Blonde Ale turned (accidentally) Sour

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Antg8989, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. Antg8989

    Antg8989 Crusader (746) Jul 18, 2014 New Jersey

    What would you fellow homebrewers suggest?

    A little background...

    Recently brewed a blonde ale (added some flaked corn - so it's hovering the line of blonde and cream).

    Upon closing the lid, I dropped my rubber stopper in the fermentation bucket. I sanitized my arm, stuck my arm in the wort and pulled the stopper out. Definitely must have gotten some kind of bacteria/wild yeast in the wort. Needless to say, I will never make that mistake again. Yes I'm an idiot, but let's move on.

    Definitely looks like a pellicle has formed. I tasted the fermented beer 3 days ago and it tasted off.
    Today I tasted it, and it tastes like white wine; so now it looks like I've got myself a sour.

    My question(s) are, how much longer should I let this ferment for, and at what temperature? (I like where the flavor is heading now, and I definitely don't want to dump).

    Is there anything I should add to make this a "better" sour?
    What type of yeast/bacteria is causing this "white wine" aroma/flavor?

    Here is my recipe for the 5 gallon batch:

    8 lbs American Pale 2 Row Malt
    1lb American Caramel/Crystal Malt 10L
    1 lb. Flaked oats
    0.5 oz Cascade 60 Minutes
    0.5 oz Cascade 20 Minutes

    Pitched White Labs Kolsch Yeast August 22nd. Fermenting at 63º-65º

    Today's date is September 10th.

    Thanks BAs!
  2. Antg8989

    Antg8989 Crusader (746) Jul 18, 2014 New Jersey

    Here's an image for reference.

  3. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

  4. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (196) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    I would guess that you've got Pediococcus in there. Brettanomyces doesn't generally sour beer very much (under some conditions it can produce acetic acid, but that doesn't fit your description very well), and Lactobacillus is generally not hop-tolerant. But I emphasize this is just guesswork based on the common microbes found in sour beer. And of course you might also have Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, etc. along for the ride.

    If it is Pediococcus, then you'll probably want some Brettanomyces in there as well. That's because Pediococcus can produce a lot of diacetyl, which Brettanomyces will eliminate.

    I would recommend adding something like Yeast Bay's Melange blend. This will give you the Brettanomyces you need to deal with any diacetyl production, and it will add some complexity and perhaps some extra sourness as well. You can follow Yeast Bay's instructions as to temperature.

    One thing to note, though, is that you'll be pitching microbes into an already-fermented beer. That will tend to subdue the character that you get from the additional microbes. You might consider adding some new wort if you want to aim for something that is more sour and/or funky.

    The other option, of course, is to let it ride and see if you have some interesting microbes going, rather than obscuring them with a commercial product. If you end up with excessive diacetyl character, you could add Brettanomyces at that point to address it.

    No matter what you do, you should let it go for several more weeks to see what happens. I've found sour beers to be fairly forgiving in terms of temperature while aging. Any comfortable room temperature should be fine. I suppose high 60s is probably ideal, although for a sharper sour/funky character the 70s might be better.
    frozyn, Lukass and Antg8989 like this.
  5. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (254) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Man O War blonde sour...
  6. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,762) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    A. If you like it, package it, chill it, and start enjoying it.
    B. If you don't like it, dump it.
    C. If you are not sure, let it sit around, check in with it at approximately monthly intervals. When you feel decisive about it, A, or B.

    Me personally, I am not optimistic about these things. I do not want fermenters, kegs, and bottles of beer that I sometimes sorta kinda can stomach. I wind up at B more often than A.
  7. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (733) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Don't have an extra stopper?

    For new brewers: This man is not an idiot, unless he hasn't already purchased another stopper as a backup. :slight_smile:
  8. Antg8989

    Antg8989 Crusader (746) Jul 18, 2014 New Jersey

    I've got THREE now!
    SFACRKnight and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  9. Antg8989

    Antg8989 Crusader (746) Jul 18, 2014 New Jersey

    This is all extremely helpful. Over the next couple of days I will make a decision and stick it out and see what happens.
  10. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    First of all, trying to "fix" a contaminated beer is usually not terribly successful. That said, if you want to give it a whirl, here's what I'd do. First, I'd go to the HBS and replace everything plastic or rubber that will touch this beer. Porous surfaces can provide places for microbes to reside and some can even survive some decently powerful reducing agents. Contamination of your clean beers isn't worth the risk, IMO.

    BTW, do you have a pH meter? It would be useful to find out how much this beer has acidified. It would also be useful to either purge your headspace with CO2 or just keep the lid on it. Oxygen isn't your friend in mixed fermentations.

    Secondly, minderbender had some very good suggestions, so I'll just add my two cents to what he's already said.

    Whatever it is, you've definitely got some extracellular polymeric substance there. The issue with that is that it's impossible to tell which microbes contributed to it. It could be one microbe or it could be a few distinctly different ones, as it/they came from your stopper, or, more probably, your skin and/or hair. "White wine" is not overly specific to any particular microbe, other than white wine yeast, so it may be that a drop in pH has given you a nose of lactic acid or you may be perceiving acetaldehyde and/or ethyl acetate. Again, microbial identification is impossible without at least a microscopic examination.

    Well . . . even though I'd agree that pitching a Brettanomyces sp. is probably the best option, regular old S. cerevisiae will metabolize the diacetyl as well. It just so happens that Brett. sp. tend to be more pH tolerant, so they are probably a better choice if this beer has a lower pH.

    I'd say the OP has three decent options. All of them start with smelling and tasting the beer. I'd first take a hydrometer reading, though, as if there's has been active fermentation (which I assume there has been because of the krausen ring in the fermenter) it's safe to sample. If it smells and tastes OK, let it ride. If it's kind of gross AND you like what Brettanomyces brings to the table, make a starter of Brett Brux var drie or vrai, pitch it once it's active, and give the beer about 8 uninterrupted weeks of fermentation time without opening the lid. If it's really gross I'd feed it to your drain. You can obviously see what happens, but really gross things, like isovaleric and butyric acid tend to not go away even with Brettanomyces sp. in solution.

    If you have other questions, feel free to ask or, even better, visit the Milk the Funk wiki:
  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Once it's done fermenting throw some fruit at it for shits and grins. If it's not that great, the fruit can help cover some disappointing flavors.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  12. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (733) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    ...unless it's lush vomit mixed with baby diapers :grimacing::grimacing:
    JackHorzempa and SFACRKnight like this.
  13. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (106) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    things that make you say hmmm......
    not sure if you need a remedial course or if you've aced GreenKrusty101 and can advance to 102. :thinking_face:
  14. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    Not trying to insult anyone with this comment, but you are describing all sour beers in my opinion O.O
  15. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Butyric acid and chlorophenols bro. Brett can fix one of those things...
  16. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (121) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Next time this happens take a clear garbage bag and soak it in starsan then stick your arm in the bag and reach in. I would dump that. You'll learn from your mistakes.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  17. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    You forgot the "n" at the beginning of that word.
  18. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

  19. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    No I didn't. Yakobsen found that brett can metabolize butyric acid into more pleasant compounds, unless there are copious amounts of butyric acid in solution.
  20. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (886) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Yeah . . . but that's not the whole story. Esterification and transesterification are equilibrium reactions, which means that all of the compound in solution will not be hydrolyzed. Whatever it is will only be transformed until an equilibrium is achieved. Translation: if you have butyric acid that is significantly above threshold, it is unlikely that Brettanomyces species will esterify enough of it into ethyl butyrate to bring those levels below threshold and different species and strains of Brettanomyces have different levels of esterase activity.

    From the MTF page you cited:

    Ethyl Butyrate at low levels, which has a pineapple, tropical fruit aroma and flavor, but at high levels not all butyric acid will be converted into ethyl butyrate. Ethyl butyrate production occurred in only half of the Brettanomyces strains studied by Yakobson, with this conversion being less with the addition of lactic acid, indicating that ethyl butyrate conversion from butyric acid is strain dependent and slows in the presence of lactic acid
  21. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    I realize that by saying I am not trying to be insulting, basically mean I am no matter what, but I have no idea how people drink sour beers. I just can't do it. I also realize I am in the minority when it comes to that...
  22. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,262) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Yeah, that's what I said, but in a more concise manner.
    frozyn and chavinparty like this.