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Thread: Kettle Souring with Lactic Acid

  1. #1
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    Kettle Souring with Lactic Acid

    Does anyone have any practical guidelines to dosing for kettle soured beer with Lactic Acid? Or do I dose until pH is where I want it? For a 10bbl batch with VERY alkaline water, 229 Total Alkalinity ppm.
    Thanks!


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  2. #2
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    At one brewery I worked at we found success by filling up a 1000ml beaker and dosing small amounts of lactic acid with a serological pipette. The beaker itself would be on a stirplate and a pH meter would be submerged. When we found the pH we wanted We would simply scale up and then dose the brite tank. The biggest draw back to this method is that we would perform this after the brite tank was full (so that we would have a total volume to work with) and the lactic acid was prone to floating around towards the bottom. This would work much better if a known volume was in the fermenter and the lactic was dosed in-line, we just didn't know how much loss we might have on the batch. However, if you have an estimate of loss you could always aim low on mixing in-line and make a small adjustment as needed in the brite...?

  3. #3
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    I like your idea but we’re hoping to do a combination of lactobacillus and lactic acid (maybe). We found out the proper pitch for lactobacillus kettle souring is $650 for the batch we want to do. So thinking about alternatives.
    Thanks for your thoughts!


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by samwhois View Post
    We found out the proper pitch for lactobacillus kettle souring is $650 for the batch we want to do. So thinking about alternatives.
    White Labs? I kettled soured a no boil Berliner weisse recently with Lallemand sour brew dry lactose culture. Worked awesome. Something like 10gm/HL. Lactobacillus plantarum. I dropped wort pH to about 4.4 (lactic acid) to help prevent other unwanted organisms from creating isovaleric or butyric acids, although 4 pH is ideal to prevent those organisms. I would forgo adding the lactic acid in the future though as the pH dropped quite quickly anyhow and the exposure time would be low. Blanketed the kettle with co2 for more insurance. I think there may be more of a “proper” or “rounded” sourness with less lactic acid. Still I was quite happy with the results. Mine came out to 3.23 pH at just under 48 hours. Titration of total acidity would be a better method for consistency or exacting results, but pH is a good indicator of the character you can expect.

  5. #5
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    Good to know. Thanks for the information. I’ll look into that Lallemand culture


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  6. #6
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    not sure where you are at, but big tubs of "natural" yogurt work fine. there's an old thread here about using yogurts and probiotics. greek yogurt was the preferred kind if i remember correctly. and either non-flavored or something light like vanilla, etc. a few guys were talking about how much yogurt per barrel.

    your other option is to build up a starter of lacto. there's a good guide on the milk the funk website about it.

    i dont doubt that lallemand works well, but to me they've always been way expensive.

    one brewer swears by raw wheat. says the taste cant be beat. not sure i believe him. and im not brave enough to try.

  7. #7
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    I’ve heard about using natural yogurt. I’ll look into this blog your talking about. I would think the flavor might be a bit unpredictable.
    Thanks for the info!


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by samwhois View Post
    I’ve heard about using natural yogurt. I’ll look into this blog your talking about. I would think the flavor might be a bit unpredictable.
    Just FYI, yogurts typically use Lacto acidophilus or L. casei with some potentially using L. plantarum (or possibly even a mixed culture). The favorite for kettle sours tends to be L. plantarum. Quick souring to avoid unwanted organisms. These are all classified as homofermtative and primarily produce lactic acid. The strains L. brevis, L. delbruckii and L. buckneri are all homofermentative and produce ethanol, carbon dioxide and acetic acid. Typically they are used as post kettle additions.

    I avoided the yogurt due to unpredictability of strains and unknown pitch rates. Probiotics usually contain the L. plantarum strain but still pitch rates are unknown. Cost may be higher for a pure culture from any of the suppliers, but a wasted batch due to isovaleric or butyric acids was not worth the risk to me personally. If you go with the yogurt or probiotics leave some feedback so we know how it works out!

  9. #9
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    Will keep you posted for sure. Much thanks for the info. I’m going to use a pure culture. Might just shoot for a nice tangy clean beer with Lactic Acid. Planning on using 10-15% acid malt in the grist as well and fermenting with apricot purée. I’d like to use a Belgian Wit yeast or something interesting like WL Saison III


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  10. #10
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    lately we sour with goodbelly probiotics, which is plantarum. i've also used other strains in dry form bought as probiotic supplements from health food stores. all were fine. all had cell counts on the bottle, as does goodbelly. we especially like the goodbelly little shots as they have either 20b or 50b per shot.

    as for butyric and isovalyric that's simply a question of controlling the ph and/or temp to reduce the likelihood. i dont recall but i think those arent from the actual lactic bacteria. i could be mistaken.

    but there are tons of folks with tons of brews using probiotics or yogurts. i mean, yogurt makers want their cultures controlled and reliable too, right? when i say "natural" i mean live culture yogurts at the grocery store, not bought from a hippie in the back of his van at a phish show.

    for us, when we are short on time we use plantarum and have to deoxygenate, keep it covered, keep on eye on it to avoid acetic. with the homo strains you dont have that. a homo strain gets us to 3.3 or so within 48, sometimes 72 hours. no risk of acetic. just needs an extra day or two. im working out a way to make a big starter to cut that down to 24-36 hours.

    but whatever you decide, you really really should check out milk the funk. tons of good info. lacto, brett, mixed cultures, etc.

  11. #11
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    Dang! I just got a trustafarian hook up at the last Yonder Mountain concert I went to. He said he had jugs of probiotics in his VW bus that would rock my world. Hah!

    But really, thanks for the great information! I’m a little concerned about our pH as our water is VERY alkaline. Do you happen to know your Total Alkalinity? Ours is 229.

    I will look into these probiotics and milk the funk. I’ve been blown away by all the great information people haven given me! I want this tart brew to be great. I feel like a lot of kettle sours miss the mark. Some have a great tangy flavor and others have this rancid, putrid, vomit thing going on. I just want to get all the information I can to not have to dump 10bbl of beer. Especially considering this will be an introductory sour for people in my town.

    Thanks again!


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  12. #12
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    We have had luck skipping pre-acidification and using Omega Lacto blend. For 15-20bbl batches we get a small pitch from them $80 shipped I think. We then prop it up in a 5 gallon bucket overnight. Beats having to pay for the direct pitchable amount. This generally gets the PH down to 3.2-3.3 in 48 hours so we tend to start souring Friday for a brew Monday. If you have more time to build up the pitch or the money to throw at a larger pitch it can get you where you need to go QUICK. We used a high dose leftover from a 20bbl brew in a pilot system 1bbl brew - got to 3.3ph in about 12 hours.


    Brian

  13. #13
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    Good to know. I was wondering what Omega charges. A five gallon starter is easy enough too.

    Thanks for the info


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by brain medicine View Post
    lately we sour with goodbelly probiotics, which is plantarum. i've also used other strains in dry form bought as probiotic supplements from health food stores. all were fine. all had cell counts on the bottle, as does goodbelly. we especially like the goodbelly little shots as they have either 20b or 50b per shot.

    as for butyric and isovalyric that's simply a question of controlling the ph and/or temp to reduce the likelihood. i dont recall but i think those arent from the actual lactic bacteria. i could be mistaken.

    but there are tons of folks with tons of brews using probiotics or yogurts. i mean, yogurt makers want their cultures controlled and reliable too, right? when i say "natural" i mean live culture yogurts at the grocery store, not bought from a hippie in the back of his van at a phish show.

    for us, when we are short on time we use plantarum and have to deoxygenate, keep it covered, keep on eye on it to avoid acetic. with the homo strains you dont have that. a homo strain gets us to 3.3 or so within 48, sometimes 72 hours. no risk of acetic. just needs an extra day or two. im working out a way to make a big starter to cut that down to 24-36 hours.

    but whatever you decide, you really really should check out milk the funk. tons of good info. lacto, brett, mixed cultures, etc.
    Agreed on these points, and would be willing to give it a shot if I could find fresh Goodbelly over here for a one off. The recommend a shelf life is two weeks on the website. If using yogurt, there are also other things you are adding to the brew such as lactose and fats that you are not adding with a pure culture. I believe goodbelly is a juice base, so I would be more comfortable there. I am sure the viability will diminish over time (just as the purchased pitches), however the Lallemand culture has kept well over two weeks for my experience. Goodbelly may due the same. For me the cost was not an issue on the Lallemand and at 10gm per BBL I could easily afford the added piece of mind. I could also afford to double the pitch rate if needed to reduce the time, but I saw what you mention of 3.3 in about 46hrs which was sufficient for my 10bbl batch. Of course the probiotics makers want consistency and purity, however they are not specifically making these to be used in beer production. It could vary easily contain small amounts of other unwanted bacteria (or other strains) that do not pose an issue for these products but could when adding and aging longer in our wort. Even those dedicated to making pure cultures for our industry can have major issues (look at Left Hand v White Labs).

    You are right that the Isovaleric and Butyric come from other bacteria and the acetic from presence of oxygen. You significantly reduce the risk if dropping the pH to 4 and blanketing/bubbling co2 or n2. A diminished viability or other components could however increase the risk of other organisms potential. I have read a few threads of people who have gotten a "vegetable smell" from goodbelly or the like, but that could be from other issues along the way. I'm not hating on it in anyway, just pointing out the risk/reward factors I saw. At 10, 15 or 20BBL batches I want repeatability and consistency so that is why I opted to spend a bit more myself. Beer came out extremely nice. Not sure I'd see a real significant cost savings by switching.

  15. #15
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    I recently brewed a KS (modified KS actually, soured in a purged fermentor then pushed back to the kettle with CO2) using a crushed grain starter as outlined in the American Sour book. I was very happy with the results...hit our target TA overnight and produced a nice clean sourness. The beer did have a vegetal aroma and flavor in the finish that drove me nuts. Customers didn't seem to be bothered too much, but it wrecked the clean finish I was hoping for.

    I'm attributing the vegetal notes to DMS...the grist bill was mostly Pilsner malt and I understand SMM to DMS conversion is retarded at lower pH. My next sour batch will stay in the kettle, feature Pale Ale malt to lower SMM and use Lallamand's dried lactic starter...cheap, pure and convenient...what's not to like?
    Clarke Pelz
    Cynosure Brewing

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