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Cube Sour™

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Alright update. Put the water on earlier this morning, milled my grains and was mashing around 8am. Mash went to plan, I followed my usual process, bag out to mash out,heated sparge water in an urn and sparge the grains.  Topped up to 30L like I usually do pre-boil.

 

BUT I'M NOT BOILING!

 

Stupid me, just was running on autopilot. Transferred the wort to 20L cube (holds 22.5L hot) with lactic acid to bring down the pH and it is cooling now. By the time I get back from the shops with the IBS tablets, it might be down to mid 30s so I can pitch 5 capsules of lactobacillus plantarum. I'll test pH as well.

 

The gravity pre-souring was 1.030. A tad lower because I diluted and wasted so much wort, but it is still within style for a Berliner and should end up with an OG of around the same into the fermenter. Should get about 3.4% ABV after bottle carbonation.

 

Lesson for next time and the new players!

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Jools, 

That sounds like a well planned brewing experience right there..

Man I'm impressed with citra, just used it for the first time recently in a Pac Ale style, replacing the usual galaxy with Citra and Motuaeka, both fresh 2018 harvest from Yakima Valley. It tastes very similar to the Balter XPA. 

How is the cube souring experience going? 

My second one, using nectarines was not as balanced as my strawberry one, not sure why, but I'm keen to run another one very soon, and will hit it with cherries this time. 

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I think you posted that while I was typing that last post of mine🙂 🙂

What you could do is boil for longer after souring stage to concentrate the wort, but also,  you could use that spare 7 litres or so, maybe boil that to sanitise and concentrate it then store it somehow in the fridge and add it to your boil of the main amount. 

Personally I thought my first two BW, despite clocking in at about 4.2 to 4.3 % abv, could have been a tad stronger, i woudl have liked maybe 4.6 4.7. 

 

Edited by headmaster

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It's very easy to make mistakes when changing your usual method quite radically 

For my first cube sour I didnt make any mistakes

My second one I was in a big hurry, trying to squeeze it in and messed up a couple of things..

Managed to kill the lacto 1L starter I had prepared by pouring it into the cube when racking after mashout at 78c!

So then cooled and pitched two tablespoons of my homemade yoghurt straight into the cube at about 42c. It took 48 hours to hit 3.3ph rather than 24 hours when I used the 1L lacto starter.  (This one only reached 3.7ph after 24 hours)

Edited by headmaster

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Then I remember topping up the w34/70 starter with some additional wort with live lacto in it which basically meant I had to ditch that!

So I used some US05 to ferment the berliner, I do reckon that this was one of the reasons why not as good as the first one, which used k97 germal ale yeast. 

I know you may have moved on from that yeast Jools, but I can tell you that it was a full two thumbs up for this style, plus it is known to work very well in high acid worts, and is a recommended yeast for kettle sour type beers. So I bought another sachet of K97 and will be using again on my next cube sour. 

I had ditched my last k97 cake, as full of strawberry stuff and they say you shouldn't re-use yeast that has fermented sour beer, but I re-used that US05 that did the nectarine one, for the summer ale and it had a 2cm krausen 10 hours later, and was about 35 days old.  (I pitched about 300ml compacted slurry)

 

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3 hours ago, joolbag said:

By the time I get back from the shops with the IBS tablets, it might be down to mid 30s so I can pitch 5 capsules of lactobacillus plantarum. I'll test pH as well.

So the IBS are lacto plantarum? or do they have that plus more species? 

Plantarum is popular with commercial breweries as you only need about 30 to 32c to make it grow and produce that acid. But supposedly 40c and above will kill it. My yoghurt will be happy all the way to 50c however. Easier and less fuss to run 30 c though. 

Edited by headmaster

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8 hours ago, joolbag said:

BUT I'M NOT BOILING!

i bring mine to a boil before cubing, just briefly

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Hey headmaster.  Finally the house is quiet everyone is asleep so it is "Coopers Forum" time.

 

Yes, Inner Health Plus IBS Support is pure Lactobacilus plantarum.  I believe I first read about them being used for kettle souring on the Inner Sydney Brewers FB page so made a mental note.  The bottle says 20 billion live bacteria per capsule.

 

So cube souring is hopefully souring.  I didn't do an esky/tub cool of the Berliner Weisse cube today as I have been a bit busy brewing the Citra Saison with rain on the forecast.  I let my cube cool in the brewfridge to 32C and pitched 5 x capsules (no casings, but I heard they just dissolve quickly).  It took most of the day to cool and I only got around to pitching my lactose at 8.45pm.  Will test pH at 24hrs, but I won't be boiling until Sunday anyway.

 

On the note of pH, I mixed up my calibration solution with distilled water, got my meter ready then only then found out that it didn't  come with batteries!  So had to quickly duck out to Woolies to get 2 x LR44 button batteries.  I am not sure if I can trust a $12 FleaBay pH meter, but it calibrated at 6.86 then 4.01.  I then tested my wort and it was 4.30 (13mL 88% lactic acid like you used).  It's a smaller cube so perhaps I should've used less.  I think 4.30 is fine tho for my L. plantarum and they are hopefully chewing away and souring my wort.  Thanks for you tips on pH meters and calibration.

 

I toyed with the idea of saving that 7L of additional wort as I have a HPDE container that could fit it, but with double brewery (well 1.5) I didn't have time to faff around so just tipped it into the garden.  Won't be making that mistake next time.  I did manage to get my Citra Saison fully brewed, boiled and into a cube and hit my volumes, OG (well +.01) and efficiency is +2% of my recipe so I am happy.

 

The sour will be fermented with my Kolsch yeast that I have harvested from starter.  This will be the 3rd generation, and it is WLP029.  I heard this German Ale/Kolsch yeast is a good one for Berliner Weisse, and I have it on hand so will be using it.  I used it in an XPA recently (not through choice, but necessity as it was getting 4 months old and needed a refresh).  It is quality yeast and has a distinct flavour that is OK in an XPA, but complicates what is a very simple malt and hop bill.  Drowns out the single hop which is Riwaka.  I'll bring some to the next meeting for you to taste.

 

@Ben 10 I chose not to bring mine to boil because I was constrained by time with two brews on the same day and my daughter's swimming lesson at 10am.  I had the wort in the cube at 9.49am and somehow got her changed and to the pool in time!  I would have liked to boil it for 5-10min "just in case" but transferring at 78C should be OK.  We will see/taste!

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, joolbag said:

I heard this German Ale/Kolsch yeast is a good one for Berliner Weisse, and I have it on hand so will be using it

i have heard that too. myself i use a saison yeast, works better for me for where i want to ferment. my last cube sour swelled in the cube, it was actually fermenting. not infected with anything else, smell was as it should be.

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22 hours ago, joolbag said:

 

On the note of pH, I mixed up my calibration solution with distilled water, got my meter ready then only then found out that it didn't  come with batteries!  So had to quickly duck out to Woolies to get 2 x LR44 button batteries.  I am not sure if I can trust a $12 FleaBay pH meter, but it calibrated at 6.86 then 4.01.  I then tested my wort and it was 4.30 (13mL 88% lactic acid like you used).  It's a smaller cube so perhaps I should've used less.  I think 4.30 is fine tho for my L. plantarum and they are hopefully chewing away and souring my wort.  Thanks for you tips on pH meters and calibration.

 

Jools,

Sounds like it is all going to work to me. Yeah the amount of acid you add really should be calculated taking into account the buffering capacity of your wort, which my brewing spreadsheet does, brewcipher, and I expect some other software probably does this too. So that changes with water chemistry, so initial and added salts in the water, as well as the effect of adding malted barley as well. This will spit out a target PH, which for me with 13 ml was 4.5 from memory and the measurement was that. 

4.3 is just fine, and yeah you get to trust the cheap meter the more you play with it. It may even pay to calibrate the high end as well, at 9 somthing. 

Have recently discovered it goes haywire, and way out of cal, and hard to get back into cal, if you accidentally try and cal 6.86 when you have 4 in the lid. it appears broken with 0000 on the display, and you need to start over and bring it back into line. 

Just remember to cal every time, and make sure you rinse out the sensor, of the liquid being measured, and store in the ph4 solution, also I fill the lid, have a look at the reading, then dump and fill again, as the residual of the last buffer in there and last liquid on the sensor, can cause inaccuracy when calibrating. 

If you do get a wacky measurement that is not expected, cal again and double check. 

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On 11/27/2018 at 1:05 PM, headmaster said:

So now for the boil, easy job to pour that cube into the kettle topped up with some water that would boil off during the boil, (in my case 2.5 litres for a 60 min boil)

After 36hrs I measured the pH of my cube and it is sitting at 3.41.  Aroma is strange, bit like whey, and raw grain, but no off flavours or aroma that I can pick up.  Boil time!

 

I usually start with 30L at the start of boil and boil off about 5L in an hour.  If I top up my kettle with 7L of Sydney tap water, isn't this going to change the pH of my wort, i.e. raise it?  I can't find a calculator to work out how much it will raise the pH of my wort.  Sure some of the water that I add will boil off, increasing the concentration of H+ ions, but not everything that I add will be boiled off.

 

I'll just proceed as planned and adjust for future sours.  Perhaps need a larger cube, like 25L just for souring, then boil and cube into my smaller 20L cubes.

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Hi Jools,

It will raise the ph by not by a significant amount, still plenty of buffering provided by the wort. Adding 7L of sydney water would only raise the ph by approx 0.05 to 0.1 ph, so 3.41 to 3.51 according to my calcs using the grist I used. 

(BTW, I know a silly thing to say but make sure to use RO or distilled water when making up the calibration buffer solutions.)

I assume the boil went ok? I found the smell similar to what you described. The larger cube is a good idea, teh blue water ones from bunnings seem to be closer to 20L but the others I have used seem to fit 24 to 25 L hot. I have one like this that fits 25L hot but initially was closer to 24 https://www.thebrewshop.com.au/beer-making/brewing-equipment/plastic-containers/jerry-can-1720.html

I have my own sour challenges right now, made a Golden sour using the Wildflower house culture a few months back, mixed fermentation of brett, dupont, pedio, lacto and any number of other wild yeasts and bacteria in that culture. It was tasting wonderful for the first 10 weeks, but now has developed a smelly feet odour and taste.. Isovaleric acid I believe. This is often produced by pedio or maybe brett c, but is then later converted by the brett to some very pleasant fruit flavours. One of the reasons why they age these beers for 6, 12 18 months i guess. 

Have just bought 4kg of cherries and 6kg of passionfruit at flemington markets, these will feature in my next Berliners coming up 🙂

Edited by headmaster

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Wow that’s a lot of fruit!!! How much did the passionfruit cost per kg? I may have to get there one morning. It's not that far from me.

 

Yes have been using distilled water when making up my buffer solutions. Just bought another 20 x 4.01pH and 6.86pH from eBay so I won't be caught short.

My pH meter is interesting in that it doesn't say to store it in buffer solution. Rather, just rinse in distilled water, blot electrode dry and then put the cap back on. If the electrode dries out they say to soak it in distilled water for a few hours.

 

The smell I got during the boil was reminiscent of Chinese hot and sour soup that my grandma and mum used to cook when I was growing up. Post boil I only got an SG of 1.026, so this will be a very session able Berliner Weisse. I really enjoyed the process and keen to keep trying kettle sours. Something different and challenging to brew (like the rice lager with cereal mash. Challenging my processes).

 

The Brew Shop at Peakhurst has cubes in all shapes and sizes, so I'll find a 25L one, perhaps even bigger and that way I can do a sparge and then transfer the entire kettle to a cube for lacto. I have 25 capsules of IBS left so that's 5 more kettle sours. Mash Friday and boil Sunday seems to work well.

 

Oh, one thing about the boil. It takes AGES to get to a boil since the wort goes into kettle at 32C. It took over an hour to start boiling, and I use LPG gas. Was blowing hard from the South today, which didn't help (until I moved the set up into the shed).

 

Planning to ferment this brew after my Citra Saison is done. Ferment for a week, then onto 1.5kg frozen raspberries for another week.  Do you rack into secondary or just throw the fruit in?

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i throw the fruit in post fermentation. i will be doing so tomorrow with my davidson plum jam

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13 hours ago, joolbag said:

Wow that’s a lot of fruit!!! How much did the passionfruit cost per kg? I may have to get there one morning. It's not that far from me.

 

Yes have been using distilled water when making up my buffer solutions. Just bought another 20 x 4.01pH and 6.86pH from eBay so I won't be caught short.

My pH meter is interesting in that it doesn't say to store it in buffer solution. Rather, just rinse in distilled water, blot electrode dry and then put the cap back on. If the electrode dries out they say to soak it in distilled water for a few hours.

 

The smell I got during the boil was reminiscent of Chinese hot and sour soup that my grandma and mum used to cook when I was growing up. Post boil I only got an SG of 1.026, so this will be a very session able Berliner Weisse. I really enjoyed the process and keen to keep trying kettle sours. Something different and challenging to brew (like the rice lager with cereal mash. Challenging my processes).

 

The Brew Shop at Peakhurst has cubes in all shapes and sizes, so I'll find a 25L one, perhaps even bigger and that way I can do a sparge and then transfer the entire kettle to a cube for lacto. I have 25 capsules of IBS left so that's 5 more kettle sours. Mash Friday and boil Sunday seems to work well.

 

Oh, one thing about the boil. It takes AGES to get to a boil since the wort goes into kettle at 32C. It took over an hour to start boiling, and I use LPG gas. Was blowing hard from the South today, which didn't help (until I moved the set up into the shed).

 

Planning to ferment this brew after my Citra Saison is done. Ferment for a week, then onto 1.5kg frozen raspberries for another week.  Do you rack into secondary or just throw the fruit in?

Re the ph meter, I would still store it with ph4 in the cap, as the sensor can become sluggish (and damaged) if it dries out, and who wants to wait for hours for it to start working again....

The ph4 should prevent bacteria growing in the cap as sub 4.5 tends to offer this protection. 

Sometimes if I am not going to be using for a while, I will also seal the cap by wrapping the seam in a bit of invisible tape (comes off easily, you know the office stuff) and the solution in the cap doesn't dry out.  I also bought bulk buffers from ebay, helps to know you have plenty to burn through. That said I do keep the solutions in glass jars and re-use, over a couple of months or more. 

I get it re- the boil time, mine was a bit hotter at about 42, took about half an hour but that was using over 4kw of elecricity with my herms and in kettle element going at the same time. 

That was a weird southerly yesterday, was out surfing in that at Manly at 5:45am 🙂

I would try that bigger cube, as the OG suggests this will be a very light drinking beer, but I think should still be very tasty with the berries. 

With adding the fruit, as you have planned, best to add towards the end of fermentation to avoid the CO2 from the main ferment scrubbing out valuable fruit aromas and flavours. 

With my first berliner I added at end of ferment 3kg of strawberry puree, that I had pasteurised (by heating to 78c then blitzing with stick blender, best not to do this with strawbs as you can release tannins that can result in astringency, maybe mashing with potato masher better)

I added those to primary and the k97 yeast cake decided to go nuts on that and next thing I knew I had a lid lifter.. heaps of oink coloured foam in the coopers FV and was coming out the sides. 

Managed to slow that down by dropping to about 10c... then warming back up to finish. Had to whip the foam down with a whisk.. 

So for the next one, the nectarine, I racked onto the some 4kg of nectarines and the fermentation of teh fruit was a lot less violent, only a 2cm krausen formed I think. 

With less raspberries you would probably be fine dropping those in to primary, but if you want to harvest and re-use the yeast, I would not do it that way. 

The passionfruits were $20 for the box, with some 6kg in there, but once I get the pulp out I expect less that 2kg, but that would be heaps I guess, have not researched amounts of passionfruit needed for such a beer. 

Cherries were $10 for a 2kg box of some quite nice ones, bought two boxes. 

After doing the strawberry one, I did hear on the Sour Hour podcast that strawberries are notoriously difficult to make a good beer from, as they can result in some weird off flavours etc, especially if you are not careful with O2 in the process.  This one I made though was a cracker, much better than the nectarine. If you are at the feb meeting I will have the last bottle of it there, (in a 750 champagne bottle) so maybe you'd like to taste it there.  can bring a nectarine one as well. 

 

 

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I didn’t realise that the calibration solutions could be kept in a glass jar and re-used over time.  So they buffer and resist any changes in pH despite being exposed to the atmosphere?

 

Thanks for the tips on fruit.  Looking forward to fermenting and trying this beer and tweaking.  Can’t wait to do my next cube sour!  So many options at the moment with fruit being in season and cheap.  Have seen nectarines and peaches at a good price recently, and mangoes too.

 

I will be at that Feb meeting so look forward to trying that strawberry and the nectarine sour.  I’ll bring my XPA and my Rye IPA.  My Citra saison might be ready, but a little green.  I have a gose from last year too that I have put aside and trying not to drink so I can share it around.

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The more expensive way to obtain buffers is in liquid form, and they come in amounts that would certainly imply multiple uses, but not sure how long they remain 'good' for. I do remember comparing a stale one with a fresh one and I think they differed by 0.1 ph from memory. 

Yeah now is the time to get some of that fruit! Good season to drink these types of beer as well. 

You can always go the frozen berry route at other times, or buy fruit now, process into pasteurised puree and freeze if you have the freezer space and SWMBO is ok with that.. 

Apricots and Raspberries seem to provide the best results according to Jay from the Rare Barrel in the USA, from his podcast from memory.  White peaches have also been raved about 🙂

Good to hear you will be at the meeting and bring thing those beverages. I also have a Citra + Motueka based Pacific Ale, which I can bring. 

Did you sour the Gose in any way? 

 

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Those solutions aren't intended for reuse. At least not the storage ones anyway. Having said that, on the Hanna site it says they should be discarded 6 months after opening as they lose their effectiveness. 

I have to order some calibration solutions soon. I had a play around earlier with the storage solution in the cap and the meter recognised it as the 4.01 calibration solution. So I at least have something in the meantime.

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4 hours ago, headmaster said:

have not researched amounts of passionfruit needed for such a beer. 

i used a 750mL takeaway container. if you smash the pulp quickly with a stick blender you can get the pulp off the seeds.

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Thanks Ben for that, good info. Was wondering what to do about the seeds as well. 

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add a splash of water too before you blitz

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why are you guys using lactic acid? 

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7 minutes ago, Ben 10 said:

why are you guys using lactic acid? 

It is to pre-acidify the wort to around 4.5, to ward off things like botulism and other nasty bacteria. These nasties cant grow at or below about 4.6. 

Leaving 23 litres of sugary wort at 40c for a day or three could be quite risky as some of the bad bacteria would find that to be a good holiday destination! 😀

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