Author Topic: My plan for my sour program  (Read 1080 times)

Offline brewmasternpb

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My plan for my sour program
« on: July 29, 2013, 08:05:59 PM »
Hey Gang, I would like some feedback on my proposed sour program for my home-brewery. It sounds convoluted, but it makes sense with my equipment and house. The main goal is to continue brewing as much as I currently do, which is once per month, and squeeze some fermenter space for funky/ sour beers.
The plan- Brew similar beers 3 times in a row. For each batch, I will brew 7 gallons. I will split each batch into 5 and 2 gallon batches. The 5 gallon batches will be my "intended" beers... Beers that the recipe was intended for, and beers that I will continue to use to enter in comps and judge my progress as a brewer.
The 2 gallon batches will initially be fermented with a Sach yeast. I will blend the 2 gallon batches until I get 3 batches together, make a 6 gallon blend. I then want to spike this blend with Brett and/or bacteria (depending on the base beers). I will then let that beer sit until it is ready. I will repeat this process every 3 beers. I would love to answer questions and get feedback.  Thanks, Dave.
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2013, 08:18:38 PM »
Sounds good. The only thing you might consider is souring the 2 gallon batches separately and blending later - more ability to experiment but a lot more containers too.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2013, 09:19:37 PM »
I also agree you would have a more fruitful project if you blend after the souring/funking occurs than blending beforehand. You may mix two beers together that seem ok after the primary fermentation but don't belong together after getting funky or sour.

Either way, you're going to end up with a lot of fermentors full of beer. A beer with just brett is going to take anywhere from 3-12 months, depending on how much fermentable food is left behind after the primary fermentation. Any sour beer with pedio is pretty much going to need 9-12 months (or more) to make sure you clear any ropy stages and reach full sourness. You can make some good sour beers with brett plus lacto but I don't think you'll get good sourness relying only on lacto unless it gets into the fermentor in the beginning. Lacto doesn't do a great job of breaking down complex sugars or starches into simple sugars (otherwise it would consume our grains before we could brew with them).
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Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2013, 09:45:44 PM »
...And that's why I turn to the forum.  Souring beforehand could be advantageous.  also, nice tip on the Pedio.  If I added just Brett, would I get something like Orval?
Dave Malone
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 04:46:23 AM »
...And that's why I turn to the forum.  Souring beforehand could be advantageous.  also, nice tip on the Pedio.  If I added just Brett, would I get something like Orval?

Depends on the strain of Brett. If you pitch the dregs of Orval into a hoppy belgian golden ale, it will be reminiscent of Orval. But if you're just adding one strain, might as well add it at bottling/kegging to free up a fermentor.

I agree w/ Jimmy - just keep a bunch of small sour/funky batches around for blending/experiments. I like to split my sour wort and add different bugs to each, add different fruit/hops/spices, or any number of treatments. Buckets are cheap!
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Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2013, 06:48:10 AM »
Good Enough,
Thanks guys!
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

Offline yugamrap

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2013, 07:54:31 AM »
I agree with others that souring the batches before blending is a good idea.  You may want to do that with Wyeast's 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend.  You might also want to check out the solera method of blending.  I started a solera in February of this year (2013) with a 5-gallon batch intended to be a Flanders Red when finished.  The plan is to use the solera method to blend future batches with this initial batch to develop complexity in a "house" Flanders Red.

A solera is just a series of vessels used for blending.  The method is to add "new" beer to the first vessel in the series and draw finished beer from the last vessel.  With each round of adding new beer and drawing finished beer, beer is racked down the line of vessels (1 -> 2 -> 3 ->...N) and a portion of beer (10-30%) is left behind in each vessel to be blended with the beer coming from the previous vessel in the series.  Depending on the number of vessels in the series, it can take several years for beer to make it to the finished blend.  Beer from the last solera vessel is often blended with a portion of new beer to get the desired flavor profile.

Interesting things like oaking or spicing can be done in different stages of a solera, too.  My solera is a series of glass carboys (just two at the moment).  I have a small amount of oak chips in my second vessel that I intend to leave in there forever as a site for a bacteria culture to live on - sort of like emulating the way bugs live in the pores of an oak cask.  I'll probably do the same when I add a third vessel later this year.

You'd think that a solera could be tucked away in a corner and forgotten - but I check mine every week to top-off the airlocks so they don't run dry.  Each carboy is capped with a drilled natural cork and a 3-piece airlock.  I'm using the natural cork to try to emulate the slight amount of oxygen permeation that occurs in large wooden casks.  That little bit of oxygen is needed if you want the acetobacter to develop some vinegar character.  All of the solera carboys sit on a shelf in my basement at ambient temperature (65-75 F) and are each covered with a cardboard box to keep them in the dark.

I can't tell you much about how this beer will finish as I haven't drawn any finished beer from my solera yet, and probably won't draw more than 2.5 gallons later this year.  Recent samples from the second vessel are showing some pleasant souring and a mild aceto character, though.  One of the members of our club runs a solera similar to what I've described.  He's been running it almost four years now and has won several medals with his Flanders Red. 
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2013, 09:12:24 AM »
You'd think that a solera could be tucked away in a corner and forgotten - but I check mine every week to top-off the airlocks so they don't run dry.  Each carboy is capped with a drilled natural cork and a 3-piece airlock.  I'm using the natural cork to try to emulate the slight amount of oxygen permeation that occurs in large wooden casks.  That little bit of oxygen is needed if you want the acetobacter to develop some vinegar character.  All of the solera carboys sit on a shelf in my basement at ambient temperature (65-75 F) and are each covered with a cardboard box to keep them in the dark.

You may want to think about replacing the three piece airlocks with S-type airlocks. The S-type airlocks do not suffer from the quick evaporation like three piece airlocks. I have a solera system running at home myself and I started off with a three piece airlock but found myself constantly finding the airlock going dry. I was refilling it every month or so. It can also create a problem with suckback if it is in a place where it can be exposed to temperature swings, even from cool nights to warm days. That might also be a reason why you are having to refill weekly. The S-type airlocks do not evaporate nearly as quickly and getting suckback is nearly impossible. Now I only have to top up the airlocks once every few months.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2013, 10:34:52 AM »
You may want to think about replacing the three piece airlocks with S-type airlocks. The S-type airlocks do not suffer from the quick evaporation like three piece airlocks...

GREAT tip! I'll be steadily replacing my 3-piece airlocks - it really is a lot of upkeep to keep them full (especially for beers you want to forget about for 6-18 months).


...Each carboy is capped with a drilled natural cork and a 3-piece airlock.  I'm using the natural cork to try to emulate the slight amount of oxygen permeation that occurs in large wooden casks... 

Never really understood the cork stopper method. If anything, it only allows oxygen into the headspace, which is normally protected by a pellicle. That is, until you jab it with a wine thief, which I wouldn't consider micro-oxygenation parallel to pickup via barrel staves. Seems like the cork would just dry out, potentially absorbing moisture from the air and harboring mold.

Nothing but a barrel will give you just the right amount of micro-oxygenation. Buckets are a passable second.

...That little bit of oxygen is needed if you want the acetobacter to develop some vinegar character...

Micro-oxygenation obtained by wild beer in oak barrels is coveted because it can allow brett to express a wider variety of flavor compounds.

If you're developing acetic acid (above the levels of a good gueuze), you're picking up too much oxygen. Ironically, this amount of oxygen pickup will inhibit pediococcus, which produces acidity that is softer, more complex, and generally preferred over acetic.

If you really feel that your beer is lacking acetic character, try dosing (in the glass at first) with a touch of good balsamic vinegar. Of all the wild sours I've brewed or tasted, none would have improved with higher amounts of acetic acid. But who knows.





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Offline redbeerman

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2013, 10:38:05 AM »
Of all the wild sours I've brewed or tasted, none would have improved with higher amounts of acetic acid. But who knows.


I would agree.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2013, 11:39:38 AM »
*steps off soap box*

I like your soap box!  8)
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: My plan for my sour program
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 01:04:15 PM »
*steps off soap box*

I like your soap box!  8)

Well... you know what they say opinions are like...
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