Author Topic: Lambic not getting sour  (Read 889 times)

Offline erockrph

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Lambic not getting sour
« on: November 26, 2014, 07:45:29 PM »
I brewed a lambic last December using a highly unfermentable wort, and fermented with a "house culture" that I grew up from commercial dregs. I just took a sample a couple of days ago and while the Brett character is amazing, there is virtually no sourness at all. Right now it is still sitting at 1.015 nearly a year into fermentation, and the acidity level is just slightly more than my saison typically is. I didn't take a pH reading, but my guess is about 3.8, give or take. I'd really like this in the low 3's.

For my wort, I had a short, high temp mash of pilsner malt and I also separately steeped some torrified wheat. I combined the two and boiled for 90 minutes. The idea was that by steeping the wheat separately I'd (hopefully) produce a starchy wort similar to a turbid mash. My gravity was pretty low post-boil, so I added a mix of DME and maltodextrin to boost my OG to about 1.045.

This is my first time brewing a lambic, and it's also my first time using this culture in primary fermentation.  I'm wondering if this beer just needs more time to sour, or whether I need to intervene somehow (I was thinking of adding Pediococcus).

I've used this culture in secondary for a Flanders Red once before. That one turned out sour, but it was quite acetic. I don't have enough experience with this culture to know if it just doesn't produce enough lactic acid with its current mix of bugs. The culture is dregs from Red Poppy, Gueuze Girardin and Gueuze Fond Tradition that were stepped up twice in the bottle then pitched to a "mother" DME culture that I have been maintaining.

Any thoughts/suggestions?
Eric B.

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Offline AnimALE

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2014, 09:21:48 PM »
I brewed a lambic last December using a highly unfermentable wort, and fermented with a "house culture" that I grew up from commercial dregs. I just took a sample a couple of days ago and while the Brett character is amazing, there is virtually no sourness at all. Right now it is still sitting at 1.015 nearly a year into fermentation, and the acidity level is just slightly more than my saison typically is. I didn't take a pH reading, but my guess is about 3.8, give or take. I'd really like this in the low 3's.

For my wort, I had a short, high temp mash of pilsner malt and I also separately steeped some torrified wheat. I combined the two and boiled for 90 minutes. The idea was that by steeping the wheat separately I'd (hopefully) produce a starchy wort similar to a turbid mash. My gravity was pretty low post-boil, so I added a mix of DME and maltodextrin to boost my OG to about 1.045.

This is my first time brewing a lambic, and it's also my first time using this culture in primary fermentation.  I'm wondering if this beer just needs more time to sour, or whether I need to intervene somehow (I was thinking of adding Pediococcus).

I've used this culture in secondary for a Flanders Red once before. That one turned out sour, but it was quite acetic. I don't have enough experience with this culture to know if it just doesn't produce enough lactic acid with its current mix of bugs. The culture is dregs from Red Poppy, Gueuze Girardin and Gueuze Fond Tradition that were stepped up twice in the bottle then pitched to a "mother" DME culture that I have been maintaining.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

My first lambic did not get really sour after a year either..I pitched regular sacch yeast first then added the bugs in seconary and thats why it never got really sour

Offline dannyjed

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2014, 10:44:51 PM »
You could get some Jolly Pumpkin beers and add the dregs to your lambic. They are very aggressive bugs.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2014, 11:55:32 PM »
Hmmmm, makes me wonder if they cheated on the commercial stuff you got it from. As in maybe they used lactic?

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2014, 12:33:46 AM »
The straight lambics are 3 years old. Bugs and critters work slow.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2014, 03:31:02 PM »
It's hard to really know what you do and do not have in your house mixture. Common sense suggests you are low on bacteria and high on brett and other oxidative yeast. If the ph in your mother culture gets too low then the bacteria will start to die off and you'll end up with a culture that is mostly yeast. So that is something you may want to take a look at.

You could pitch pedio but I'm not sure you would get much sourness given your current gravity and the probable volume of brett and other yeast working in the beer. I think you will be happier with the end results by brewing a second batch with a low mash temperature and pitch lacto by itself until the ph gets as low as you can get it and then pitch brett and/or more of your house culture. Then blend the two together in another 6-12 months. If you're committed to that one batch then the safest way to ensure you get enough acidity would be to add lactic acid and let what you have in the beer continue to work until you reach a lower final gravity.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2014, 09:37:18 PM »
In the past when this has happened to me, I have solved the problem with two approaches.

1.  Either give the beer more time to develop the proper acidity and possibly pitch the dregs of a couple more commercial sours that you enjoy and know have lacto and pedio (i.e. Russian River, drie Fontenin, etc).  If you are concerned about acetic character overtaking, simply rack the beer to a keg along with your dregs and purge the headspace to seat the lid.  Keep it around 65-70F at least. 

or

2.  Rack the year old lambic onto a some fruit like raspberries, apricots, peaches, etc (or even rhubarb) and allow it to ferment for an additional 4-6 mos.  The beer will most definitely become more acidic and sour after this procedure. 

Offline erockrph

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Re: Lambic not getting sour
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2014, 03:00:49 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Part of my frustration with this was that I was planning on this batch being year 1 to start my gueuze program. I was planning on racking this batch to secondary, then adding a new batch to the cake from this first round. I don't want to invest yet another year with a bug blend that isn't getting sour.

I'm really happy with the Brett character so far, so I may stick with my original plan. But I'll plan on pitching a pack of lacto and/or pedio along with the new batch. This first batch I'll bring up to room temp (instead of cellar temp) and monitor it for a few more months (maybe I'll pitch some of the pedio going into the new batch). If I see some acidity developing then I'll keep it going for the gueuze. If not, then I'll put it on some fruit.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer