Monday, May 27, 2013

100% Lactobacillus Berliner Weisse Tasting

I get lots of brewing ideas. Sometimes they work out pretty well (for example Modern Times is about to brew 1,000 gallons of my 100% Brett Trois IPA!), but that isn’t always the case. Last summer I had the crazy idea to ferment half a batch of Berliner weisse with nothing but Lactobacillus. My initial concern was that the resulting beer might be too sour, but I figured that could be handled in a variety of ways (like blending with the other half of the batch), but that wasn't the case.

100% Lacto Berliner Weisse.100% Lacto Berliner Weisse

Appearance – Slightly hazy, but considering the single infusion mash, and lack of a boil, not bad. Probably the palest beer I’ve brewed, about the color of “real” lemonade. The bright-white head has solid retention and leaves sticky lacing.

Smell – Smells pretty clean compared to my usual mixed-fermentation Berliner weisses. None of the musty, floral, complexity that Brett usually brings. The rest of the components are there though, wheat and gamey Lacto.

Taste – The flavor is where it falls a bit flat. The acidity suggested by the Lacto-y nose doesn’t show up. Otherwise solid, but like a light American wheat beer. Slightly doughy, with some lemon, and low levels of spicy phenolics. Sweeter than I want my Berliners to be, even considering the lack of acidity.

Mouthfeel – Relatively full body for a 1.032 beer, I’d prefer it crisper. Good carbonation, right after opened it had some foam build in the neck, but it seemed to dissipate quickly.

Drinkability & Notes – I’ve read a lot of complaints about the White Labs Lacto strain over the last year, but in this case there aren’t any excuses I can make for it. It was allowed to work without competition, in a low gravity/IBU wort, for nearly a year. I might try a blend of White Labs and Wyeast Lacto next time, or just try out one of my other ideas! And heck, at least I did something (ferment a beer without yeast) that very few people have done before.

Sorry for the long delay since the last post, but Audrey and I got married Thursday! Sadly blog posts the next few months may be a bit sporadic with my trip to San Diego and a deadline for my book both coming up in about a month.


Photo by Julia Benton at the National Gallery of Art.

18 comments:

Bruce Friend said...

Congrats on the wedding. I raise a pint to you and Audrey!

Vinny said...

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Congrats!

dcylab said...

Hey Mike, congratulations!

Fred said...

Congrats on the wedding !

BK Yeast said...

Congratulations!

Jim Lemire said...

Congrats on the nuptials :)

...too bad about the beer :(

DanielFV said...

Felicidades! Congratulations!

what we’re drinking said...

Congratulations!

I do like how the first photo features a mixed focus of beer and wedding ring, but you save your revelation until the end of the end of the post.

Nutty Buddy said...

Congrats on your marriage and now on to more important things. I've been making large lacto starters using heat and a stir plate and have had really good results making BW (two medals). This time, I upped the ante, or so I thought and decided to use a cooler(blue of course) as an inoculation chamber for a 10 gallon batch of BW and hooked up a bucket heater to a digital controller for temp control. I set the temp to cycle between 100 and 106 and have let it go for 5 days so far. Frankly, this thing smells like vomit. My lacto starters never smelled like this. I followed normal sanitation practices and StarSan was used generously to eradicate unwanted bugs. I checked the gravity and have had only a negligible drop(1.032-1.030) so I don't think wild yeast isn't involved. I did a short boil with the wort (ordinarily don't even bother) prior to pitching lacto but I'm almost certain the lacto has some friends hanging out. So, what to do? I'm probably going to try to boil the aroma out of this thing after another full day of souring and funktation and see if that helps. No matter how sour it may be, I don't think I could drink it with this aroma. What are your thoughts? I used White Labs lacto only with the thoughts of pitching WLP300 or Kolsch yeast after inoculation. What do think Mad Fermentationist?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks for all the well wishes!

Not sure what happened to your beer, but that doesn't sound like the way the WL Lacto behaves for most other people. Lacto doesn't really benefit from aeration, but it shouldn't hurt either (as long as you aren't introducing other microbes). During souring, oxygen is your biggest enemy when you are souring without yeast. Was it a cooler mash tun that the beer/wort was touching? That could introduce all sorts of microbes. How sour is the beer now? I tend to avoid pre-souring because it can cause problems for the primary ale strain. Good luck!

melloknows said...

Congrats on the nuptials! I can personally attest to a significant increase in wort production post-wedding activities.

Maybe the reason there wasn't significant acidity is that Lacto needs metabolic help from other organisms in beer production. In yogurt, Streptococcus thermophilus is added to help out Lacto. Just wondering aloud though.

Cheers!

HolzBrew said...

Congrats on finding a good woman, who puts up with a basement full of bubbling concoctions. You've found a keeper.

Kenneth Nygård said...

Congratulations Mike. I've done an 100% lacto inspired by yours. And I've got the exact same results. Very little sourness. It's weird!

Ryan said...

A friend of mine that has had very good success with lacto souring said that if you don't hold the temp in at least the high 80's for several days that it will not sour. I believe I experienced what you have earlier this year in tries to create a good berliner. When I do it again, I will definitely hold temp at 90F+ for several days before pitching anything else on top of it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

As far as I'm aware, temperature increases the rate of fermentation, but won't change the fundamental conversion of sugars into lactic acid and or alcohol and CO2. That is to say, temperature will get you there faster, but won't necessarily be better. The issue here was the White Labs Lacto.

Ryan said...

I suppose its quite possible that you and I both had bad batches of White Labs lacto. Our berliner/lacto experiments started around April 2013. It fermented out just fine, just never got sour. Almost like it wasn't actually lacto I was dealing with.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I get two to three emails a month with people who have had similar coincidental "bad luck" with WL Lacto. Wyeast's is better, although not super-terrific either.

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