#57 Lambic 2012

Eureka, its time for another very cool project of mine. I have to apologize for the very few postings lately. I am very busy with my lab research lately. However, I am still homebrewing, drinking beers and yeast ranching. So no worries.

Fig 1: Girardin’s Faro

I visited my local last week after several months once again and had the opportunity to try a lot of great beers from other homebrewers and even some really amazing commercial examples. They even had Girardin’s Oude Lambik on tab. Wow! Even a Girardin Lambic tastes great. However, a Lambic is not as complex as you would expect from a Geuze because Geuzes are blends of different Lambics to improve the complexity. And this Lambic was no exception. The Oude Lambik has a very subtle sourness and even a malty aftertaste. By the way, the Oude Lambik was flat as expected. I then tried Girardin’s Faro. A Faro is basically a blend of Lambics and then bottled with sugar and sometimes spices or other sources of sugar such as molasses, caramel are added in addition. In the Faro from Girardin caramel is added. I really liked the Faro because it has some carbonation which makes it easier to appreciate in my opinion.The taste and aroma reminded my of a very young Lambic. Once again, the complexity, sourness and funkiness were rather subtle. It even had a bitter aftertaste. I then tried Girardin’s Framboise before heading home. I assume this Framboise was bottled just a few weeks before. The aroma was just incredible. I have never encountered such an intense raspberry aroma in a beer before. It smelled like a homemade raspberry jam. Amazing! And no sourness or funkiness at all. Just amazing! On the other hand, this particular Framboise was not sweet like other even pasteurized examples. The last Framboise beers I had (like 3 Fonteinen’s) were rather “old” and the fruity character was no longer detectable or lets say rather subtle. Sourness and funkiness were the main components there. However, I would prefer a Gueuze in this case instead. It is somewhat not worthy in my opinion to store a Framboise, Kriek etc. to lose the fruity character. Enough with commercial examples. The whole sour beer stuff reminded me of my latest Lambic attempt.

This post is all about my second attempt to brew a Lambic style beer. However not a traditional Lambic beer with the spontaneous fermentation method.

My first attempt to brew a Lambic ended in a very sour beer. Nevertheless, I still wanted to give this style another go. It took me nearly five years to brew my second attempt… The five years gave me a lot of opportunities to read books, blogs and other sources about sour brewing. And tasted a lot of great Lambics and Gueuzes (like described above). In Spring 2012, I decided to finally brew another Lambic. This time, I went with a traditional turbid mash instead of a single infusion step. Lets go through the recipe:

Recipe: Lambic 2012
Numbers: Volume [L] 45 (11.9 gal)
Original gravity 13.5°P
Terminal gravity N/A
Color Around 5 EBC
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 6.3 kg
Wheat flakes
3.5 kg
Hops: Old hops (< 1% AA) 240 g and boil for 120 min
Yeast: Wyeast’s #3278 Lambic Blend and Milupa1 for primary
(see description below)
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 41 L (10.8 gal), sparge: 34 L (9 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Turbid mash (see description below) Mash in @45°C (113°F), 20 min @45°C (113°F), 15 min @52°C (126°F), 45 min @65°C (149°F), 30 min @72°C (162°F), 5 min @78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 120 min
Fermentation: Primary > 365 days @20°C (68°F) in glass fermenters
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) N/A
Maturation time N/A

I would like to give you a short overview about the whole turbid mash schedule first. Have a quick look at the schedule below. The whole process sounds really difficult but it is not. You basically need three different kettles and that’s it. To get you an idea what a turbid mash schedule looks like have a look at this Youtube video.

Fig 2: Mash kettle preparation with perforated bottom

06/28/12: Lambic brew day. I chose to do a traditional turbid mash this time. All started with heating up 41 L of water to approximately 45°C in the water kettle. I added my false bottom in the mash kettle to drain off the turbid mash later on (Fig 2). I then transferred 8.2 L of water from the water kettle into the mash kettle and mashed in (Fig 3). The whole mash was very, very thick. I then left the mash rest for 20 min at 45°C. The remaining water in the water kettle was heated up to a boil.

After the first rest at 45°C, I added another 8.2 L of boiling water to the mash. The temperature now was 52°C. Another 15 min rest.

Fig 3: First rest at 45°C

Fig 4: First turbid wort

After the second rest, I removed 5.5 L of the liquid from the mash kettle. This wort is called turbid wort. You can easily see why in Fig 4. The turbid wort was heated up to 88°C.

After the second rest in the mash kettle (and after removing the turbid wort), I added 12.3 L of boiling water. The temperature now was at 65°C. Rest for 45 min at 65°C.

As the third rest passed, I removed another 5.5 L of turbid wort and added it to the preheated turbid wort from the previous removal and reheated to 88°C again.

I then added another 12.3 L of boiling wort to the mash kettle. The temperature now was at 72°C. Rest for 30 min at 72°C.

Now was the time to heat up the 34 L of sparging water to 88°C.

After the rest at 72°C, I added the turbid worts back to the mash and the temperature rose to 78°C. I then left the mash rest for 5 min and sparged to a gravity of 2°P. By the way, the wort was iodine positive. Indicating some starches were still left in the wort.

This was the whole turbid mash schedule already. Adding hot or boiling water to the mash to increase the temperature is basically a decoction mash. The special step in turbid mashing are the removal of turbid worts. The turbid worts contain enzymes, sugars and starches. By heating them up to 88°C, the enzymes get denatured (destroyed) and can’t work anymore. This leaves the sugars and starches in this worts. The resting time of approximately 5 min at 78°C after you add these turbid worts back to the mash are not enough to convert the remaining starches and sugars. Meaning, you add some unfermentable sugars and starches back to your wort. These unfermentable sugars are quite important for the Brettanomyces and maybe some bacteria later on during the fermentation. Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) can’t ferment unfermentable sugars and starches. I guess this why they are called unfermentable sugars after all. These unfermentable sugars however can be metabolized by the Brettanomyces and gives these yeasts an opportunity to grow during the fermentation process as these yeasts are rather slow growers.

Back to the wort. I boiled the wort for two hours with the addition of 240 g of old hops I stored for at least two years. Can’t remember the variety. I guess it was a German variety like Tettnanger, Hallertauer or Saazer. Then cooled the wort down, added two packages of Wyeast’s Lambic Blend and filled two 10 L, one 20 L and half a 10 L glass carboy with the wort.

Fig 5: Fermentation in progress…

06/29/12: I already had to replace all the airlocks because the fermentation was already in progress (Fig 5).

07/07/12: Lambic already nine days in the carboys. The fermentation calmed down and it was time to add the real souring bugs. I first added medium toasted French oak chips to the carboys (25 g per 10 L). I boiled the chips in some water first (approximately 2 min) and discarded the dark brown water. Then added fresh water again and repeated the boiling process once again. Then discharged the water again and added the chips to the carboys. Then added my own souring mixture called Milupa1. This mixture consists of the following bugs: Wyeast’s Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Wyeast’s Brettanomyces lambicus, some Girardin Gueze dregs, some dregs from Les Trois Dames’s Oud Bruin and a Brettanomyces strain I previously isolated from a Cantillon Kriek. This mixture was quite aggressive in some trial fermentations and a pellicle formed just after a few days. Good enough for me to let this mixture eat through some Lambic wort. I added some of the mixture to each of the glass carboys (except one) and left the wort to the new introduced bugs. The one without the Milupa1 bugs is a control to test how the single Lambic Blend from Wyeast works.

10/13/12: Lambic now three months in the carboys (Fig 6). The carboys on the left side and right side are the ones with Milupa1. The carboy in the middle has no Milupa1 bugs. The 20 L carboy is not shown. The Lambic already smells amazing. However, I haven’t tasted any of the Lambics. Still a long time to go…

Fig 6: Lambic after three months in carboys

I hope I could give you some insight into the whole Lambic homebrewing process and maybe give you some new information as well. I will keep updating this post in the future. Stay tuned!

#50 The Folly Flanders Brown

Eureka, its time for another recipe. This particular recipe is batch number 50 so far. I chose to brew a Flanders Brown Ale for this occasion because I really like this particular style very much. I will celebrate this milestone with at least a glass of Rodenbach Grand Cru poured from a draft (although it is not a Flanders Brown but I don’t care about that). Man am I lucky…. my favorite bar managed to get a keg of Rodenbach’s Grand Cru and will put it on tap soon. Can’t wait to try it. However, this post is about a recipe for a Flanders Brown. There is one beer I never had so far but heard so much about it. I am talking about La Folie from New Belgium. This beer inspired me to make something similar to the La Folie. And this led my to the La Folie Clone recipe from No Limit Brewing. And I more or less used the posted recipe there and made some minor changes (some of them were not intended…). Lets go through the recipe:

Recipe: The Folly Brown Ale
Numbers: Volume [L] 41 (10.8 gal)
Original gravity 15.7°P
Terminal gravity N/A
Color Around 24 EBC
ABV >7 %
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 1.0 kg
Pale malt (6.5 EBC) 7.0 kg
Munich malt (14.5 EBC) 1 kg
Cara Munich 2 (120 EBC) 0.8 kg
Cara Munich 3 (120 EBC) 0.4 kg
Oat flakes 0.4 kg
Hops: Willamette (5.6% AA) 71 g and boil for 60 min
Yeast: #3763 Roeselare Blend/ #1581 Belgian Stout and dregs from various sour beers (see below)
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 28 L (7.4 gal), sparge: 44 L (11.6 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @68°C (154°F), 60 min @ 68°C (154°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 14 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenters
Secondary 1 year @ 20°C (68°F) in various fermenters and add 56 g of medium toasted French oak chips for 22 weeks
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2-2.5 vol
Maturation time Months to years

Collecting the wort

04/07/12: Brew day number 50 begins. I prepared all the malts for milling and as I started milling I asked myself, why Pilsner malt is used as a base malt for such a recipe. I then went back to the protocol and had to notice, that I prepared Pilsner malt instead of the Pale malt… Fortunately enough, I only milled 1 kg of Pilsner malt already and so I replaced the remaining Pilsner malt with the Pale malt as originally planed… Luckily, all the other steps went according to the protocol. Iodine test was negative after resting for one hour and so I proceeded to the sparging process. I then sparged until the wort’s gravity was approximately 2°P and then stopped collecting. I then boiled the wort for one hour with the addition of the hops and cooled the wort down and split the wort between two fermenters to have enough head space.

The original gravity was 15.7°P and the volume 41 L. The original recipe from No Limit Brewing called for a 16°P wort. So close enough.

Because one package of Wyeast’s Roeselare blend was not enough to ferment 41 L of wort, I decided to pitch some of Wyeast’s #1581 Belgian Stout yeast cake from a previous batch as well to ensure a healthy primary fermentation. The Belgian yeast should not have a big influence on the aroma and flavor of the beer since the beer is going to mature for some time. The only impact the yeast can have on the beer is the attenuation level. The Belgian yeast has an attenuation level of 70- 85% (as stated by Wyeast). A high attenuation level would leave less fermentable sugars left for any other bacteria or yeasts.

04/21/12: Measured gravity was 4.2°P. Racked the beer into three different glass carboys and left one share in a plastic fermenter. I did so to test the influence of my plastic fermenter on the oxygen transfer. Some say that the plastic fermenters tend to increase the oxygen in the beer due to the high oxygen permeability of the plastic itself. I will see how the beer in the plastic fermenter turns out compared to one from a glass fermenter (as a control). I then added dregs from a Girardin Gueuze to one glass carboy, and dregs from a 3 Fonteinen Geuze to another. I now have three different fermentations in glass. One, without any dregs, acts as a control to compare the effects of oxygen and to test the complexity of the Roeselare Blend on its own. The two others with the dregs are to check the effects of the dregs. Simple as that. I will leave these fermenters in my cellar at roughly 15-20°C (58-68°F) for a while and will add some wood chips later on.

05/05/12: Had to check the fermenters. The smell between the different fermenters is already different. The fermenters without any dregs smell rather clean and fruity, the other ones with the Girardin and 3 Fonteinen dregs smell quite funky already. There were some white bubble spots on the surfaces. Can’t wait to see some pellicles in the next weeks/months.

07/22/12: Added 80 g of Medium Toasted French oak chips to the four fermenters in total.

Bottle dregs harvest: 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze

Eureka, another post about dregs and a really awesome beer. Since September 2011, Bern has a new local beer pub for beer geeks like me. The bar is run by the legendary Erzbierschof and he has a huge variety of different beers in stock. I have to mention that there was no beer-geek-pub in Switzerland before.

My first visit was in mid September and had a bunch of beers like Anchor Steam’s Porter, Southern Tier’s Pumpking and a 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze. I have to say, I was quite speechless after the first sip of this particular Gueuze and had a big smile in my face (like the Cheshire Cat…) This beer is still one of my favorites.

I got myself another bottle in December and tried it on the 14th of January 2012. Still the same awesome beer.

Aroma: Could notice some hints of apple, slight vinegar note, horse placket, very funky. I just love the smell.

Appearance: Yellow, lightly hazy, some carbonation visible, light white head.

Flavor: There are a lot of different flavors. I can pick up apple notes and maybe some apricots? The beer is pretty dry and lightly acidic.

Mouthfeel: light body, medium carbonation, pretty dry finish.

Overall Impression: Well, another awesome beer. Very nice aroma. And there are a lot of different flavors on the palate. Just a bit acidic and pretty dry finish. I guess this could be a good beer to get into sour beers as the sourness is not too overpowering in my opinion. Would I drink another one? Definitely! Get yourself a bottle if you can.

And since there were some dregs in the bottle, I just dumped them in a starter…

01/15/2012: The cultivation begins. Dumped the dregs into a sterile 100 mL starter (10°P) made with dried malt extract and some yeast nutrients.

01/28/2012: There is a sediment in the bottle. The starter has a very strong acidic aroma, smells like vinegar but in a good way. The liquid was quite sticky and thick. This might be what brewers call ropy or sick. Pediococcus produces a carbohydrate compound that leads to an elastic consistency. The consistency should get back normal in a few months [Cilurzo, p10]. I guess this could prove the existence of Pediococcus in the dregs?

3 Fonteinen Sediment after two weeks

01/30/2012: Plated the bugs from the sediment on some agar plates.

02/02/2012: Could observe just one kind of colony morphology on the Sabouraud agar plates. And it turned out to be a kind of bacteria, not yeasts. It might have been Acetobacter.

02/15/2012: Further colonies are visible on the agar plate. Some colonies are very small (< 1 mm diameter) and some look very similar to yeast colonies (white and round).

3 Fonteinen bugs on Sabouraud agar after 16 days

I took a white colony from the plate (from the destroyed colony in the right part of the picture) and looked at the bugs with my microscope. It looked as following:

3 Fonteinen white colony bugs

First of all, I have to apologize because I still do not know the exact magnification of the picture as my camera uses a different kind of magnification. I normally look at the cells with a 800x magnification and take a picture. But the magnification in the picture is lower than 800x. I am still working on a solution to get the exact magnification.

Lets get back to the picture. The cells are again a kind of yeast due to their size. But they look very different to normal Saccharomyces cerevisiae. S. cerevisiae are oval shaped cells in general. But here we have some kind of elongated cells. And I have no idea again what I got myself here… It could be a kind of Brettanomyces or other yeasts I guess. One fact that points to Brettanomyces is the time it took the microorganisms to form colonies. Brettanomyces is known to be a slow grower.

I learned from this experiment that it is possible to harvest some bugs from dregs of a sour beer. I have a very strong feeling that the bugs I have here are a kind of Brettanomyces. If that would be true, then using Sabouraud agar and some patience is good enough to get some Brettanomyces out of dregs.

Now I wait until the small colonies (the very small ones with a diameter < 1 mm) form bigger colonies and do another microscopy analysis.

As already mentioned in the last post in the pentade about agar plates, I will publish a summary post about the experiments and include some new results as well (like the ones above). But please be patient, my time is very limited at the moment. Anyway, I will try to publish at least one post a week in the future. Stay tuned!

#1 Agar plates (BFM, 3 Fonteinen, Girardin)

Eureka, after some recipe posting now a post that is right down my alley. I did some agar pouring, streaking and finally some microscopy analysis of different colonies. So this is the first post out of five about bugs. Today, pictures of bugs from commercial sour beers.

Plated bugs

01/30/2012: I plated the following bugs on Sabouraud plates: BFM La Torpille dregs, 3 Fonteinen dregs, Girardin dregs, Water Kefir liquid, Lactobacillus from a apple juice starter for a future Berliner Weisse, my Heidelberger Kellerbier yeast, #1056 from a starter for an IPA batch, Flanders Red, Kombucha liquid, #3787 Trappist yeast from 2011 and 2010 and I put the last plate outdoors for about six hours to collect some wild yeasts.

The plates were stored at room temperature for approximately three days until colonies appeared. The following pictures were taken after three days of inoculation.

I can already tell, that I did not collect any kind of wild yeast with my last plate, just some beautiful molds…

BFM La Torpille dregs:

I dumped some La Torpille dregs in a blended Belgian style beer (#39 Another Reason to Live) a while ago and poured myself a sample from the fermenter to taste and streak.

BFM bugs on Sabouraud agar

Well, I could observe just one kind of colonies: Off-white color, even, circular, glossy, convex, 2 mm diameter.

I guess it is normal brewers yeast due to the size, morphology and time the colonies needed to grow. If this is a yeast, then it must be #3522 Belgian Ardennes or/and #3787 Trappist High Gravity.

Microscopy picture BFM colony

And the microscopy picture above proves my guess. These colonies are cells of Saccaromyces cerevisiae. Unfortunately not Brettanomyces as hoped… Will use a different media next time to inhibit the growth of brewers yeasts.

3 Fonteinen dregs:

Isolated bugs from dregs of a 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze and streaked them as well to see what I got. The wort I used for isolating the bugs smelled very acidic and was kind of sticky. The stickiness might come from the work of Pediococcus.

3 Fonteinen bugs on Sabouraud agar

And I could observe just one kind of colonies again: Off-white, wavy, irregular, not glossy, 5 mm diameter. I was already aware that these might be something different than brewers yeast because they tend to grow in circular colonies and not wavy-ones.

Microscopy picture 3 Fonteinen colony

And the microscopy revealed that these colonies are in fact bacteria. Some sort of Bacillus. My guess is that these are maybe Acetobacter due to the acidic smell of the wort. I have to apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, it is quite tricky to get some pictures with my camera of bacteria due to their very small size. Well, no yeasts or Brettanomyces.

Girardin Gueuze dregs:

Girardin bugs on Sabouraud agar

And at last, some bugs from a Girardin Gueuze. The starter was sticky, like the 3 Fonteinen one as well, but the acidic note was subtle. Once again, just one kind of colonies:

Off-white color, even, circular, glossy, flat, 2 mm diameter. Darker than colonies from BFM dregs.

These colonies were circular again but had a different color than the ones from the BFM dregs (which were Saccaromyces cerevisiae). Maybe Brettanomyces this time?

Microscopy picture Girardin colony

And once again, these colonies are bacteria not yeasts. And they look very similar to the ones from the 3 Fonteinen colonies.

Although I could not detect any colonies of Brettanomyces so far, I learned, that I have to use a different kind of agar to prevent the growth of Saccaromyces and bacteria to give the Brettanomyces a chance. And I already have a different media in mind…

That’s all so far about the bugs from the dregs. Next post about agar plates will be about the water kefir culture and Lactobacillus. And the third one about some common yeasts, the fourth about the #3763 Roeselare Blend from Wyeast and the last one about Kombucha cultures. I can already tell that some of the results were quite unexpected and really interesting and to finish: spoiler alert: I could isolate some Brettanomyces!

Microscopy pictures of BFM La Torpille dregs Reloaded

After posting the first pictures of the bugs from the BFM’s La Torpille, I am still interested if some of the bugs there are Brettanomyces or not. I now took a sample of the bottom of the fermenter. There should be more cells than in the first post where I used a sample from the supernatant (= beer over the dregs). To make it easier for identification, I chose a more scientific approach and used my Neubauer’s counting chamber to have an idea about the size of the cells. So the width of the small squares in the pictures equals 50 µm.

Lets get right into the pictures:

Fig1: BFM Dregs Picture 1

There are some round yeast cells about 15 µm in diameter (little bit bigger than expected), and some longish cells with a length of about 20 µm (Fig. 1).

Fig2: BFM Dregs Picture 2

Another picture showing round smaller cells and longish cells. The longish cells in the middle seems to adhere together.

Fig3: BFM Dregs Picture 3

Figure 3 shows an overview of the different cells in the dregs


Fig4: BFM Dregs Picture 4

Fig5: BFM Dregs Picture 5

The last two pictures show similar cell structures (longish) as the other pictures before. The pictures are very similar to those from the first post.

All the pictures above were made with my microscope camera. I now tried to make some pictures with my smart phone and here they are in color. It seems that my smart phone has a microscope camera implemented…

Fig6: BFM Dregs Picture 6

Fig7: BFM Dregs Picture 7

It can be observed that the ends of the longish cells are not round. The cells seem to get wider at the ends. There is something else that gets me thinking. I could see yeast cells everywhere. They have a round morphology and a diameter of about 10 µm. The yeast cells should be the four round cells with a black ring around in the upper right corner of figure 7. But there are other cells which look somewhat different. They are smaller than the yeast cells. The size of these cells is around 5 µm. And they have a lemon-shaped form. And they are certainly not Lactobacillus (</= 1 µm) due to the size and morphology and not Pediococcus (< 1 µm). Maybe some other wild yeast strain(s) other maybe some form of Brettanomyces?

I will post these pictures in some homebrewer forums to get some feedback about the pictures. Maybe there is someone out there who could help me.

Bottle dregs harvest: Kellerbier Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg

I visited Heidelberg (Germany) in 2009 and attended a brewery tour at the Kulturbrauerei. I really liked their Kellerbier and I wanted to plan a clone brew. Inspired by the Kellerbier brewed by the Heidelberger Kulturbrauerei I wanted to make a similar beer myself.

Tube with Kellerbier yeast

First, I got myself a bottle of Kellerbier and isolated the yeast from the bottle. The brewer assured me that they use the primary yeast for bottling. After drinking the beer I transfered the dregs to a sterile sugar solution to have a kind of fermentation and then plated on agar. Unfortunately I can’t remember which kind of agar I used. I guess it was malt agar. Well, I got a acidic impression while examining the plates after growing colonies were visible. As I had a lot of work to do for my studies at that time I just forgot about the yeast and put the rest of the yeast in isotonic sodium chloride solution and stored it in my refrigerator.

Nearly a year later in the Spring of 2010, I found the tube and gave the yeast a second chance. This time, I used Ovomaltine a malt based beverage which is very well known in Switzerland as a starter media. I went with this kind of starter because I had no access to my normal brewing equipment. I used one teaspoon of Ovomaltine to 450 mL of hot water. I then transfered this DIY-yeast starter in three bottles. The yeast was added after the starter cooled down.

Yeast starter

I racked the sediments after six days to a new bottle and added 50 g of sucrose and 400 mL of sterile water. There was a nice sediment visible after several days and the starter had a nice yeasty smell. So far so good. Now the really funny part: the yeast went back in the refrigerator because I had no time for brewing… The yeast finally got to work in August 2010. I dumped the whole sediment of the bottle in wort from another batch and pitched it after a week to the first clone recipe of my version of Heidelberger Kellerbier. I have to thank all the little cells for staying with me all that time. I still have the yeast on a agar plate in my refrigerator waiting for the next batch…

I am now planning a second version of the beer and I now found out that the brewery does not make the beer anymore. I might have the only yeasts left for that beer now. I will post my recipe for the first attempt in the future and publish the tasting results as well. Stay tuned.