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Adrian S
04/06/12 06:53 PM  
Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
So...just thinking about the 'common knowledge' (or at least common after reading Wild Brews and other 'Funk' blogs) that Lactobacillus is 'IBU-phillic' - or, is unable to reproduce when in an environment with high IBUs.

Do we know that it is the IBU contribution of hops which inhibits Lactobacillus?

Here's what I'm reasoning--

Lambics use aged hops which have very little bittering potential. However, they use large quantities to inhibit Enterobacter and Lactobacillus. It is suggested (or perhaps known empirically) that the other compounds in the hops contribute to inhibiting these organisms.

Therefore - 1oz of aged hops would not be as inhibitory as 3oz of aged hops..

So, using .5oz of hops with high AAs could contribute the same number of IBUs as 1oz, albeit inhibiting Lactobacillus less.

It's very possible I'm missing an important idea about the alpha acids, beta acids, humulone, cohumulone, essential oils, or some other part of the picture which is skewing how I'm looking at the inhibitory aspects of hops.

04/08/12 10:51 AM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
I think once you start pushing past 8-10 IBU's, you can start to affect lacto's potential for positive growth. With that being said, the hops you add do not have to be aged. You could use a low AA% noble hop in small amounts to achieve the same effects as adding the aged hops that commercial lambic producers use.

I think it also really depends on the lacto strain being used as well. I feel like some strains are quite strong and healthy even with a fairly high amount of hops in the wort (ie Fantome and Cascade sours).

04/08/12 12:48 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Antimicrobial effects do seem to come primarily and directly from the isohumulones. More isohumulones generally increase the perceived bitterness, but this is a simplification. It's really a diverse class of compounds each with their own combination of antimicrobial and flavor contribution:


It's possible that the aging of hops results in the reduction of the high bittering forms of chemicals and the enrichment of the reduced iso-alpha acid forms that seem to work best as antimicrobials.

Unrelated: I've seen several people mention "Cascade's amazing lacto strain". Can anyone verify the strength of this strain independent from their fairly well-acknowledged use of lactic acid additions?

04/10/12 09:48 AM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Just to not perpetuate the term, I believe you mean "IBU-phobic" instead of "philic".
Mike T
04/10/12 02:23 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Luke, are you saying that Cascade adds pure lactic acid? I hadn't heard that talking to the brewers. Source?

From what I understand, they do a clean primary fermentation followed by pitching their mystery Lacto strain, so it must be pretty alcohol tolerant. I don't think it is super hop tolerant, they list most of their sours as under 13 IBUs

Adrian S
04/10/12 11:08 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Whoops...not sure how I messed up the IBU-phobic/phillic bit. Thanks for pointing that out.

I'm planning on pitching a bigger wort onto the yeast cake of a 2.5g batch of Berlinner Weisse with lacto cultured from a small starter with grain.

The question is-- Should I brew a beer with slightly higher IBUs to balance the higher gravity (i.e. 1.060 wort - 25 IBUs) or should I lower the IBUs to 12-13 and hope that the beer sours enough to balance the high gravity? The wort will have 5-10% simple sugars, and I'll add a slurry of a belgian strain which should attenuate well...but maybe not well enough to balance a beer with low IBUs.

The same goes for a yeast cake with only the wild yeast / lacto I cultured for the BW. I split a 5g batch and pitched one carboy with the lacto culture and then a clean dry yeast after 48 hours. The other carboy only got the yeast/lacto/? culture...it still has a pellicle and I have not tried it. It likely has Brettanomyces in it (hopefully not Pichia)....should I use low IBUs? or higher to balance the gravity.

Both batches are going into bottles this weekend, so I guess I'll check the attenuation of both. If they both attenuated very well I might go for the low IBUs....otherwise..not sure.

04/11/12 07:41 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Re: Mike T

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "adds pure lactic acid". In general, I don't think their sourness comes purely from fermentation by Lactobacillus or purely by lactic acid addition. I think they ferment with Lacto as you suggest and then they hone in the flavor with the addition of pure lactic acid.

My only real source for this was a bartender at Cascade Barrel House. After tasting a lot of their beers side-by-side my drinking buddy and I became suspicious of possible lactic acid addition. We asked the bartender if they employ lactic acid additions and he replied with a very strange, almost prepared response that went something like "the brewers will not confirm or deny the use of lactic acid and that's all I can say about that". -- It was weird and a little unsettling to be honest.

The next day of our trip to PDX we went to Belmont Station Bottle Shop and we were shown around by a wonderful women (name escapes me). When Cascade Brewing came up, without any prompting she independently stated that she doesn't really care for Cascade because "their lactic acid additions make everything one note".

The bottom line is that I really have no idea and that's why I was hoping someone could independently verify the strength and lactic acid producing potential of their Lacto strain.

04/12/12 08:58 AM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
I'm about to start working on streaking and isolating lactobacillus out of one of their bottles. I don't have any anerobic chambers or oxygen scrubbing equipment but I can flush a container with CO2 to best create a low oxygen environment. What I could possibly do is make up a variety of MYPG plates with different levels of IBUs sourced from a bottle of isohop extract I have. I should be able to see from that how hop tolerant the strain is once I have it isolated. Then I can work on making a wort to see how much acid it will produce on its own with out saccharomyces.

I'll try and make up the plates during finals week so I have them at my disposal.

04/12/12 01:27 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Wait a minute, some of you think that Cascade may not use lactic acid additions? I would be shocked to find out they don't.
Mike T
04/12/12 03:54 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
I was just trying to be clear that you weren't suggesting they add lactic acid bacteria, or acid beer, or something like that.

Interesting, I'll contact Ron and see if he will give me something either way.

04/12/12 08:07 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Re: Mike T

I'm pretty sure they do add lactic acid bacteria, probably some strain of Lactobacillus delbrueckii. The question is whether or not they adjust flavor or increase sourness with the addition of pure lactic acid.

04/12/12 08:55 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Re Smokinghole

That experiment sounds great, I'd love to see the results!

Mike T
04/15/12 09:54 AM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Here is the response from Ron: "We have not will not ever use lactic acid in our beers. It is hearsay. The beers go through lactic acid fermentation by lactobacillis. This type of allegation makes my blood boil. We put a lot of effort, time and investment into our natural process of creating sour beer. All of our staff is well informed and should know better than to be so base."
04/15/12 08:30 PM  
Re: Hops and Lactobacillus - not IBUs?
Thanks for the update Mike. I can understand how the rumors would really piss him off. Hopefully this goes towards clearing things up.
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