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10/24/08 03:04 PM  
Ambient fermentation safety issues?
Title says it all. With the weather starting to cool, I've been thinking trying my first ambient fermentation.

I know that no bad bugs can live in beer due to the low pH, but what about the wort during the inoculation time? (Overnight) It seems that some bad pathogens could certainly get in during that time. Is this not the reason for the high hopping rates of traditional lambics with aged hops? Defeat the bad but let the good live? Is this something that people are here are doing with their ambients?

Just want to get the facts straight before I poison myself. ; )

Any advice is appreciated.


Mike T
10/24/08 05:17 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
I have heard that E coli does sometimes show up in the early days of lambic fermentation, but the alcohol and acid kill it once the other yeast and bacteria get going. That said, if you are worried just don't sample any of the wort for the first couple weeks of fermentation.
10/24/08 05:50 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
<<That said, if you are worried just don't sample any of the wort for the first couple weeks of fermentation. >>

That wasn't exactly my plan anyways. ; )

So I guess what I'm getting at is, if something bad such as E Coli DOES get into the wort during an overnight ambient inoculation, will there be any long term effects on the beer, or will any sacch and brett that come along to actually ferment the wort kill off the bugs with alcohol and a low pH?

I'm going to do it either way, guess I just want to know if I should dial 9-1, drink the beer, and then be ready to dial 1 again? :-D

Al B
10/24/08 09:49 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?

Where are you doing the ambient?

Let's assume it won't be near the kitchen sink after dicing up some chicken or the bath-tub/toilet. This greatly reduces the incident of a wandering E. coli getting in there. It will die off with alcohol/acidity - (something like 2% abv) - otherwise it will smell like a diaper.

E. coli is part of the family of Enterobacteriacea. Many of these coliform bacteria are involved initially as described in "wild Brews" and may impart a parsnip vegetable flavor as far as long term effects go.

10/25/08 01:02 AM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
Very interesting tank, I figured since this has really been done for milennia that it would be fine, but better safe right. Once it stays cool for awhile I'm thinking of just throwing out some starters and seeing what happens.

Any ideas on a recipe yet?

10/27/08 12:56 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
Thanks guys.

Al, no. I don't think this will be inocculated in my kitchen or batchroom. I live in San Diego, so probably not the best locale, but it could be worse... I could be in LA for instance ;-).

Unfortunately I don't really have any orchards or anything nearby, so that is not an option. I brew in my backyard, so my plan was to just let the wort sit out overnight with some cheesecloth covering it to keep out insects and whatnot. It's still warm here during the days, but in another month or so it should cool down nicely. So it sounds like everything should be fine, which is what I figured. But thought I'd check.

Boonie; no I don't really have a recipe yet. I figure something simple, probably similar to a traditional lambic recipe at ~1.050 with very low IBUs. You know, let my local funk shine through, whatever that may be.

10/27/08 03:09 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
I've tried this a couple times with leftover wort, and the innoculated wort has smelled HORRIBLE each time. But I live on Brooklyn, so...

Oddly, I heard the guys from De Struise on a radio interview talking about how it would be "Easier" for them to spontaneously ferment if they lived in a big city...any truth to this?

10/27/08 04:16 PM  
Re: Ambient fermentation safety issues?
Good question. There is at least more "stuff" in the air in big cities... although I can't imagine lots of it would be good in beer.
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