hist-brewing: Newbie Questions

Robert P Davis scabrewer at juno.com
Thu Jun 15 15:51:34 PDT 2000

On Tue, 13 Jun 2000 21:26:44 EDT CBlackwill at aol.com writes:
>In a message dated 6/13/00 6:15:45 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
>scabrewer at juno.com writes:
>> In some beer styles (such as lambics), the fruit is added directly
>>  (without pasteurization) to finished, green beer, and the wild 
>yeasts and
>>  other microorganisms present on the fruit incite a secondary
>>  fermentation.  If you've ever had a lambic, you know that, besides 
>>  yeast, there is also such stuff as lactobacillus, which adds to 
>>  beers' sour taste.
>It was always my understanding that the "lambic" yeast (brettanomyces 
>bruxellensis?) which sours the beer was omnipresent in the brewhouse, 
>and was 
>not dependent upon wild yeast on the fruit to begin the secondary 
>fermentation (malolactic?).  I understood that it was merely the 
>infusion of 
>unfermented fruit sugars which re-activated the dormant yeast already 
>present.  Having never brewed a lambic at home, I am not an expert.  
>If you 
>could confirm/disprove this, the information would be appreciated, 
>since I do 
>plan to try to brew one next month.

Note: The following information is from memory, and may therefore be
faulty!  I shall attempt to footnote it as soon as I unpack my texts.  

Brettanomyces is used by many brewers to "force" the flavors described
above.  In reality, traditional Belgian lambics are brewed entirely by
exposing the bitter wort to the environment, whereupon microbes fall in
on the night breeze and begin fermentation.  We in the U.S. cannot do
this, as the airborne microbes which make the lambic style are only found
in that one 20 square mile region of Belgium.  Here, we can either
control the flavors with Brettanomyces and pedioccocus strains
commercially available, or let our indigenous wild organisms do the work.
 Personally, I kind of like the uncertainty of allowing indigenous
microbes flailing about at will in a beer; makes be feel like a "real"
spontaneous-fermentation brewer.  But to each his own.

Also, you are correct in that the fruit sugars encourage a secondary



Real World: Robert P. Davis, Brewer& Historian.
SCA: Robert fitz Thomas, Scribe &  Man-at-Arms.
My Motto: Stercus, stercus, stercus, moriturus sum!

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