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09/30/13 09:01 PM  
Does anyone have pH targets?
I've been keeping a log of sour beers such as Gueze, Lambics and American Wild Ales and it appears that the majority of them range from 3 - 3.4 pH. Does anyone purposely target this pH range when making sour beers? It seems there are different ways to get a beers pH this low but is one way more consistent or yields better results than another? From what I have read it seems that the most common ways are: 1) Sour mash (only good for BW?) 2) Pitch bacteria first 3) Pitch everything at once (takes longer?) 4) Pitch bacteria last 5) Blend a sour batch with a non sour batch * Has anyone found that using acid malt helps with any of these methods? Thanks for your feedback!
David M
10/01/13 01:47 AM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
There is no simple answer. Different methods yield different results and are different styles. Also, it really depends on what kind of bacteria you are using. A pure lactobacillus strain is going to have a completely different result from using a brettanomyces/lactobacillus/pediococcus blend, and pitching it in secondary will give different results as well. In short, any of those methods can be used to make good beers, it's more using a method properly.

As far as acid malt goes, it's good for a little lactic twang, but it's pretty one-dimensional on its own. I normally use it when I want a subtle sour undertone rather than a major flavor component. I've never used it in something I was souring, but I know low pH reduces ester formation in brett beers. It would likely affect the outcome, but AFAIK it hasn't been widely explored.
Nick P.
10/01/13 05:52 PM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
I typically target 3.4 before I think about bottling or blending. There are many ways to get a low PH. My favorite is to ferment in Primary with ECY and then let it sit for 1.5 years. Even better age in a barrel as you get added body in the finish of the beer from the wood aging!

Here is my experience as I take PH readings of my sours throughout the aging process.

Acid Malt works but not as complex:
I have done an Ithaca Brute clone with 20% acid malt and it turned out really good, but not complex like a traditional sour aged on lacto, pedio, brett.

Pitching Sacc first, and a first generation Roselaere doesn't work well -
I've pitched Sacc first in a carboy, and then Roseleare and it never got below 3.6 ph after 2 years.

Primary with Sacc, and then Secondary in a barrel with 2nd and 3rd generation(Roseleare and ECY Flemish) which are more aggressive and it turned out fantastic after 15 months and at about 3.3-3.4 ph.

I've had a lot of success with Pitching Mixed Cultures in Primary and exercising patience for 1.5 years!
I have a 21 month Sour Saison that is at about 3.3 ph and that was pitched with a mixed fermentation in Primary.
I have 5 others that are the same.

10/02/13 02:05 AM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
So it looks like the most successful methods involve pitching brett and bacteria together and then several (12-24) months of aging.

I was wondering if there was a faster method? For example, I saw a video of an NHC seminar on brewing Berliner Weisse and the gentleman from Wyeast said that pitching bacteria first for a week would bring down the pH to 3.3 then you could pitch sacromyces. Would this method work pitching a large brett starter instead of sacromyces?

The reason I mentioned acid malt was because Wild Brews mentioned adding 10 percent acid malt to get the starting pH down. I heard that Bret likes to ferment at a lower pH and that both brett and sacr bring pH down by 7 to 10 points during normal fermentation depending on how vigorous it is. So I was wondering if this method would give lacto or pedio a head start if pitched later?

Thanks for all of your help!
11/22/13 03:37 PM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
I don't worry about ph at all on sour beers, neither for flavor, bottling, blending etc.. it's is all about taste.
Everyone is going to have different results/outcomes on pitching and what goes first and second...An individual will probably even have different results doing the same thing on one recipe at different times.

I personally pitch everything right away. I have had some beers ready for kegging/bottling in six months and some still sitting at almost 2 years.
12/03/13 12:19 AM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
Thanks everyone for their help with this.

I recently tried a 100% brett beer which I fermented with a 2 liter starter. I pitched lacto at the same time as the brett (1.052) but it didn't have much of an effect on souring. After it reached 1.006 I pitched a packet of pedio in hopes of helping it turn around. It's been 2 months and the pH is still hovering around 4 (not too sour).

Has anyone experienced this and had their beer get very sour later? I am concerned with the low gravity there may not be much for the pedio to work on.
08/01/14 03:00 AM  
Re: Does anyone have pH targets?
Update. After 3 months I added 4 oz of maltodextrin an within a month ph dropped significantly! I pulled some off, force carbonated it and entered it as a gueze in the NHC. Got 2nd (at 6 mos old). Sent 3 bottles to the final round and just got the judging sheets back. All 3 judges commented on how sour it was. The maltodextrin works. Next time I'll use less.
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