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My first Berliner Weisse started with just Lacto - no visible activity after 48 hours

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Gilmango, Feb 21, 2013.

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  1. Gilmango

    Gilmango Aspirant (224) Jul 17, 2007 California

    I've brewed many sours and brett'd beers but never made a Berliner Weisse before. Looking for recipes before I brewed I was a bit surprised by all the different methods homebrewers use. I settled on the notion of using about 8% acidulated malt (50% German Pils malt, 42% white wheat) and also adding the lacto first before any ale yeast, both in hopes of getting something that would have a noticeable sourness w/o needing more than 2 or 3 months in the carboy.

    Given the 1.028 o.g. I thought I'd be OK with just adding a tube of the White Labs Lacto. D. (no starter) to the semi-cooled wort (I pitched it at 80F as I read this might help the Lacto get a head start). Ambient temp. is now much colder - perhaps that's part of the problem (I could add the brew belt to my carboy though they suggest only using that with plastic pails).

    So far no signs of fermentation in terms of krausen or noticeable CO2 presence (certainly no pellicle) in my brew closet (no airlock on - just tinfoil). I was planning to add the ale yeast tonight (2.5 days after the lacto went in) and suspect that will quickly get visible fermentation going - but part of me still wants to know that the lacto did get a head start.

    So I guess my questions are (1) is it normal to see signs of fermentation with just lacto? (2) does lacto only fermentation require higher temperatures than 65F? and (3) anyone regularly use a brewbelt on a glass carboy with no bad results?
  2. CASK1

    CASK1 Disciple (336) Jan 7, 2010 Florida

    If you can warm it up, that will help the Lacto, but you won't see any activity. Lactic acid fermentation does not produce any CO2. I can't remember if Lacto makes a pellicle, but if it does, it will take quite a while. Best way to see if it's doing its thing is to steal a sample and taste.

    EDIT - I see you're at 65F. Lacto will be happiest at 100 or even higher.
    ditch likes this.
  3. ditch

    ditch Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2009 Virginia

    IMHO pitching the Lacto first will get you a similar start on getting the tartness you are looking for. A sour mash is the easiest and fastest way I have found to get that Lacto tartness into the Berliner. My method has been sour mash, separate from the regular mash. Add the boiled sour mash to the primary after the primary mash has been fermented out with a sac yeast. I have found that the sac fermentation can be sent out of wack by the acidity. I have also had some pretty decent luck getting more tartness from pitching Lacto into the secondary and aging for 6-12 months.
  4. Gilmango

    Gilmango Aspirant (224) Jul 17, 2007 California

    Thanks for the feedback so far. I posted from work and when I got home a couple hours later I could see little bubbles on top mostly around the sides of the carboy, by the morning the whole carboy has an interesting krausen - some bigger bubbles than usual, perhaps a bit less skim-able. Very pleased to see this.

    Still very curious about brew belts and glass and guess I will search around to see what I can about that.

    Before I brewed I did read something oldsock posted on his blog that the white labs Lacto. was one that was capable of fermenting maltose and of generating CO2 which is why I did expect to see more of what I am finally seeing, here are a couple paragraphs from his post and the link (of course oldsock made a starter and pitched at 100F so that might explain why he had such a faster and more visible fermentation) http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/06/100-lactobacillus-berliner-weisse.html:

    Luckily White Labs’ 677 strain is capable of producing an enzyme which allows it to ferment maltose, maltotriose, and raffinose, ensuring a dry finished beer without aid. In addition to lactic acid, WLP677 also produces both alcohol and carbon-dioxide, so the result should be similar to a beer fermented with yeast. Even if my attempt to use this particular strain doesn’t work, it may just mean that I have to find a strain that is better suited for the task.

    The confidence to try this technique was inspired by a conversation I had with Tyler King, of The Bruery, while researching my book about American sour beers. He told me that Hottenroth (their Berliner weisse) is fermented almost exclusively by Lacto. There is also a small amount of Brett in their house culture as well, but every time it is plated out the yeast represents a smaller and smaller share of the cells. For early batches it took about two months for reduction of the sulfur compounds to palatable levels, but the culture has adapted and now the beer only takes a month before it is ready for packaging.
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