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05/08/12 08:32 PM  
lambic pellicle question
I'm not sure how to put pictures in here, so I'll just link them:


I'm at day 102 of the lambic in the barrel. Its been fun watching it through the process, but I'm not sure whats going on with my pellicle. It grew, got a bit bigger, and then slowly cleared out almost disappearing, and now seems to be coming back. Any thoughts?

05/08/12 08:58 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Seems pretty normal. I have seen that before too. Did you happen to have any abnormal vibrations or disturbances to the barrel? That can sometimes break up a pellicle for a little bit. If not, I would just say that you are getting to see the different strains of microbiota (bacteria and brett) take their turns on the wort. Pretty cool pics though! Let it ride....
05/08/12 09:54 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
No vibration or disturbance. Its not like the pellicle dropped or anything, its as if something was eating away at it?
05/09/12 12:35 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
It sounds like you're opening up the barrel to observe and photograph it. Is that the case?
05/09/12 12:55 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Yes, I have a silicon bung that I remove to check in every so often.
05/10/12 07:06 AM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
I bet exposing it to open air could be a factor.
05/10/12 10:13 AM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
If anything, I would think air exposure would increase the pellicle growth, not slowly decrease it. Also, most times I've opened the bung, it has released pressure, so I'm not sure how much O2 would be going the other way.
05/10/12 01:13 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Well, I'm pretty sure lambic brewers put things down to age and leave them alone for a very long time. Something like frequently (on a lambic timescale) opening of the container sounds like it would make a difference in the beers progression. I agree that observing it is interesting, but I bet it is impacting the process.
05/10/12 03:02 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
<<If anything, I would think air exposure would increase the pellicle growth, not slowly decrease it>>

Actually isn't the deal that it developed, started to dissipate but then seemed to return? There is nothing odd about it dissipating, that's supposed to happen. The oddity is the pellicles return. Maybe then the additional air exposure did cause it to increase.

05/10/12 03:22 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
<<There is nothing odd about it dissipating, that's supposed to happen.>>

Can you explain this? I've never heard/read any mentioning of a dissipating pellicle.

05/10/12 04:24 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
On some I have had them barley form at all.

I did have one form, drop out (from moving it but it was also slowly dissipating) and then come back but it was in very different form when it came back more the thin looking white slime coating than the big heavy white stuff

05/11/12 11:39 AM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Hey Tom, you make me also think ... I wonder if pulling out the bung could make enough vibration to loosen and sink some of the pellicle? I keep my long term beers in glass, occasionally I need to move them. It does not matter how dainty I am, I can always see bits of surface material on the way down as a result. That pellicle is a mighty fragile thing.

levifunk, the best I can do is a little general, I was hoping actually that Al would pop in on this one. It is my understanding that the pellicle is essentially a form of polysaccharide that is chipped away at by the bacteria in the beer. Everything those bugs do is at a crawl, but they do tend to be thorough. It is their activity that causes the diminishment of the surface formation.

05/11/12 11:52 AM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Steve, that is actually my gut instinct on whats going on, the pedio kicked in full force and ate away the pellicle.

Actually, I got the yeast for this barrel from Al. ;)

Al B
05/11/12 12:47 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
Hey Levi,

Disturbance of the pellicle will cause it to sink and possibly be decomposed. It is obvious to me from the pictures that the CO2 is still being produced and the trapped bubbles of gas is causing the pellicle to separate and then later sink. Because the brew is in a barrel, air will ingress slowly thus creating another pellicle. This can happen several times if disturbed.


Al B
05/11/12 12:55 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
The pellicle is comprised of living cells - mostly Brett , in the early stages followed by dead cells and probably some by-products. Polysaccharide is derived from Pedio (slime) of which is located at the bottom of the barrel and is later chewed on by Brett mostly. That will cause in addition to other complex sugars and starch to create CO2 that you see during aging.
05/11/12 04:34 PM  
Re: lambic pellicle question
That makes sense....thanks Al!
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