Lambic Mead Making, and What I Learned Last Time

lambic mead yeast cake

This is a mead similar to my last Lambic mead.

I learned a lot while I was making my last Lambic mead, and plan to use those lessons to make this batch even better. Lag times are pretty astronomical. I expect to see an even longer lag time before I see signs of anything, but I know to be patient. With the first generation, The yeast ate the sugars very quickly. I fed the bacteria with some maltodextrin, a flavorless sugar which is too complex for Saccharomyces to eat.




Storm II – 2nd Generation Lambic Mead

Mead using ale yeast and bacteria
Ingredients
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Process

I pitched a new must onto the cake from my previously bottled Lambic Mead.I also pitched a saved slurry from the primary.

Pitched on 3/18/14

8 days

Still in Lag phase/ no visible signs of fermentation. I’ve read that sour cakes and second (and beyond) generation bugs can sour your must in as little as 2 weeks. I also listened to a show on Sours on the The Brewing Network that said that lacto will out produce Brett in the up to 11 day lag that Brettanomyces can have. Because of this I’m going to pour a small sample and see if my must is already considerably sour.

13 days

During the extended lag phase, some mold grew in. I was able to rack off of it into a new fermenter. I lost about 20 oz of must, but wasn’t going to risk moving the mold over. I also pitched Red Star Cotes De Blancs. I’ll be adding maltodextrin in shortly.

17 days

Fermenting away some-what happily now. I can’t be sure if it was the Brett Kicking in, the Belgian yeast from last generation waking up, or the ancient pack of Cotes De Blancs. Maybe it’s a mix of all three, but I’m happy my mold woes are gone for now.

Lambic mead 2nd generation pellicle 156 days

 

Taste update; BAM! Sour heaven. Really dominating sourness throughout the taste. I’m sure the 10 Day lag time combined with the previously grown souring bacteria gave them ample time to produce acid before yeast slowed them down. I took the Maltodextrin out of the recipe as the bugs didn’t need it for sourness. Going to Add oak when this gets racked.

2.5 months

Just hanging out in the closet. It is starting to form a pellicle so I figured I’d upload it as it’s more interesting than looking at a vial of yeast slurry.

4 months

Tasting update: Poured a tiny sample to see where I was at. Bretty notes similar to the first generation, a little musty but not offensive to a newcomer in funk-land. Overall, this batch is much better off than the first generation was at this point. This is pretty balanced and complex. The sourness has tuned way down to levels that don’t require blending out. I’m expecting good things from this experiment, as I haven’t been let down yet by these wild meads.

lambic mead pellicle 2nd generation 24.5 months

Poured bottle dregs of Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour ale into the primary. Just adding to the souring cocktail that is Lambic 2nd Generation. Going to check the gravity soon.

23 months

This has been aged on mixed fruit, and blended with a third generation lambic mead. This third generation got very “horsey” and spicy, so I blended it down with this second generation lambic mead. One blend got 2/3 of the horsey mix and the other got 1/3. Based on this experience, I don’t recommend using a third generation bug blend for a primary fermentation. It should be fine for a pronounced brett profile in a secondary ferment though.

This concludes my experimentation on Lambic meads (including the berliner mead experiment, and third generation). I have a very solid idea of how to make successful ones going into the future, and how to avoid missteps. I would consider the experiments highly successful, and will continue to make sour meads going forward. I’m currently turning my sights towards all Brett meads for further research.

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