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Source for lactic acid bacteria

Planning on brewing a Berliner Weiss this weekend, and my LHBS doesn’t carry lactic bacteria cultures (told me I was the first person to ask for one in the 15 years he’s been in business). I don’t want to do the sour mash thing, and I’ve heard mixed reviews on the use of yogurt to get the bacteria. Does anyone have some advice on a good method for getting the culture? At this point, I’m leaning towards just tossing a handful of grain into half the wort and letting it grow whatever will grow, but if anyone has a suggestion for something more controlled I’d like to hear it.

you’re looking for lactobacillus, which is crawling all over most grain. To your point, the method you discuss is a bit more variable as I understand it. Why not just order it online? Grab a 30-day amazon prime for free and I’m sure you can find it on there and have it in 2 days.

I haven’t brewed a BW yet, but I would probably lean toward a purchased culture of lacto, as when growing your own you can get a lot of bugs, not just lacto. Google up enterobacter. Yum.

Doubt Amazon ships 2 day to Finland. :lol: Not sure where to get a controlled strain, can’t think of any other semi-common use for it.

They do, but only some things and I am almost certain that live cultures would not be on that list.

I actually haven’t found any US-based homebrew suppliers that ship to Europe.

Just to be certain though, I checked the Amazon UK web site and searched for lactic acid bacteria. Here’s the first thing that came up on the search: ... d+bacteria

I’m leaning against pitching that in my beer.

yeah. Didn’t notice the Finland thing. Grow it up in a sour mash. Just boil it when those bugs have spit out enough lactic acid for your taste.


I’m leaning against pitching that in my beer.[/quote]
:lol: Might work but don’t think I’d use it either.

The downside I’ve seen about a sour mash is how hard it is to control the degree to which it is soured. Interview I heard with Dan Carey from New Glarus suggested letting a portion get fully soured and then blend it back in to a boiled and fermented portion to taste, seems like that would work.

The variability that can happen from a sour mash is not encouraging, but the reason I most want to avoid a sour mash is the smell. I really don’t want that smell in my house, and from what I’ve gathered much of that comes from other things on the grain, not the lactic acid bacteria. Or am I fooling myself?

I don’t think you are going to get around the thing smelling. There is lots of bacteria on grain. But I would only do a small portion of the mash as a sour mash, and blend accordingly. One of the prices to pay for proper sour.

What % of the mash would you recommend for souring? I’ve read that the last remaining brewery in Berlin to make this style splits the wort 50/50, pitches yeast into half, bacteria into the other half, then sterile filters both and adds new yeast for bottling. But that’s with controlled cultures, not a sour mash.

Sam from Eureka Brewing ( is based in Switzerland. He’s a homebrewer and yeast wrangler who’s really cool and willing to trade/ship yeast and bugs. I’m doing the EBY/BBA Brett Experiment ( … nt-422090/) and he must have shipped hundreds of brett vials to the states so I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem shipping lacto to Finland.

Good lead, thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, I’ve waited till the last minute for this; I’ll be brewing in just a couple days, so some variation of a sour mash seems like the only practical option. If I were to give my LHBS enough lead time, like 3-4 months, he can order pretty much anything for me, but I screwed up on this one. Depending on how this comes out, perhaps I’ll contact Sam. The EBY/BBA experiments sound cool, I’ll be following what you do.

Surprised he was able to get those shipments through to the US; shipping of live cultures is one of those things that I though required a lot of documentation, to the point where only companies who specialize in that business would manage it.

Sour mash sounds like best bet for the impending brew day. For your next Berliner, you can always do 1.030 starter wort and throw in acid malt which gives you the lacto (and possible bugs) and plays with the wort ph to make it a little more hospitable for lacto growth. Give it a few days, cold crash, decant off wort, and pour lacto/bug sediment into pasteurized apple juice with a little yeast nutrient. This should be a good environment for growth and storage of lacto.

Sam sent the brett experiment samples in 5ml vials with 1ml of slurry to build up via regular international mail in padded envelopes. Took 7-10 days to arrive and the brett was good to go after a few step-ups.

You could try this method pre fermentation, mid fermentation, or post fermentation. I’ve heard of people doing this with success before - not sure exactly how/when they added the grain though. Unfortunately I’ve never brewed a BW, so I’m just spitballing.

Good luck :cheers:

Thanks, ready to get started now; all 2 3/4 pounds of malt are milled :slight_smile: - never used so little malt in a beer before. I’ll post the results when I have them.

Long brew day. Cranked out an APA before starting the BW. First beer went like clockwork. BW?, not so much.

Was making a small “experimental” sized 10 liter batch, and my 72 quart cooler couldn’t maintain temperatures with such a small thermal mass in it. Struggled with that. Also my first time using a turbid mash, which actually would have worked out great (surprising how easy that was) except that again my mash tun was oversized and sucked up too much heat. Had to raise the temp in smaller steps than I’d anticipated.

Despite all that, ended up with 80% mash efficiency, and hit my target gravity of 1.030 exactly. Just took a lot more time and effort than I’d thought it would. No boil for this beer, but I did end the mash up around 180, so I may have killed off the native microbes. I’ll let the wort cool overnight while sitting in the sauna (ambient ~85°F), then will throw a handful of grain into the wort in the morning and will see what happens.

I’ve already warned the wife that there may be a strong smell from there over the next few days…

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