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10/16/10 02:46 PM  
Funky starters & how to fruit & other questions

We've got one smack pack of Wyeast 3278 coming, which we plan to use in a 10 gallon pLambic. This will be divided into 3 carboys, which allows room for fruit later, which brings me to my first question: Is it a good idea to add all of the fruit to just 1 or 2 of these (to provide blending options later), or would it be better to divide the fruit equally between all 3 carboys?

Since there will be 3 fermenters, I was also considering that if we keep them in different locations (1 in his garage, 1 in his basement, & 1 in my spare room, for instance), then in 2 years we should have 3 somewhat different pLambics, thus opening more doors for the purposes of blending later. Any thoughts on this? Is it a good idea?

Anyhow, that's down the road... The immediate question here is: What is the best way to build a funky starter from Wyeast lambic blend and dregs of Cantillon Gueze? I understand this is largely debatable, and I understand that we don't need a large pitching rate, but if we have a little more volume to begin with, then it becomes easier to divide into 3. Here's my idea of a funky starter: Boiled DME wort with a pinch of flour, cooled & only SLIGHTLY aerated so we don't discourage the bacterial growth too much, and end up with to much Saccharomyces at the same time. Am I on the right track here? Also, how long should we allow this starter to grow before using it? I'm thinking it doesn't really matter even if it hasn't finished fermenting, considering the microbe populations come & go in waves anyhow... I figure as long as all the bugs are alive, we should be OK, right? Also, should we start the Cantillon dregs separately? I figure they're gonna take awhile to "wake up" and wouldn't want them to be out-competed by the lab blend... Perhaps adding them to the fermentation later would be a better idea?

Thanks for all your thoughts and comments!


Mike T
10/18/10 03:05 PM  
Re: Funky starters & how to fruit & other question
I think adding fruit to only part of the beer is a great idea to open up blending possibilities (I also like to always leave part of each batch ďplainĒ to taste how the base beer and the fruited portion compare). I like to wait 9-12 months before adding the fruit to give the microbes a chance to grow before feeding them with the fruit (if you add the fruit early on youíll just end up with happy Sacch). So Iíd start them in two fermenters and then deal with racking onto fruit when the time comes (I just racked 2 gallons of 16 month old lambic out of primary and onto 2 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes over the weekend, then bottled the rest of the batch).

Iíve given up trying to do mixed culture starters. Iíd pitch the blend, the dregs, and a Sacch strain of your choice together in primary (you can dump more dregs in as it ages as well). If you do a starter keep the Cantillon dregs separate, sometime you get acetobacter growth quickly from dregs (especially if they have some age on them). I also donít think the flour is needed, the extract will have dextrins for the bugs to work on if you let it go that long. Hope that provides some help, good luck brewing.

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