Lacto starter with hops?

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Active Member
May 9, 2023
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Lexington, KY
Brewing my second Berliner Weisse. Had good success last time using uncrushed base malt to create a lacto starter. My protocol was to add 100F wort on top of 1 cup uncrushed base malt in a vacuum insulated growler for 24h before inoculating the 5 gallon batch (it maintains temp of 90F). Filled it to the brim and covered with sanitized foil.

This time, I saved a bunch of wort from My Oktoberfest (about 6 weeks ago) to serve as a starter. The wort was kept in my fermentation chamber and followed a standard lager temperature schedule over the past several weeks. Although the wort was hopped (about 25 IBU), it had some sour aroma and flavor (and pH 4.15). (In retrospect, I should have just made a new yeast starter and pitched this as the sour starter since the aroma and flavor were excellent.)

The plan was to split the starter for one yeast and one sour starter. So, I diluted to 1.035 gravity, boiled the wort, chilled, and pitched as appropriate for each starter. Only then did I remember the lacto starter was hopped. My question: will the hopped wort prevent lacto from growing in the starter?

I’m assuming it will sour with enough time. Just concerned it might not fit my plan to inoculate the full batch in 24h. Anyone else have a similar experience?
For what it’s worth, smell and taste of the starter indicate LAB is growing. Inoculated the whole batch about 7h ago and the kettle is giving off notable LAB aroma. A small sample tastes of relatively clean lacto souring with not notable off flavors and aromas. Pushing ahead with a brief boil (with home-grown hops), chill, and ferment later today.
I have no experience of this style, but it's fascinating to follow your attempts to recreate it. If I'm following correctly, you're making a small sour batch which you'll then use to inoculate the entire mash. The boil will kill the LAB, but the beer will remain sour. Is this right? A few thoughts come to mind: could acidulated malt be used at the first stage? Why not simply add lactic acid to get the sourness? Could this process be used to give the sour tang found in Guinness?
I the meantime, I should investigate Berliner Weisse.
Too much Lactic will give a acidic taste to beer so yes I would think that should get you part way there.
The use of raw grain will also create a Lacto starter as I was always told not to use FV's etc that have been used or implements that have not been washed very well if they have come into contact with raw grain for that reason.
I suppose maybe a thought you could leave the mash grains until it gets into the Lacto temperature and that should also sour the beer. It will then be killed off when boiled the only down side of this is that it creates a cheesy smell which I am not sure if this will go away with the boil
I keep te starter in a vacuum insulated growler and covered to prevent oxygen exposure to reduce the orders. It works for me, in this case, even when a small IBU was present. Once the Lacto is established, I pitch into the kettle (after mash/sparge), cover, and leave the temp set at 37C. Once the batch is sour, just boil and chill, and transfer to FV. It seems to work well

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