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02/11/13 09:39 PM  
Brett starter suicide
I picked up a 22oz of Matila from Goose Island a whilte back. For the unfamilar, like I was, it's a take on Orval. Very nice beer. Brett in bottling. I emailed Goose Island and they said they use a strain of Brett L.

Great, I thought, a beer and Brett for the price of just commercial Brett (minus about 124 billion cells).

I put a bit of in a a little jar of 1.040 and let it go. Stepped up a few times and I had quite the little Brett farm going. Smelled great. Cherry, fruity, melony, etc.

But then I forgot about them. A month went by. It now smelled a bit tart. The taste was something off the chart sour. Very barnyard and urinal. I thought something was amiss. So I decanted the rather sour liquid and added fresh DME. Nothing grew. Ever again. I think it died. I have always read that Brett isn't particularly sour on its own, but Dayum, this was sour power.

Did it die from neglect or was something else at work here?

02/12/13 08:47 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
if Goose Island only add the Brett at bottling, wouldn't there still be Sach in the beer too?

the combination of both would become sour over time.

Ryan Hope
05/12/13 10:05 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Any idea if the the beer is pasteurized before the brett was added?
05/13/13 09:55 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
shibolet, interesting. Why would the combo create sourness?
Mike T
05/13/13 03:56 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Brett can produce acetic acid if given enough access to oxygen. Brett won't produce much under “normal” fermentation conditions, but it can in aerated starters. Did you have an airlock on the starter? If not something else could have gotten in as well. Can't think of a reason brewer's yeast presence would matter.
05/13/13 09:25 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
The only thing I can think of Mike is that the competition sacch would represent would probably make the brett work harder. I never thought of that as resulting in more acid, anybody know if that's the case?
Ryan Hope
05/21/13 10:08 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Just so you know, I emailed Goose Island and they confirmed that Matilda is not pasteurized at any point throughout the brewing process.
06/02/13 04:20 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Nope, not aerated and just had a foil cover over the jar. For these things in the future, I've moved to pressure cooked starters to fully sterlilize the wort. Not sure if it is contaminated, but a possibility.
06/02/13 09:43 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Given that you just had foil covering the container for +1 months there could have been a lot of oxygen exchange, and it sounds like you didn't feed it for a while. So, sorry to say, I think it died and soured from neglect.

Brett cultures need consistent care or else refrigeration, not too different from regular yeast though.

Mike T
06/03/13 09:07 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
"Brett cultures need consistent care or else refrigeration, not too different from regular yeast though."

Why would this be any different than bottle dregs? You can resurrect Brett from bottles that are years (and in some cases decades) old. Brett in lambics continues fermenting for a couple years without being fed. Chad Yakobson, and others, have actually reported that they see better cell viability when storing Brett at room temperature rather than in the fridge.

06/03/13 10:20 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
I wonder if the initial pleasant smells came from saccharomyces and some of the later barnyard aroma came from brett finally waking up. As far as the sourness, is it possible your bottle harvesting process wasn't as sanitary as it could have been? Some unwelcome bacteria on the mouth of the bottle may have made its way into the starter. That would be my guess for the most probable source of unwelcomed passengers.

I've had strange results trying to harvest brett out of bottle dregs and building up the culture. Weird starters with pellicles and funky growths on the sides of the flask, but they always produced ok beers.

06/03/13 10:23 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Bottles are capped or corked, so less oxygen permeability than foil.

Can't say for sure why the culture died, but we're talking about a single aliquot, not the repeated experiments that Chad did.

I'm just telling you from my own experience that leaving a pure or mixed culture of Brett at room temp for months at a time with high oxygen permeability often results in a sour, spoiled culture. I've had this happen with 1st generation smack packs of Brett B and Brett L.

06/04/13 03:06 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Yea, its almost a certainty that you had an infection. Tin foil is fine while fermenting because there is positive pressure pushing out, but once that finishes you need an airlock.
Mike T
06/04/13 04:32 PM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
Agreed, I'd suspect the issue is the oxygen, not the temperature. I went a couple months between feedings for my Brett B culture at room temperature without issue, but I used an airlock.
06/06/13 10:55 AM  
Re: Brett starter suicide
I do not feed any of my brett cultures. I just keep them on a shelf in my fermentation closet and some are refrigerated. They do not get fresh wort periodically they just periodically get pitched into beers. Sometimes I'll toss in fresh wort if the culture volume is shrinking. If the culture changes a little on me that's fine, I'm okay with that. I prefer a little drift on the cultures because it means they're adapting to their specific environment and becoming a little more unique to my uses. It's actually a goal for me. If I wanted them to taste the same all the time I'd just keep buying a pack or vial from WL or Wyeast which is prop'd from their -80C stock I'm sure.
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