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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * September 29, 2003 * Lactobacillus? < Previous Next >

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Donnie Howard (64.63.209.195)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 09:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have made about 20 extract w/specialty grain and partial mash batches. I have a recurring problem of a tartness showing up in batches here and there. The tartness has been in two honey wheats, one honey ale, and a hefeweizen. I am trying to discern if this is a lacto infection.

At what point in the process would lacto infections show up? These taste tart coming out of the primary.

Would a lacto infection have any visual signs? These beers are all clear with normal attenuation. Nothing growing, no cloudiness. Once it is there, it doesn't go away or get any worse with aging. Just stays the same.

If it is lacto, why would it only show up here and there. I use the same equipment and procedures on all of my beers, and it has never affected a dark beer. I have also successfully made other light beers.

I have ruled out temperature, as I fermented my hefe in a temp controlled environment, and it still came out with the same funky tart flavor.

Is there ANYTHING else that could cause a tart flavor? I do full boils, but could something in my tap water be reacting with my StarSan left in the fermenters. I don't know what to do!?!?
 

Brandon Dachel (63.238.222.190)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> At what point in the process would lacto
> infections show up?

Lacto is generally regarded as a beer spoiler so often it shows up in finished beer. It does however show up in mashing and is utilized for a sour mash.

> Would a lacto infection have any visual signs?

My experience (intentionally) is that it appears similar to yeast colonies. However the smell (sour beer) is unmistakable.

> Once it is there, it doesn't go away or get any
> worse with aging.

Without pastuerizing lacto will continue to work. This pretty much rules it out.

> Is there ANYTHING else that could cause a tart
> flavor?

Wheat. Yeast, particularly strains that produce some phenols. Additionally I suppose it could be chlorine/chloramine in your water forming chorlophenols that can produce an 'off' flavor.
Or it may just be the way the beer is supposed to taste.
 

Jim Layton (67.202.29.87)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Its not the StarSan.

I've made a few beers with an intentional lactic infection but never had an accidental one. The lactobacillus delbruekii that I've used is pretty slow, taking several months to reach its full degree of sourness. Other, wild strains probably grow much faster. But there's no reason to think that a lactic bug would favor your light beers over your dark beers.

A HB club friend had a similar problem. We traced it down to his over-use of lactic acid in the mash and sparge water.

Its tough to guess what your problem is from where I sit but here goes: old, stale malt extract with that famous "twang".
 

Donnie Howard (65.164.3.3)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wheat seems to be a common thread in three of the four beers, but I don't remember any commercial wheat beers tasting quite like this. It doesn't make the beer undrinkable, but it's not good. I may go buy a few commercial wheats today to compare to my hefe.

I am glad to hear that lacto would take a while to show up and would have visual signs! That rules out an infection in my brewhouse. Now I just have to figure exactly what it is!

Well, Jim, it is certainly a possibility, but I don't think this is the extract twang. If it was, I would think it would show up in my other beers.

Generally speaking, I only use fresh LME from nitrogen drums or DME. I have never used canned LME, and I also do full boils. If this flavor is what extract twang tastes like, no one would start homebrewing.
 

Andrew Bales (199.64.0.252)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd have to maybe vote for the honey and then the yeast strain. Honey is really drying for beer and very acidic, and combined with a strong liquid extract twang (if old) it would be overwhelming. Honey works well in sweet low hopped beers to dry them out and acidify them. Dark honey even more so. Hefes can taste quite tart from the yeast, hence they only get 11-15 ibus (1oz or less hops), it is the yeast that is really used to balance out the malt in this 1.055 beer, not hops. If you basic pale ales are fine, and are fine still when you brew them next its your recipes probably working by design.

Use DME with honey and watch your hop rates and yeast selections. Wy3333 (sharp & tart wheat yeast) with DWE and 1# light honey is very good with a small amount of bittering hops. That is a tart summer beer as it should be. Add some 88% lactic at bottling and you will have a clean lactic sharp beer. Good, dry, clean and sour. Some tuity fruity dry package yeast work for this.

Pick a Wy1728 (or a malty yeast like Irish) to bring out the sweetness of the honey if that is what you are after. Pick out a tart yeast or dry (non-malty)yeast for summer beers. Don't forget that most honey beers aiming for honey tastes are some of the cleanest, high crystal malt content for the real sweetness and higher finals, low hopped, malty yeast strain beers. Few dry yeasts will work with this.
 

Paul Hayslett (64.252.35.69)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 01:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What were the bees munching on? Depending on when during the boil you added the honey, you may be getting flavors from that. There was a thread a week or so ago where Skotrat warned against using orange blossom honey in a B-52; said it came out horrible. Try a different honey.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 01:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't think honey is the culprit. It certainly results in a dry finish but I wouldn't call that sour. There is a slight sourness to wheat beers, however, which a few people don't like. That may be what you are tasting. Moreover, most of the yeast strains specifically intended for wheat beers can be described as somewhat phenolic. You didn't mention what strains you used, but my educated guess is that what you are describing is a combination of the wheat and the yeast. I suspect you are among those who are not overly fond of wheat beers. Compare your beers to some of the commercial wheat beers, both German and American. Do you like the commercial examples any better than your own?
 

Donnie Howard (65.164.3.3)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 01:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I've got to try some more commercial types. What would you suggest? I am going to buy a few. Nothing too far out of the norm, I live in GA. I've tried Sam Adams Weiss beer, SN Wheat Ale, Harpoon UFO and a hefe in a pub (don't remember what, though). I don't know that any of those are great examples of the style, although I am pretty sure they didn't have quite this flavor.

-The first beer was Wheat LME, Light LME, crystal malt, and honey with WLP008 East Coast.
-The second was Wheat LME, Light DME, crystal, and honey with Nottingham.
-The third was regular Light LME with honey and Nottingham (no wheat).
-Finally, the hefe was wheat LME, a little crystal, and White Labs Hefe yeast (no honey)

There is no one particular thing that ties all of these together, other than the fact I used LME. I once made a honey beer with DME that was fine, but I've also made a ten or twelve batches of other beers with LME that were just fine.

I wouldn't exactly call this flavor subtle. It can be pretty overwhelming, but it's not so bad that you can't get it down. I will see this afternoon when I compare it to the commercial examples.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 02:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Try brewing a wheat beer with wheat DME rather than liquid extract. You could be describing "extract tang," which is more pronounced in lighter styles such as wheat beers.

I don't want to say categorically that your beer isn't infected, but I strongly believe many homebrewers are quick to blame infection when the cause of off flavors is elsewhere.
 

Denny Conn (140.211.82.4)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"I strongly believe many homebrewers are quick to blame infection when the cause of off flavors is elsewhere"...AMEN, Brother Bill! There is so much literature that drills the possibility of infection into new brewers that when anything doesn't turn out as they expect, they assume it's infected. A classic case was on rcb a year or so ago. A guy had heard many people talking about how great Belgian beers were, so he decided to brew one. He was positive that it was infected and railed about it while we helped him try to diagnose his problem. Turned out that it was jutt fine, but he'd never had a Belgian beer and had no idea that it wouldn't taste like what he was accustomed to drinking! ;)
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.86.151)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

anyone else notice the infection wagon rolling right now?? Seems infections are showing up everywhere. If you guys could see my brewing habits you'd freak. I am an admitted brew slob. I don't put alot of stress on sanitary conditions. I simply make sure things are clean and brew on. Never had an infection yet (that I know of) I'll tell you about my bottling habits next time one of those infections show up. I think Bill is right, most so called infections are not infections at all. You have to work at it to infect your beer.
 

Donnie Howard (65.164.3.3)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 08:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree guys. I don't really think this is an infection, but when you utter the words "tart" or "sour", most everyone answers that it must be a lacto infection. I don't think it is, but I am not convinced of what else it could be.

The LME twang thing makes some sense, but I think this flavor is too strong to be that. I wish I knew a beer judge who could taste it and tell me, but I don't! As I said, if extract twang tasted like this, I don't think anyone would ever homebrew, cause this is one strong flavor.

Thanks for the replies so far!

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