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04/08/10 11:34 PM  
What's going on with this beer
Racked my funky belgian strong golden to secondary one week ago. It got a bunch of bugs in primary along with sacc. It was in primary for 2 weeks. When I racked to secondary it went on a bag of RR oak chips and .5 oz of medium toast oak cubes soaked in pinot grigio along with a quarter bottle of orval. Ever since then, there has been a constant stream of tiny bubbles coming from the bottom of the carboy (all around). I thought it might have been leftover co2 coming to the surface, but after a week i'm not so sure that's it. Any ideas?

Oh yeah, this is a monster at 10.5% abv when I racked.

tom sawyer
04/09/10 08:21 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Sounds like there was something left to ferment, and the Orval bugs are liking it.

That or the oak is providing nucleation sites for bubbles to gas out of the beer.

Whats an RR oak chip? From a railroad tie? hehe

Mike T
04/09/10 08:42 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
RR = Russian River, the chips Vinnie gives out from time to time that have been soaked in his house culture. They've done good work for me, but the ones I had gave funk without much sourness.

What was the gravity when you racked? It could be the bugs, or just the sacch slowly finishing up. Sounds tasty, good luck.

04/09/10 02:50 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
+1. Either way, you have some sort of fermentation going on. But afterall, isn't that what you wanted? The bugs need food to make the funk. : )
04/11/10 09:26 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Yes, no doubt I wanted it to ferment more in secondary. I've just never seen a beer do this (only my 2nd sour). I guess I was kind of expecting it to get "swampy" looking or even a pellicle after being exposed to oxygen when I racked it.

I just got home from being out of town and the bubbles are still going. So this is 10 days it's been doing this now.

The gravity when I racked it was 1.009.

I'm not quite sure what I expect this beer to be like. Hopefully it'll be funky and sour. I guess will see sometime between 9 and 12 months from now.

04/12/10 01:07 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Last year I brewed up some wild type brews and the same thing happened to mine. The brett starters were set on the stir plate for a week at 76 deg, then chilled and the slurry was pitched into beers with a FG of 1.009. Almost right away there was a secondary fermentation from the brett. There was a small head of tiny white bubbles for a few weeks before they subsided. That is when the pedio and lacto went in.

In almost no time the FG was down to 1.000. The beer had some off flavors for a few months and then turned the corner and started to improve greatly. I bottled after only 7 months!!


04/12/10 12:56 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
I've noticed that in stronger beers the wild fermentation sometimes appears more "normal", that is, sacch-like. If the beer develops a pellicle, and stress on the 'if' as it doesn't always happen, even more so on strong beers, it usually takes my beers at minimum a few weeks and often times a few months before I see any sort of visible growth. But rest assured, the bugs are doing their thing - even if you never get a pellicle.
04/24/10 06:29 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Well 24 days later and this thing is still going...I pitched the last inch or so of a Consecration into to it a week or so ago. I'll probably do that with every sour I drink from here on out. I've contemplated pitching some pedio and lacto into it, but that might be futile with such high ABV. Any thoughts on that?
04/24/10 09:13 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
I think you've pitched every possible combination of bug beer out there and you'll never get a good handle on what really took hold of your beer. Basically you have a "kitchen sink" beer - totally not reproducible if you like the results. Not a good way to approach good brewing skills. Also you are expecting almost immediate results as though it was fermented with regular sacc yeast strains so you pitch more funky beers hoping for faster terminal gravity and the bug soup you have created will take years to fully mature - as it should. Sorry to be so critical but your approach to brewing with bugs needs a lot of re-evaluation - and this forum is a great place for refocusing your path to brewing excellence. Leave the beer alone for a good year before tasting it and don't add anything else to it.
04/25/10 12:03 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Just having fun and experimenting:) But I should have been a little more clear on my last post about the fermentation. I meant to convey that I thought it was cool and odd that nearly a month later there is still a constant stream of small bubbles coming from the bottom of the carboy. I'm certainly not trying to rush it.
tom sawyer
04/25/10 09:10 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
Cisco, is the "bug soup" mentality a problem of not having the right ratios of bugs from the beginning? It would seem that even with pitching various dregs and WY/WLP blends, you can't do more than have a mix of Sacch, three or so varieties of of Brett and pedio/lacto/oeno. Lack of reproducibility is the norm anyway isn't it? Which is why blending is so important?

Once you have all the representative microorganisms working, I thought the bugs would take their turns based on what was in the wort/beer. Is the result that dependent on the ratios of these things pitched to begin with?

I'm just trying to understand the basis for your objection to going this route.

04/25/10 09:01 PM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
You can get a reasonable reproducibility IF you know what few specific strains you have introduced and you keep reusing the same bug soup by just adding more fresh beer to the mother container - for years. Yes blending does play a small part to getting consistency but so does knowing what you're dealing with. The ratios DO play an important part on the end result. For me, the fewer different bugs the better so you can get a better handle on what they can do in what proportions. I particularly like the Roselare bugs from Wyeast, but it takes a couple years before the bugs develop into the proper ratios to get the consistency of the Rodenbach flavor profile.

Constantly throwing in more different bug strains from commercial beers because the beer is not finishing soon enough is counter productive to gaining the required brewing knowledge of what they can do. Patience and a long time of fermentation (one year and greater) and a known bug soup of selected strains left alone to do their thing will get you to where you want and need to go. Unfortunately it all takes a long time and impatience will only lead to misconceptions and beer that usually never reaches its full potential and understanding consistency goes out the window. You need to know first what kind of flavor profile you want to produce and then research what bug strains were used to get there - but I guarantee you that the first batch won't get you there - it may take several years to build up a healthy bug soup of known strains to reach an equilibrium to create what you're shooting for and get a good consistency of the final product. Even though you may think that the final product is great and close to your expectations it will continue to change after it is bottled - time is your friend to get to where you want to go but too many folks are way too impatient. I hope I answered your questions, if not ask for more clarification. Glad to help!

tom sawyer
04/26/10 08:16 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
I see what you're saying as far as patience. I didn't get the impression that the original poster was impatient, although he's obvisously watching too closely! I know the progression of bugs takes a good year, I've seen that now myself. I've also tasted how my first plambic has changed even after it was bottled at 1yr. 21 months now and continuing to show subtle changes.

I haven't been adding different strains to speed anything up, just wanting a full population of the various microbeasts. Its my understanding on the Wyeast/Whitelabs products that they don't contain all the possibilities, just enough to create a good end product. The Wyeast blend was very nice, I haven't used the Roselare yet. I'll have to procure some and make a true Flanders Red.

I used both the Whitelabs blend and the Wyeast blend in my barrel, and threw in some Oenococcus and dregs from a Cantillon kriek lambic. I suppose this is overkill and will lead to unpredictable results. I just never knew predictability was really possible with these brews.

Rob B
04/27/10 11:09 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
While reproducibility might be somewhat important for some homebrewers, I am looking for complexity when I add bottle dregs not speed of fermentation. I wouldn't be able to tell if the Flanders Red I made this year matches the one I made 2 years ago anyway. I am just looking for a complex product that I don't think you get from pitches just from White Labs or Wyeast. I am not counting populations and identifying each bug and I make award winning sours/wild beers.

Just my two cents...

05/01/10 09:13 AM  
Re: What's going on with this beer
I am certainly guilty of watching this thing too closely, but as I originally stated, this is only my 2nd sour brew. That doesn't mean i'm rushing it though. Just curious. I usually take a peek in the closet right before bed every other day or so just to see if it's still doing the same thing. It's fun to me and like to see the changes. Now it's getting those "swampy" bubbles on top that hang around.

The "bug soup" mentality is fine with me. Like Rob said, i'm just looking for complexity and hoping to get the most out of my beer. The only thing that was purchased from White Labs for this beer was the 570 and Brett B so IMO I need the bottle dregs. I've yet to brew the same batch twice in 3 years so reproducibility is not so important to me.

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