I bought Nordic Saison from Hill Farmstead and loved it. I have a Saison recipe that I really like and I want to try and sour that. I took the dregs from a 750ml of the Nordic and threw it in a small starter (1.030). I'm including a photo after three days. It looks like things are going well but I need to create another starter to bolster the culture. Maybe a step up to 1.040 and maybe 1.5 liters this time. Can someone confirm this and include any tips?

Also I read some references (after the fact) to using an airlock with sour starters. What's the reason for this and did I ruin it by not doing that?

Sour Starter

  • This may be the answer to my second question: "Yeast strains (including Brett) need oxygen, Pedio on the other hand can’t deal with oxygen. pH can also be an issue since the acid produced for bacteria can damage yeast cells (remember this when considering waiting to pitch a primary yeast to give the bacteria a head start)." found @ themadfermentationist.com/2009/11/…
    – W.Jackson
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


This is a very broad question but here's some direction:

...and the usefulness of this answer depends on whether you are planning on starting a long term barrel project or a medium term sour beer or a very quick sour batch...

Something is growing, but it is certainly changing the ratios of different critters. My thinking would be to split the starter up and put each flask into different conditions, depending on what want to do. Since the yeast and various bugs have different optimal growth temperatures, you could grow different things and then recombine them. Maybe some oxygen for the yeast, warmer for lactobacculus, etc).

As far as oxygen goes, some strains of pedio will tolerate it, but many of these sour cultures will make nasty flavors when exposed to oxygen. So plan on decanting before you pitch.

Final note: a microscope is a handy thing to have when you play around with these, at least until your nose is well trained.

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