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Like the BBB, the homeBBBrew board is not a club, just a place to talk about making beer. Is there a swap you would like to see happen? If we can find a few others who have something similar then lets do it!

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03/11/09 11:14 PM  
Newbie Sour Obsessed
Hi Folks,

I just wanted to introduce myself. I have read basically the entire forum in the past couple days, and have learned a ton. I have read Sour Brews and have been brewing for a while. I'm absorbing a lot of info and trying to make a long term plan for this sour stuff. FWIW I'm a chemist but not a biologist and I like to write long posts!

I made my first pLambic at the end of February, it's chugging along. If you want to see the details it's here:


Basically slightly limited ambient exposure overnight and then hedged with a packet of WY3278 over 10G and a large quantity of my dregs blend.

Anyhow of course I still have questions. My main concern right now is how to keep a continual "house blend" of bugs without keeping tons of slants and stepping up to brew each time. Right now I have a "bug circus" where I put all my dregs of commercial Lambics. I have a medium of beer, oak cubes, fresh wort in there. From what I understand the populations will shift and pedio will start to dominate, correct? Depending on how much oxygen is involved? Anyhow dominant bugs will eat passive bugs and things will change, populations will die. I sometimes go to great lengths to obtain some of these rare sours and I want to preserve the diversity. Some evolution is fine but in 5 years I don't want to have a jar of pedio and think "I should have done X so many years ago"..

I have kept slants in the past to save money on yeast but I never tried to separate strains or looked at them in a microscope. Is there another way? I will probably want to culture more pure things like Orval and The Dissident separately but I also want a diverse house blend that I can add for complexity and deliciousness. I wish survival of the fittest was also survival of the tastiest but that's not always the case is it? Al B seems to have the best system but I want to avoid all that work! Thanks Al Benevolent by the way for your contributions to this board.

What do other people do over time with their bug farms?


03/12/09 06:34 AM  
Re: Newbie Sour Obsessed
I'm personally all for the Slopes, plates, and constant propagation of strains kept to single species. You can get house bug blends going but they'll need to be looked after. No reason you can't keep some bretts mixed on slopes or plates, maybe you like the complexity. Stick to a similar Pedio or Lactic strains you like and use them.

Some people here like to just add dregs and see what happens in secondary. I personally think it doesn't do nearly as much as when you know what your adding in the amounts your adding it. Just prepare your colonies and grow and propagate them up before each brew.. Or dump on top of old cakes. Tjis has good success for a while can't be done for five years by any means.

Rodenbach used to always have a mixed culture and they knew how to play around with it knock back the LAB bugs when they needed too.

As for separating out from mixed cultures have fun. It takes some time and really good observing skills. http://brettanomyces.blogspot.com/ here is a blog that shows the media used and how you can go about doing it. It takes time and can be frustrating as Brettanomyces sp. can give strange behavior. I've been working for a couple of weeks trying to separate two bretts or I think it could be two Bretts could be one just one showing varying characteristics at different cell densities on the same plate. Not sure but I'm re-checking to make sure I have only one anyways. There is also Brett acclimated phenomenon so the same brett will behave differently based on acclimation to beer.

03/12/09 12:34 PM  
Re: Newbie Sour Obsessed
There are incredible complexities in a jar with 100 organisms or whatever in it, but I think we can still safely say you won't wake up in 5 years with just a jar of pedio as long as you occasionally feed the culture. For one thing Pedio can only attenuate a few points of any wort you feed to the mixture.

Anyway I guess you're looking for another way to maintain a mixed culture on at least a halfway consistent basis. Here are three ideas in increasing order of reasonableness:

1. Buy a wooden building, propagate your mixed culture to about 10 bbl, then spray it on all interior surfaces of the building. Let dry. Then do ambient ferments in there. (That was a joke but I wouldn't put it past someone to try it on an old Tuff Shed. Also real estate seems like a bit of a buyers market these days).

2. Buy some oak barrels, add mixed cultures, put a bunch of batches through them until they stabilize. Keep the good ones. Throw the bad ones at any pesky Italian plumbers who keep trying to rescue any princesses you've kidnapped.

3. Innoculate some hunk of wood with your mixed culture, and keep transferring it from batch to batch. Chant softly.

That's all I got. Actually another option is to experiment until you find just a couple of bugs you really like, and then you only have to keep those handy. Really it's not a big deal to keep 4-5 bretts on a slant in the fridge, and infect a barrel or some kind of wooden amulet with pedio--maybe that's all you need.

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