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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: Kirk on February 04, 2011, 03:59:38 AM

Title: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: Kirk on February 04, 2011, 03:59:38 AM
My friend says that Lactic Acid imparts a "lactic" flavor to beer, and advises against it's use.  I don't know what "lactic" flavor means, "milky"?  So anyway, what do you think?  Any truth to that?
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: jamminbrew on February 04, 2011, 04:14:55 AM
Lactic has to do with lactobacillus  (sp)  bacteria which imparts a sour flavor to beer, but it is popular in lambics and such.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: Kaiser on February 04, 2011, 04:20:07 AM
Used in small quantities it is a great acid to use. Most lightly colored German beers are brewed with some lactic acid for pH correction and none of them seem to have a "lactic" taste.

Kai
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: dmtaylor on February 04, 2011, 06:02:27 AM
Lactic acid doesn't really have much flavor; hence its widespread use in Belgian styles, and by most tasters' interpretation, has the "cleanest" tartness of just about any acid.  Same stuff found in sour cream and yogurt.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: tschmidlin on February 04, 2011, 06:37:18 AM
Yeah, lactic is pretty clean and soft, that is why some wines are produced with a malolactic fermentation, where the harsher malic acid is converted to lactic acid.  Don't overuse it, but it can be used in small amounts and be unnoticed in the beer.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: MDixon on February 04, 2011, 12:18:51 PM
Lactic used for acidification of mash and sparge doesn't generally add any flavor. IME lactic spiked to boost the tartness in something like a Belgian Witbier will have a slightly artificial flavor to it if overdone as opposed to naturally occurring lactic characteristics.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: tomsawyer on February 04, 2011, 01:14:46 PM
I think it was Palmer that said the flavor threshold of 88% lactic acid is about 2ml per gallon.  Thats nearly double what you typically need to acidify a mash, especially if you add your flavor additions (CaCl2 and/or CaSO4) to the mash water.

I've tasted it straight and it is quite tart.  Yoghurt's tartness is due to lactic, probably at a significant level.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: tumarkin on February 04, 2011, 03:10:02 PM
Berliner Weisse is the classic style that best showcases the flavor of lactic acid. I love it - so crisp, light & refreshing. Used to be difficult to find, but there are getting to be more US breweries brewing this style. For me, I get the lactic acid along the back/side of my jaw. Makes me salivate just thinking about it.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: denny on February 04, 2011, 04:06:54 PM
My friend says that Lactic Acid imparts a "lactic" flavor to beer, and advises against it's use.  I don't know what "lactic" flavor means, "milky"?  So anyway, what do you think?  Any truth to that?

Has your friend ever tried it or is he just repeating what he's heard somewhere?  I can tell you from personal experience that used in moderation lactic acid adds no flavors at all to the beer.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: mabrungard on February 04, 2011, 04:10:21 PM
I'm not sure I would go so far as to say no flavor with lactic, but the food grade lactic that we typically use is a pretty clean and one-dimensional flavor in my opinion.  I've grown nice Berliner Weisse cultures and the flavors from that are much richer and complex.  In either case, I agree that lactic acid is one of the cleaner acid flavor producers.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: MDixon on February 04, 2011, 10:20:28 PM
I think we need to be clear...lactic used preboil for mash and sparge water in normal amounts will contribute no appreciable difference in taste in the final product. Lactic spiked to boost tartness after fermentation is complete may add an "artificial" characteristic to the final product. Perhaps I should add IME.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: denny on February 04, 2011, 10:37:54 PM
Good points, Mike.  And good luck on BDOY!
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: tomsawyer on February 05, 2011, 12:14:11 AM
Would you taste 1ml/gal added after fermentation?  Does boiling volatilize or otherwise cause degradation of the lactic acid?  Or is this all about the dose?
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: Kirk on February 05, 2011, 04:38:59 PM
I used it yesterday for the first time, pre-boil of course.  Great stuff.  Cleanest wort and highest efficiency I've ever produced.
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: Kaiser on February 05, 2011, 06:51:11 PM
For Pale beers, there is definitely a good chance that your mash can benefit from some acid additions since even low residual alkalinity water is unlikely to get your pH in the 5.4 - 5.6 range.

Kai
Title: Re: "Lactic" Flavor
Post by: Kirk on February 05, 2011, 07:35:36 PM
Kai, I really appreciate all your input.  It has helped me a great deal (as has everyone's).  

By the way, I've been experimenting with decoction mashing, and I've read your stuff.  In fact, your stuff is my primary source.  My first two attempts were cumbersome.  For instance, my first triple turned into a sextuple.  I was spinning my wheels.  I'd pull a decoction, the temp would drop, and the decoction return would get me back to where I started.  But I'm getting better.  Yesterday I tried a new technique that I wanted to run by you.  In short it is Infuse, Decoct, Decoct, Direct Heat.  Starting at the acid rest, infuse to the protein rest, decoct to the sacc rest, decoct again to the dextrin rest, and direct heat to mash out.  It worked well because the mash got thinner at each step.  I decocted mostly grain, and thinned it with HLT water (ph 6 of course).  By the time I got to the dextrin rest, the mash was at about 2.2 qt/lb.  That's why I thought it was safe to direct heat to mash out because it was so thin.  And along that same thought, while the decoctions were boiling, and the main mash thinned accordingly, just before returning the decoction I would carefully use low direct heat (and stirring) to return the main mash temp back up to where it was when I pulled.  It all seemed to work, and shortened the day quite a bit.