast fermentation. Not saying something else isn't probably swimming around in there, though.  ;)

Also, while we are on the topic, there are still breweries doing spontaneous fermentation today.

Now you are going to need a microscope to examine your bugs.  ;D
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: Kaiser on March 30, 2010, 08:10:03 PM
Some of the wort stability tests I have done in the past ended up as yeast fermentation while others were bacteria fermentations. I as I see it, yeast is naturally a large source of contamination in any brewery.

Kai
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: narvin on March 30, 2010, 08:11:02 PM
And remember... Brett is a yeast :)
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 30, 2010, 08:24:28 PM
Some of the wort stability tests I have done in the past ended up as yeast fermentation while others were bacteria fermentations. I as I see it, yeast is naturally a large source of contamination in any brewery.

Kai

Yeah, but bacteria fermentations don't look the same as yeast fermentations.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: karlh on March 31, 2010, 05:53:43 PM
...  I asked a friend who is a professor of microbiology about this type of experiment and she advised that there are a number of pathogenic organisms that can ferment a sugary liquid besides yeast.  Her basic advice was that it might simply be yeast, but it also could be something that could make you very sick or even kill you...

What happened to 'No known human pathogens can survive in beer'?

I googled 'pathogens in beer' and get a dozen articles that say the same thing.
In my old club, we had a barrel experiment that soured unexpectedly.  Since I had access to the micro lab at the time, we plated the beer, cultured what came out of it, and found a strep bacteria as well as another spore forming bacteria.  Ultimately we came to the conclusion that one of the bacteria probably came as a result from an individual mouth siphoning.  According to the same micro professor, they were both known human pathogens, and though they were not especially harmful to a healthy individual they could potentially be harmful to someone with a distressed immune system. 
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on March 31, 2010, 06:39:07 PM
Gross. Still, I have a hard time believing that anything harmful could live in beer. If this were the case people would be getting sick all the time and beer would not be a stable product. Not saying your wrong, just saying it goes against the evidence.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: lostralph on March 31, 2010, 11:52:22 PM
Already fermented beer with hops is resistant to other microbes.  Wort before the yeast have a chance to build a colony is sugar water waiting for bugs to come eat it.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: tubercle on March 31, 2010, 11:59:17 PM
Don't forget that yeast product alcohol which is a disinfectant. When Alch gets high enough it starts killing those nasty critters but the yeast can still tolerate. That's one reason a quick start to a fermentation is desirable, to keep the weak and infirmed at bay.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: karlh on April 01, 2010, 06:23:36 PM
Gross. Still, I have a hard time believing that anything harmful could live in beer. If this were the case people would be getting sick all the time and beer would not be a stable product. Not saying your wrong, just saying it goes against the evidence.
Keep in mind that theres a difference between wort and beer.  If you culture something from your backyard and put it in 5 gallons of wort, it may or may not become beer.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: narvin on April 01, 2010, 06:37:25 PM

According to the same micro professor, they were both known human pathogens, and though they were not especially harmful to a healthy individual they could potentially be harmful to someone with a distressed immune system. 

Isn't everything in life potentially harmful to someone with a distressed immune system?  I'm supposed to give up my dream of fermenting with elephant dung to appease these people??
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on April 02, 2010, 10:47:43 AM
Gross. Still, I have a hard time believing that anything harmful could live in beer. If this were the case people would be getting sick all the time and beer would not be a stable product. Not saying your wrong, just saying it goes against the evidence.
Keep in mind that theres a difference between wort and beer.  If you culture something from your backyard and put it in 5 gallons of wort, it may or may not become beer.

There's a huge difference between a yeast and a bacteria fermentation. What I have going on here is definitely a yeast fermentation. It's twin sister (another flask I left beside it) did not fair as healthy. It develoed a funky looking, mucusy looking slime and dots of mold on the surface. I haven't smelled it yet but, yeah, I wouldn't drink that. I will smell it for grins once it comes along a little further. The other wort took off like a normal fermentation and smells very clean, if not a little bretty.

Be very careful NOT to ever go to belgium if you are afraid of critters in your beer.  Like I said in earlier posts, there are some breweries who still perform some spontaneous fermentations. Even Russian River has experimented with some and blended them into the beers they serve to the public.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: karlh on April 03, 2010, 04:44:27 PM
I have no problems with critters in beer. I just think that random critters can have potential dangers.  My reading about lambics has more than once mentioned the so-called "enteric" phase of fermentation has potential hazards associated with it, does not produce desirable flavors or characteristics, and that the commerical producers try to avoid these forms of microbes (despite the "spontaneous" nature of lambic fermenation.  It is for this reason that the commerical yeast banks do not include the "enteric" bacteria in their blends, and authors like Sparrow advise us to avoid these.  I agree that a finished lambic will not harbor living enteric bacteria, even if they were present in early fermentation, but lacking the capability to figure out whether the beer has anything harmful in it, I choose to avoid random bugs. 
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: majorvices on April 05, 2010, 11:36:57 AM
Well, now we are just arguing.  ;) I'll say it one more time, people have been drinking spontaneous fermented beverages for thousands of years. Beers have been picking up infections for thousands of years. Homebrewers have been picking up infections in beer every since people have brewed in home. If it were so easy for pathogens to take up residency in beer people would be dropping like flies. Microbrews all across the country served obviously infected beers all across the states in the late 80s all the way through the 90s. There are breweries and homebrewers experimenting with spontaneous fermentation all over the country, most notably Russian River. It's a lot safer that you make it out to be.

I'm going to let this thing go to completion and, if it smells good, I may make a beer out of it. If it smells and tastes bad I'm going to dump it. Really, it doesn't scare me in any way, shape or form. There are way more harmful forms of bacteria lurking in everyday places where you touch or eat than you will ever find in a fully fermented batch of any beer anywhere.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: akr71 on April 08, 2010, 05:51:42 PM
Keep in mind that theres a difference between wort and beer.  If you culture something from your backyard and put it in 5 gallons of wort, it may or may not become beer.

True enough, however I would suggest that there is a difference between something that is potentially lethal and something that tastes foul and gives you a case of the runs (and yes, that could be lethal to someone with a weakened ammune system argument, but then they shouldn't be drinking from flasks left out on Major's back porch for a week or two  ;D ).

I'd like to think our ancestors had enough wits to dump something that looked slimy and smelled nasty.
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: babalu87 on April 09, 2010, 02:01:43 PM
I'm going to let this thing go to completion and, if it smells good, I may make a beer out of it. If it smells and tastes bad I'm going to dump it. Really, it doesn't scare me in any way, shape or form. There are way more harmful forms of bacteria lurking in everyday places where you touch or eat than you will ever find in a fully fermented batch of any beer anywhere.

Like on lettuce
Title: Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
Post by: hamiltont on April 09, 2010, 03:14:22 PM
I'm going to let this thing go to completion and, if it smells good, I may make a beer out of it. If it smells and tastes bad I'm going to dump it. Really, it doesn't scare me in any way, shape or form. There are way more harmful forms of bacteria lurking in everyday places where you touch or eat than you will ever find in a fully fermented batch of any beer anywhere.

Like on lettuce
Well DARN!  There just went my diet.  Guess I'll have to revert back to cooked & fermented. A.K.A. Steak & beer.  ;D