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05/29/11 10:50 AM  
Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I have been making sour beers for about three years now and for the most part they come out pretty nice. However, almost all of them have a strong acetic acid profile, even if I didn't add acetobacter (some may have come from dregs though). I have aged some of these beers for 12-18+ months. I use glass or Better Bottle carboys, silicon stoppers, and airlocks filled with vodka. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions to reduce the amount of acetic acid produced. I am thinking that I am getting too much oxygen permeability due to my airlock/stopper.


05/29/11 10:17 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
That's funny. I'm having the exact opposite problem! My sours are too clean.

I brewed a Flanders just over a year ago (Roeselare Blend) that I fermented in a plastic barrel, and a Lambic (Al's Bugfarm) about 6 months ago, also in a plastic barrel. I didn't add any dregs to either. Both beers are quite good, but both lack any sort of acetic profile. I'd really like to get some acetic in the Flanders before kegging/bottling.

Perhaps you could try using one of the commercial bug blends without adding any dregs/acetobacter, and then blend them with the beer you normally make?

05/30/11 09:04 AM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I like the blending option. Another consideration is to add a malolactic bacteria culture. These should be readily available through homebrew shops. See this thread:


05/31/11 01:04 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
Are you storing them at cellar temperatures? In my experience, if you don't keep them stored at cellar temperatures--they'll get extremely sour and acetic.

05/31/11 04:27 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I agree with JackBee. Also, I've found that the greater the exposed surface area and headspace, the more acidic the beers turn out to be. I split a batch into two secondary carboys, one filled up to the top so there was only about an inch of surface area and headspace, another that was only 3/4 full. The former wasn't very sour, the latter was.
05/31/11 07:13 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I agree that oxygen availability plays a huge role in acetic acid formation.


Are you taking out your stopper/airlock often for a smell or sample? If so, that can introduce acetobacter and give it more of an acetic character.

05/31/11 11:40 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I store them at ambient San Diego temps, so never colder than about 50 and not much warmer than 80 year round. So not cellar temps but not extreme either.

I do take the air locks/stopper off to smell every couple of months. I think the combo of plastic airlock, and surface area has caused many of my acetic issues. I remember that my first sour I used a wooden dowel in a stopper and not a air lock (Based on Raj Apte's work), it seemed to take much longer to sour. Not sure if that was the cause of the slow sour or if it was something else since it was my first batch. I guess I will have to test it out.

tom sawyer
06/01/11 09:10 AM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
Aren't these developing pellicles? At that point I'd think your oxygen exposure would be mitigated regardless of the type of airlock. I also don't think a stopper/airlock setup is going to leak much air.
06/01/11 12:44 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
80F would be extreme up here in Seattle! I think you're going to want to store it at less than 65F for less acetic and it should also turn out more complex.
06/06/11 01:03 PM  
Re: Aged Sours and Acetic Acid
I have only had one of mine get very acetic and that was a gallon container that was half filled and used the wooden dowel in a stopper method.

My other beers are are all in glass or Better Bottles with a standard silicon stopper and airlock. And I also live in San Diego, but my beer is indoors so my temperature swing is probably only 65-75.

I wonder if you are producing acetic acid or growing acetic acid producers during the initial fermentation. When you are tasting the beers is there a typical time frame (6 month..) or time of year that the acetic acid comes on strong?

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