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Gail W
05/11/14 08:22 PM  
Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
About a month ago, on 1/18/14, this research paper was published, after looking at populations in two batches at Cantillon. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0095384 "The Microbial Diversity of Traditional Spontaneously Fermented Lambic Beer" Freek Spitaels, Anneleen D. Wieme, Maarten Janssens, Maarten Aerts, Heide-Marie Daniel, Anita Van Landschoot, Luc De Vuyst, Peter Vandamme I have seen a few comments at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f127/cantillon-microbiota-472049/ but nothing else. I'm still waiting for more interpretations and questions. From the basic homebrewing point of view, these are the items that jumped out at me: - No Lactobaccilli were involved - The importance of Saccharomyces pastorianus was a surprise - a novel species of Acetobactor around for about the whole fermentation - the airbourne part of the innoculation evidently did not include the main players we know so well: "...members of the Enterobacteriaceae family were present in the wort before its transfer into the casks. These rather adventitious bacteria, S. pastorianus and some other yeast species, may have at least partially originated from the brewery air, but the present study failed to isolate the key micro-organisms P. damnosus, S. cerevisiae and D. bruxellensis from environmental samples. These micro-organisms were either missed by the sampling protocol or were concealed in niches that were not sampled. Examples of such niches are biofilms in and the pores of the wooden casks." More confirmation of why my plastic bucket back porch innoculations need to have Brett added later. I'm not a microbiologist so I am hoping to see others poke at this study with clarifications and further questions... What does this study say to you?
Gail W
05/12/14 12:33 AM  
Re: Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
Sorry, typo alert. That date was 4/18/14, or April 18 2014.
05/24/14 12:36 AM  
Re: Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
Interesting that S. pastorianus (lager yeast) dominates early. Need genomics.
Gail W
05/28/14 05:50 PM  
Re: Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
Yeah, really. S. pastorianus (lager yeast) is a huge surprise. So what do you mean by "need genomics." Is that data from the study that we can potentially get a look at,
or further research?

I remembered learning that Rodenbach uses lager yeast in the primary. (Rudy Ghequire said that was because they are interested in acidification. I didn't quite understand enough to ask the follow-up question, but I understood him at the time to be referring to acidity versus "funk.") However, (Brett in the foudres to the contrary), Rodenbach always seemed to be the very definition of domestication of the older, wilder beers, created by a British-trained brewmaster. The Lambic breweries would be the real thing, with DNA connecting the gang of microbiota making magic today back to the beginnings of brewing, perhaps back to the invention of the barrel, and in some portion back to the discovery of fermentation.

This seems so odd. It breaks some of the romance, but like lots of research, it raises more questions than it answers.
Where the hell did that lager yeast come from?

We hear about new gueuzeries long ago being baptized with a bottle of beer sprayed around near the coolship. Was a bottle of lager added to the celebration someplace along the way? Or a bottle of early Rodenbach?

What about the famous concerns about moving a Lambic brewery and losing the ambient mixture that gives the specific flavors? Were the old brewers imagining that problem? Is it a myth?

And how can there be no Lactobaccilli? Maybe it's due to sitting in San Francisco with a sourdough jar on top of my fridge, but I can't believe none would be taking hold. Two batches, too.

I'm thinking, if I could snap my fingers, how would I follow up. How about taking a glass carboy off of the coolship and fermenting it sans barrel contact, and then doing both sensory and microbiological comparisons with barrel samples after a year. Anything there in small quantities that manifests later?

What about all that barrel-cleaning with the "torture" chains at Cantillon? What's getting scrubbed, and what is the population mix that survives?

I have nothing but questions, and all the answers are probably guesses. Oy! Well, we may as well speculate and find more questions.
Mike T
05/29/14 08:21 AM  
Re: Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
Likely the high hopping rate is responsible for the lack of Lactobacillus. Allagash uses a lower rate than the tradition, which probably explains why their beers do exhibit Lacto activity.

Cantillon doesn’t temperature control their barrels, in the winter that likely gives the edge to any lager yeast present. Lagers tend to finish with a slightly lower pH than ales. I know New Belgium uses lager yeast as well for their sour beers. Although in that case it sounds like more of a convenience than anything. As to how the lager yeast got into the lambic, that is anyone’s guess!

As for moving breweries, I’ve always expected the barrels and blending played a larger piece than the brewery itself, but it is hard to say exactly. I know Jean Van Roy has talked about the importance of allowing the barrels to krausen out, dry, and create a yeasty-dust. Others credit the wooden beams over the coolship, where steam can condense and fall back into the wort. If Cantillon ever releases their amphora-fermented lambic, we’ll have an interesting flavor-comparison point of their beers minus the wood.
05/29/14 10:28 AM  
Re: Microbial Diversity study at Cantillon
Gail, I think your mostly right that the paper raises more questions than it answers. They try their best to get around sampling bias but I'm not convinced. Specifically, it really would have been nice to get culture-independent data from the "1 night cooling tun" samples. Unfortunately, they say the DNA extracted from these samples was poor.

So while we know the wort is inoculated in the coolship, and it may just be by Enterobacteria, we really can't say for sure. Add that to limitations of rRNA analyses and this really calls for unbiased, whole-genome sequencing -- like what people are doing to characterize everything living in the soil.

If we sequence everything in a drop of lambic, we may also find significant variation within populations of a given yeast/bacteria species. Luckily sequencing costs are continuing to fall, and lambic is probably a much less complex community than soil. So we shouldn't have to wait too long.
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