Author Topic: Long-term sour starter  (Read 1555 times)

Offline erockrph

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Long-term sour starter
« on: October 30, 2012, 08:56:30 PM »
After spending the summer doing some tasty research, I've picked a few commercial sour brews that I want to use to start my "house culture". I made a couple of liters of starter wort which is now sitting in my newly-designated "dregs bucket", and pitched some Girardin dregs a little while ago. I plan on slowly adding dregs from a few different beers over the next few months and will probably brew my first sour beer using this starter in the early spring.

Does anyone have any tips on how to manage a house culture like this? I'm planning on pitching about half when I use it and topping off with fresh wort. I'm kind of wondering what to do if I get a pellicle. I'll probably be pitching new dregs every few weeks - do I not want to mess with it if I get a pellicle? Can I still pitch from it if I have an active pellicle?
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Offline dimik

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 08:28:17 PM »
I think what will end up happening this way is that whatever you throw in first will be the main contributor to your culture. By the time you throw in your next dregs, the initial organisms will outnumber it probably around a million-billion to one in terms of cell counts and as the nutrients become depleted the new incoming dregs will grow out less and less. They'll be there, but their contributions will not be as big as that of the first and second dregs. Since you desire a house culture that is a mix of these dregs, I think it stands to reason that you'd wish them all to contribute roughly equally, yes? If that is the case what I'd do is split that wort into 1/2-1 gal portions and pitch dregs into each individually. That way you'll have a number of equally happily growing populations that you can later crash, decant, and mix the slurries as you desire in order to pitch into your beer of choice to be the first "house sour."
Just my thoughts...
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 08:26:04 AM »
Good point. I can't believe I didn't think of that. Since I'm only planning on using 3 or 4 different beers for this, it should be fairly easy to keep separate starters going for each of them until I'm ready to start using them. Thanks!
Eric B.

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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 09:41:51 AM »
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 12:48:13 PM »
This could be a good read, if you haven't already:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2011/03/maintaining-brett-and-lacto-cultures.html

+1 for this as a primer.

I've had 3 different "house cultures" in the 4 years or so I've done sour beers.

The first two I kept in a gallon jug. I would pitch dregs of any sour/funky beer I enjoyed, and would "feed" the starter a bit of fresh wort every 6 weeks or so, or about 3 weeks before I was going to brew a sour/funky beer. This method makes GREAT sour beers that are more unique and complex than using a Wyeast/White Labs blend alone. My favorite sours were made by pitching only this culture in primary.

I'm keeping the current starter in a horny tank (i.e. plastic bucket). I'll transfer the current beer out in 6-8 months, leaving behind a bit of liquid, spent yeast, trub, and oak cubes. I'll top up the tank with fresh, unfermented wort. I hope this allows me to keep a house culture alive and evolving without having to dump the culture and start from scratch.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2012, 08:59:31 AM »
Update: I just submitted this as a topic for next year's NHC. Hopefully I can get my techniques out there to fellow homebrewers! Sour beers are something I'm passionate about, and these methods are making REALLY great beer!

It would be great to follow up the topic with a house culture sample swap and the following NHC!
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: Long-term sour starter
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2012, 08:42:16 AM »
Update: I just submitted this as a topic for next year's NHC. Hopefully I can get my techniques out there to fellow homebrewers! Sour beers are something I'm passionate about, and these methods are making REALLY great beer!

It would be great to follow up the topic with a house culture sample swap and the following NHC!

Sounds great!
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