Author Topic: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?  (Read 1057 times)

Offline sambates

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Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« on: April 09, 2014, 04:11:47 PM »
I have two sours (lambic & flanders red), which I brewed back in July. I pulled a small sample today and they are still not quite to that awesome sour state (I know it takes up to a year, or longer sometimes). Is it too soon to add fruit or will the sugars from the fruit give the bugs something to feed on and produce some more lactic and brett character? I am playing with adding fruit in the next few weeks, but will gladly wait pending advice. Thanks!
Tap: Doppelbock, American Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Kettle Soured Berliner Weisse, Black Saison, Scottish 80/-, Wild Cider, Tart Cherry Porter, RyePA
Secondary: Flanders Red, Lambic, Flemish Barrel Sour, Dark Strong Sour
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Offline GolfBum

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2014, 05:10:08 PM »
I brewed a golden strong and soured it with al's bugs. I added granny smith apples to it around 6 months in and it gave the bugs a good jolt and added a lot of good flavor and souring. I bottled at the 10th month with great apple flavor and a good sourness.

Offline Kinetic

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 12:54:27 PM »
Regarding this subject, I do things differently than the popular consensus of the internet tells me to do and I've been very happy with the results.  Here is how I do a Flanders with fruit:

Brew a simple batch sparged Belgian amber ale mashed at 152F.  Zero hops.  4oz. of malto-dextrin added to the boil.  Chill to the low 60s.  Pitch one pack of Roeselare WY3763.  No starter.  Pitch one pack of brett or a small starter of dregs from a brett beer.

Let it ferment for 30 days.  It should get bubbling in less than 2 days.  After 30 days, check the gravity.  It should be around 1.010 already.  Now add the fruit to the primary.  That's right, I said add the fruit after 30 days.  Let it ferment for another 5-6 months.  Don't open the fermenter during this phase.  There is no reason to.  Satisfying your curiosity too see how sour it is won't make the beer taste better when you are ready to drink it, but it might make it taste worse.

After 6-7 months of fermentation and 5-6 months on the fruit, you should be ready to bottle.  Check the gravity.  It should be around 1.002-1.006.  I've had good luck not adding wine yeast at bottling.  However, it takes 1-2 months for the bottles to carb.  During this time, the sourness increases.

9 months after brewing, you should have a tasty fruited Flanders fully carbed in bottles.  The Flanders I currently have in bottles used this method with 1.5# of dried black currants.  The fruit flavor is substantial.  The internet says it shouldn't be.  The sourness is mouth watering.  The pH is 3.32.  The brett character is robust.   

Offline erockrph

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 02:40:55 PM »
Regarding this subject, I do things differently than the popular consensus of the internet tells me to do and I've been very happy with the results.  Here is how I do a Flanders with fruit:

Brew a simple batch sparged Belgian amber ale mashed at 152F.  Zero hops.  4oz. of malto-dextrin added to the boil.  Chill to the low 60s.  Pitch one pack of Roeselare WY3763.  No starter.  Pitch one pack of brett or a small starter of dregs from a brett beer.

Let it ferment for 30 days.  It should get bubbling in less than 2 days.  After 30 days, check the gravity.  It should be around 1.010 already.  Now add the fruit to the primary.  That's right, I said add the fruit after 30 days.  Let it ferment for another 5-6 months.  Don't open the fermenter during this phase.  There is no reason to.  Satisfying your curiosity too see how sour it is won't make the beer taste better when you are ready to drink it, but it might make it taste worse.

After 6-7 months of fermentation and 5-6 months on the fruit, you should be ready to bottle.  Check the gravity.  It should be around 1.002-1.006.  I've had good luck not adding wine yeast at bottling.  However, it takes 1-2 months for the bottles to carb.  During this time, the sourness increases.

9 months after brewing, you should have a tasty fruited Flanders fully carbed in bottles.  The Flanders I currently have in bottles used this method with 1.5# of dried black currants.  The fruit flavor is substantial.  The internet says it shouldn't be.  The sourness is mouth watering.  The pH is 3.32.  The brett character is robust.

Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I'm just starting to get my sours up and running, so this is good info for me.

Here's a few followup questions, if you don't mind. It sounds like you're not adding any priming sugar - do you find that the 1.002-1.006 range is the right target for bottle-conditioned sours? Do you ever have any issues with overcarbonated bottles at the upper end of that range, or undercarbonated at the lower end? Are you using heavy Belgian bottles, or the normal 12oz and bombers that we typically recycle from US craft brewers?

For the black currants, are you using 1.5lb in a full 5-gallon batch? I'm planning on using my harvest this season in a sour or two (a sour-wort Berliner Weisse and/or part of a batch of Lambic I brewed this fall). I was thinking of using 2-3 pounds in a 3-gallon batch. It sounds like you are using a whole lot less.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline Kinetic

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 04:06:07 PM »
Regarding this subject, I do things differently than the popular consensus of the internet tells me to do and I've been very happy with the results.  Here is how I do a Flanders with fruit:

Brew a simple batch sparged Belgian amber ale mashed at 152F.  Zero hops.  4oz. of malto-dextrin added to the boil.  Chill to the low 60s.  Pitch one pack of Roeselare WY3763.  No starter.  Pitch one pack of brett or a small starter of dregs from a brett beer.

Let it ferment for 30 days.  It should get bubbling in less than 2 days.  After 30 days, check the gravity.  It should be around 1.010 already.  Now add the fruit to the primary.  That's right, I said add the fruit after 30 days.  Let it ferment for another 5-6 months.  Don't open the fermenter during this phase.  There is no reason to.  Satisfying your curiosity too see how sour it is won't make the beer taste better when you are ready to drink it, but it might make it taste worse.

After 6-7 months of fermentation and 5-6 months on the fruit, you should be ready to bottle.  Check the gravity.  It should be around 1.002-1.006.  I've had good luck not adding wine yeast at bottling.  However, it takes 1-2 months for the bottles to carb.  During this time, the sourness increases.

9 months after brewing, you should have a tasty fruited Flanders fully carbed in bottles.  The Flanders I currently have in bottles used this method with 1.5# of dried black currants.  The fruit flavor is substantial.  The internet says it shouldn't be.  The sourness is mouth watering.  The pH is 3.32.  The brett character is robust.

Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I'm just starting to get my sours up and running, so this is good info for me.

Here's a few followup questions, if you don't mind. It sounds like you're not adding any priming sugar - do you find that the 1.002-1.006 range is the right target for bottle-conditioned sours? Do you ever have any issues with overcarbonated bottles at the upper end of that range, or undercarbonated at the lower end? Are you using heavy Belgian bottles, or the normal 12oz and bombers that we typically recycle from US craft brewers?

For the black currants, are you using 1.5lb in a full 5-gallon batch? I'm planning on using my harvest this season in a sour or two (a sour-wort Berliner Weisse and/or part of a batch of Lambic I brewed this fall). I was thinking of using 2-3 pounds in a 3-gallon batch. It sounds like you are using a whole lot less.


I do add priming sugar.  I'll use my most recent batch as an example.  The FG was 1.005 after 6 months.  The 4oz. of malto-dextrin takes a long time for the brett to eat and I doubt this beer would ever get to 1.000 in the fermenter at the same mash temp.  If I mashed a bit lower, the same beer might have finished at 1.002 over the same amount of time.  I think the key to safety is waiting at least six months.  If the brett hasn't consumed the wort in six months, there can't be much left they can easily consume.  If the same beer was 1.005 after three months, I wouldn't feel safe bottling it and it would likely be lower after six months.

It was primed with table sugar to produce 2.8vols of C02.  After 1 month in the bottle, it was like 2.0 vols.  After 1.5 months in the bottle it was more like 2.3 vols.  That is where I'm at now.  It may take another month or two to approach 2.8 or it might not get there due to the unknown quantity of co2 loss from the extended storage and several months of using a heat belt in a cold basement. 

I mostly use plastic bottles with screw caps for my brett beers.  I'm not willing to risk shards of glass to the face.  Final gravity can be difficult to accurately predict with this type of beer.  I do use a few Jolly Pumpkin heavy duty glass bottles, but tend to drink those first.  80% of what gets bottled is in plastic.  I can't tell a flavor or aroma difference between glass and plastic when consumed on the same day.  The benefits of using plastic bottles in this scenario are no risk of bottle bombs and the bottle gets hard when adequate carbonation is achieved. 

I haven't had any over-carbed bottles.  The longest I've kept them in bottles is about 1 year.  So far, the only time I thought it was under-carbed was because I was anxious to taste it and drank it too soon.  Sours taste fine to me with low carbonation, but my favorite for pretty much any beer is 2.5 vols.  There are several sour commercial lambics that have no carbonation at all.  I haven't had a wild beer not carb at all.  Brett is tenacious.  It just takes a few months to work.  If you want it to carb in two weeks, add wine or champagne yeast with the priming sugar.

The 1.5# of black currants was for a 6 gallon batch.  They were dried currants.  Wet currants weigh more per berry.  I've never used wet currants and don't know how much more they weigh per berry.  1.5-2x as much sounds reasonable, but don't know if that would produce the same result as a smaller amount of dried currants.  All I can tell you is the amount I used produced plenty of fruit flavor and I don't feel like it needs more next time. 

Offline erockrph

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 04:30:32 PM »
More great info. And I like the plastic bottle idea quite a bit. Makes it easy to segregate from non-wild bottles if you want to keep them separate, too.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline Kinetic

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2014, 11:37:52 AM »
FWIW, the MoreBeer Russian River Consecration kit uses 2lbs of dried currants.  After 5 months of fermenting, my dried currants were almost completely disintegrated.  There was only about a half dozen berry carcasses left. 

I saw you are growing your own currants.  I wanted to do that, but will probably be moving before I can use them.  Were you able to get fruit the first season?

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2014, 01:42:19 PM »
OP - what kind of bugs did you use?

After a year, you're probably not going to get any more acidity out of lactobacillus, even after adding the fruit. If you used a culture w/ pediococcus, it may kick up in the next few months.

If you choose to wait on the pedio (which I recommend), hold off on adding fruit or transferring. Pedio likes an oxygen-free environment, so disturbing the beer may impede pedio's acid production.

Other options:
1. Pitch a store-bought culture of pedio. Make sure to minimize O2 pickup: handling, transfers, etc. Treat it just like you would a hoppy Double IPA. Wait another 6-8 months (at least) before sampling again. This is a good idea even if pedio was in your initial pitch.

2. Use acidic fruit. Tart cherries, rhubarb, wine grapes, cranberries, or raspberries. Rhubarb complements other fruits nicely and adds acidity.

3. Adjust acidity w/ lactic acid. If the acid level is fairly close to what you want, adjusting w/ lactic acid is a great option. I like to do it in the keg, so I can pour a carbonated pint, adjust dropwise, then scale up.

4. Add fruit juice fermented w/ lactobacillus. A new pitch of lacto may not thrive in the existing beer, but you could pitch it into some fruit juice to create acid before adding the juice to the beer. I've never tried it, but  I've made lacto starters w/ fruit juice, and the decanted wort is usually quite tart. Its also similar to how I make Berlinerweiss (with a small portion of wort instead of the juice).

Let me know how you go about it, especially if you try the last option - I'd love to hear the results!
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Offline sambates

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2014, 02:51:48 PM »
Thanks for your info. I'll consider that for my next sour. Also, do you always use dried fruit? I know Russian River always uses dried fruit and does something similar to your method. They'll age in the barrel with the dried fruit for 6-8 months after primary fermentation.

Someone in my homebrew club suggested adding some maltodextrine to the carboys (since when I brewed these I was only 6 months into brewing and didn't add it then). So I added 8oz maltodextrine to each carboy and I'll probably let them sit until the end of June. I'm splitting my 5gal lambic into 2 separate batches. With one I'm doing a Kriek with tart cherries and the other I'm aging on apricots and dry-hopping with amarillo. My flander's is super good and I don't know if I want to add fruit, but if I do, I'm thinking pluots or raspberries.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 02:54:37 PM by sambates »
Tap: Doppelbock, American Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Kettle Soured Berliner Weisse, Black Saison, Scottish 80/-, Wild Cider, Tart Cherry Porter, RyePA
Secondary: Flanders Red, Lambic, Flemish Barrel Sour, Dark Strong Sour
Primary:

Offline Kinetic

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2014, 03:57:48 PM »
I don't always use dried fruit.  I used dried currants because fresh currants aren't available at the grocery store or fruit market.  I buy them online.  Organic Zante currants.  They are $8 a pound and taste great as a snack.

One reason I add malto-dextrin to the boil is to give some complex sugars for the brett to eat long after the sacc has consumed the simple sugars.  The other reason is I don't have the enthusiasm to do a turbid mash which produces a similar result in an overly complicated manner.  I do a simple, single batch sparge in the 150s and add the dextrin to the boil.  The only quantity I've ever tried is 4oz. and this seems to be plenty to produce a sour beer with a big brett note in less than a year.

When I sample the beer after 30 days, the body is thick and the gravity is around 1.010.  5-6 months later the gravity is around 1.005 and the body is much thinner.  8oz. of MD will take longer for the brett to eat.  How much longer, I don't know.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Adding Fruit to a Sour...When?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2014, 07:53:01 PM »
FWIW, the MoreBeer Russian River Consecration kit uses 2lbs of dried currants.  After 5 months of fermenting, my dried currants were almost completely disintegrated.  There was only about a half dozen berry carcasses left. 

I saw you are growing your own currants.  I wanted to do that, but will probably be moving before I can use them.  Were you able to get fruit the first season?

I got them online. They were about the size of raspberry canes when they first came in, so the first year was just the initial growth. Currants set fruit very early in the season, so I doubt you'd get anything the first year unless you were transplanting decent-sized plants. The second year I got about a pound from my black currants, and about 2 pounds each from my red & pink. This is year 3, but I pruned pretty aggressively over the winter, so I expect about the same as last year. In another year or two I should be getting good-sized harvests.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer