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Bland sour/mixed fermentation (WLP655) - what to do?

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Oakers

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About 15 months ago I brewed my first solo attempt at a sour. I had a pack of WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1 that was just out of date. I made a starter to increase the cell count. The recipe was 50/50 pale malt and pilsner lightly hopped, mashed at 68. I pitched the WLP655 starter and also US05 and let it go....about 9 months later i had a taste. A bit bland and no sourness. So i added 0.5 kg rhubarb hoping that would add some interest. Fast forward to now, after 15 months since initial pitch, and it is still a bit bland. It has a nice funkiness but no sourness. I wonder if the balance of the WLP655 got out of whack due to age and the starter? So i'm looking for suggestions....should I chuck in some fruit (say a kilo of raspberries?) Can i get it soured my adding more yeast at the same time?....any suggestions welcome. I really don't want to dump it and i guess that once carbonated it would be ok for summer but i want something more interesting.
 

huez

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I didn't think making a starter with a blended culture was advised as it throws the blend out. You might have ended up with a decent amount of brett and sacch but not much lacto or pedio. If there was lacto, it probably got knocked out by the hops.
How many litres do you have? Raspberries are a good choice, about to use some tomorrow myself. You have invested a lot of time already, is it worth saving, enjoy as is or dump?
 

hirschb

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It's a bit hard to give advice without knowing what the base recipe was.
If you have access to commercially available mixed culture beers, it's typically a good idea to throw some dregs into underperforming sours (most people correct for this at the 3-6 month mark, not 15). Jolly Pumpkin, most Belgian Lambic/Gueuze, Jester King, Allagash, Crooked Stave, etc... are good choices.
Alternately, I'd make another aggressively funky sour/funky beer to blend with the boring beer. I typically have ~10 carboys with different base beers and yeast/microbe blends aging at any given time. I taste them ~ every 6 months, and then blend when ready.
If you're not looking to make more sour beer, adding fruit with some lacto capsules to the current might be the way to go. Make sure to read this first: http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Soured_Fruit_Beer
 

manticle

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In my experience of funky/sour brewing, these beers have the advantage of time in order to get the balance where you want. If you're missing sourness, add a source of sourness. If you're missing complexity, add oak or fruit or citrus zest or something in line with your expectation. Then leave until it tastes how you picture it should.
 

Oakers

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Thanks. I think i'll add some dregs (an excuse to buy and drink some sour beer) and then maybe add fruit later.
 

hirschb

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Ah, I missed your statement about using 50/50 pale/pilsner and few hops.
In the future, leave out the US-05. This is the likely culprit for little/no sour/funk.
 

thumbsucker

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I would just bottle it and move on. So it did not turn out perfect so what its your first attempt. I am on my 10th sour attempt and I still have not gotten it right but I got some interesting and even nice beer in the process.

You could add X + Y + Z to in the hope of getting it perfect. All the time chasing your tale and dumping time & money into it with no guarantee that you will ever get it right.

Better to take the lesson learned and start again on a new batch.
 
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shacked

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I have 4 different mixed culture carboys on the go. Some of them on their third repitch. Only one of them uses WLP655 alone (sour porter); the rest are a combo of lab bugs (WLP655 and Rosealare), with lab brett cultures (Brux and C) plus stepped up dregs from commercial sour beer [my favorite so far is fantome + brux + T58]. I’ve found the lab cultures develop sourness really slowly and develop sourness more quickly when repitched. You might find more sour results next time around.

As for this batch I would blend it or bottle it.

Maybe brew some more base beer, bottle half of this batch and top up? Leave that for 6 months and see how the culture develops. You could also add some dregs.
 

hoppy2B

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I bought a 1 pint bottle of New Belgium Brewery's 'La Folie' sour ale yesterday. It cost me $23.99. :eek:

I have read in an online article that New Belgium Brewery first ferment with a sacc yeast, then transfer to barrels and add microbes. That is meant to prevent autolysis of the yeast and the resulting off flavours.

The OP needs to take a gravity reading to determine whether there remains any potential food for microbes to consume and produce lactic acid. If that is the case, then, adding a culture may be useful.
 

shacked

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I bought a 1 pint bottle of New Belgium Brewery's 'La Folie' sour ale yesterday. It cost me $23.99. :eek:

I have read in an online article that New Belgium Brewery first ferment with a sacc yeast, then transfer to barrels and add microbes. That is meant to prevent autolysis of the yeast and the resulting off flavours.

The OP needs to take a gravity reading to determine whether there remains any potential food for microbes to consume and produce lactic acid. If that is the case, then, adding a culture may be useful.
From what I understand, I’m not sure the sacc primary is an attempt to prevent autolysis. Most strains of Brett will happily snack on dead yeast. It’s more likely as a way of controlling the acid balance in the final beer. Also certain strains of sacc can throw off esters and phenols that interact with the bacteria and brett to create cool flavors in the finished beer.
 

hoppy2B

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It’s more likely as a way of controlling the acid balance in the final beer.
Yeah that is what I took from the above mentioned article as well. New Belgium Brewery like to make sure they hit their correct FG before transferring to barrels. But the article does also mention that it is meant to prevent autolysis. Remember that they leave it in the barrel for 3 years.

Lactic acid bacteria are capable of digesting cellulose. I remember an episode of Landline years ago where a company were producing lactic acid in tanks from straw. If there is any undigested starch in his brew, Oakers could add lactic acid bacteria to get some acidity.

Country Brewer sell cultures that might be worth giving a try: https://www.countrybrewer.com.au/products/MA11-(Mesophilic-Culture)-%2d-50L.html
 

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