hist-brewing: Re: A Question to the Brewers

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Wed Feb 17 13:32:10 PST 1999

Eylat writes:
>This could be a sign of Brettanomyces infection.  Brett ususally is
>slow to form it's film.  Otherthan that I can't guess.
>Did you get any alcohol?
>J C Ronsen wrote:
>> The following question was published in the 1st Quarter '99 issue of Scum.
>> If anyone has an answer that I can publish in response to this, please sent
>> it to me.
>>> Question to the Brewers:
>> I made a ginger ale (not the soda pop) for the first time. My recipe said
>> it should start foaming in 24 hours. I didn't get any foam, I did get
>> bubbles. But what I did get, which was weird was, after sitting for a
>> month, was a paraffin type growth on the top of my brew.

What you have there is called a "pellicle" and my understanding is that
it is formed by any one of a number of various microbiota.  I want to
say "oxidative yeasts," but don't quote me on that.  Pellicles are are
common (and even desired) in Lambic breweries.  They help protect the
beer from oxidation during the long fermentations (up to 3 years in

I believe that Brettanomyces are but one of the pellicle-forming yeasts.
Jim Liddil has some photos of pellicles which have formed on his
pseudoLambics.  He pitches all kinds of cultures.  There's a pointer
to his website from mine (see my .sig).  See the Culture Photos page.

Whether or not your beer is spoiled by the microbiota that created
the pellicle, depends on:

1. which one it was (maybe you were blessed and got a very benign one),
2. if you mind that it has some "wild" character (horsey, barnyard,
hay-like, etc.).

If it is Brett, it can be very fruity at first and then turn horsey
after 6 or 9 months.  Brett can also tend to be relatively attenuative,
so your beer may get rather dry with time and may overcarbonate in
the bottle.


Al Korzonas, Palos Hills, IL
korz at brewinfo.org

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