Author Topic: Blending sours  (Read 381 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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Blending sours
« on: June 05, 2014, 08:10:35 AM »
I've got a passle of sour beers some of which are destined for bottles soon. I suspect I will get a better final product with a little blending and I'm wondering how folks prefer to do the test blending.

I am planning on pulling a couple oz of each beer (I can't pull too much as I'm only working with a couple gallons of each) and dosing the one that I see as the 'base' beer with measured amount of the character beers. I've got three beers to work with.

1) a farmhouse ale fermented with dregs from the Almanac Brewers Reserve series I (or maybe II) that has been in my 20 liter balcones barrel for ~ 8 months. This beer is suprisingly mild with subdued sourness and funk and a hint of oak.
2) a 'sourdough' ale ~ 1 year old brewed with a more traditional lambic recipe, mostly pils, some flaked wheat and some old saaz for ~7 IBU. It was fermented with a sourdough starter that originated in Italy and came to me via Napa.  It has been ageing in glass on the yeast cake the whole time. It has a fairly neutral flavor  with a hint of chianti but with a distinct bite that I get from other sourdough ales I've tried.
3) an IPA base recipe brewed ~ 1 month ago. It was extra wort from the kettle that, after setting out in my backyard for 3 or 4 hours got rescued from the compost and pitched with the cake from the beer that's in the barrel. That cake was sitting in my fridge for a year so I pitched the whole thing which should have been a disaster but actually has turned out quite well (so far)


when all is said and done I would guess I have about 8 gallons of beer here; ~3 gallons of beer 1, 2 gallons of beer 2, and 3 gallons of beer 3.

I might like to bottle some of each straight but I also don't want to spend all day bottling.

With the young beer I suppose I should consider expected final gravities of ~ 1.000 so I should take that into account in any beer I blend with that.

Offline sambates

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2014, 06:30:12 AM »
Never done it, but I've thought through it before. I would likely snag a few 600mL or 1000mL glass beakers off Amazon and put the beers into those for blending. I would start with 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3. Then maybe shoot for 1/2, 1/4, and 1/4 after you've found your base beers. Or even 3/5, 1/5, and 1/5. Honestly, taste over fractions is the way to go, but it's a place to start. If you blend from beakers, then if towards the end you wanted a hint more of beer #2, for example, you could pour some and see how much you took away from your beaker. Allows for more fine tuning. Again, never done it, but this is how I would.
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 brewinhard

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2014, 08:41:49 AM »
I have been blending sour beers (most recently a gueuze which has been taking a lot of medals) and normal beers for several years now.  I typically start off by pulling about 5-6 oz of each beer I am intending to blend with.  I then get a hold of some pipettes and graduated cylinders (2).  From there, as stated above, I taste each beer separately and jot down some notes about the qualities I like and don't like.  I try to imagine what my final beer will look and taste like in the end so I know what I am shooting for.

I then start with a traditional 33% of each beer for a 1/3 blend of each beer and taste it.  Sometimes you get lucky and the beer tastes close to what you had envisioned and from there you can simply do minor tweaks with a percentage higher or lower of the other beers.  If you are not close, then try to determine what is missing - i.e. needs more maltiness, or the beer was too acetic, or not enough funk... you get the idea.  Then go back and using the graduated cylinder, try to create other blends that match what you were missing.  Taste each blend carefully in separate (I like wine glasses) glasses and keep them off to the side when creating and starting with fresh blends for other comparison trials.  You will quickly figure out which blends are working at which percentages and which do not work at all.  Keep in mind that if the beers are not carbonated then the acidity levels and funk levels will most likely be enhanced by carbonation when you are done. 

Take your time and do this in a place where you are not bothered by anyone or anything.  The blends can be a great way to make a good beer even better!  Good luck and keep us posted with your results and techniques being sure to take good notes as you go...

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2014, 08:44:22 AM »
I have been blending sour beers (most recently a gueuze which has been taking a lot of medals) and normal beers for several years now.  I typically start off by pulling about 5-6 oz of each beer I am intending to blend with.  I then get a hold of some pipettes and graduated cylinders (2).  From there, as stated above, I taste each beer separately and jot down some notes about the qualities I like and don't like.  I try to imagine what my final beer will look and taste like in the end so I know what I am shooting for.

I then start with a traditional 33% of each beer for a 1/3 blend of each beer and taste it.  Sometimes you get lucky and the beer tastes close to what you had envisioned and from there you can simply do minor tweaks with a percentage higher or lower of the other beers.  If you are not close, then try to determine what is missing - i.e. needs more maltiness, or the beer was too acetic, or not enough funk... you get the idea.  Then go back and using the graduated cylinder, try to create other blends that match what you were missing.  Taste each blend carefully in separate (I like wine glasses) glasses and keep them off to the side when creating and starting with fresh blends for other comparison trials.  You will quickly figure out which blends are working at which percentages and which do not work at all.  Keep in mind that if the beers are not carbonated then the acidity levels and funk levels will most likely be enhanced by carbonation when you are done. 

Take your time and do this in a place where you are not bothered by anyone or anything.  The blends can be a great way to make a good beer even better!  Good luck and keep us posted with your results and techniques being sure to take good notes as you go...

thanks for the Advice! Finding a place/time where I will not be bothered is going to be a challenge with a three year old in the house but we will as we can

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2014, 02:31:59 PM »
That sounds awesome. Just finished Wild Brews and waiting not so patiently for Tonsmierre's new book.


Please take detailed notes and keep us updated.

Offline Kinetic

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2014, 02:38:10 PM »
Mort mentioned sourdough ale via yeast.  Have you tried Breiss special roast malt?

It nails the sour dough bread flavor for at least 2 months in the 8-12oz range in a regular beer.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Blending sours
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2014, 03:44:39 PM »
I have been blending sour beers (most recently a gueuze which has been taking a lot of medals) and normal beers for several years now.  I typically start off by pulling about 5-6 oz of each beer I am intending to blend with.  I then get a hold of some pipettes and graduated cylinders (2).  From there, as stated above, I taste each beer separately and jot down some notes about the qualities I like and don't like.  I try to imagine what my final beer will look and taste like in the end so I know what I am shooting for.

I then start with a traditional 33% of each beer for a 1/3 blend of each beer and taste it.  Sometimes you get lucky and the beer tastes close to what you had envisioned and from there you can simply do minor tweaks with a percentage higher or lower of the other beers.  If you are not close, then try to determine what is missing - i.e. needs more maltiness, or the beer was too acetic, or not enough funk... you get the idea.  Then go back and using the graduated cylinder, try to create other blends that match what you were missing.  Taste each blend carefully in separate (I like wine glasses) glasses and keep them off to the side when creating and starting with fresh blends for other comparison trials.  You will quickly figure out which blends are working at which percentages and which do not work at all.  Keep in mind that if the beers are not carbonated then the acidity levels and funk levels will most likely be enhanced by carbonation when you are done. 

Take your time and do this in a place where you are not bothered by anyone or anything.  The blends can be a great way to make a good beer even better!  Good luck and keep us posted with your results and techniques being sure to take good notes as you go...

thanks for the Advice! Finding a place/time where I will not be bothered is going to be a challenge with a three year old in the house but we will as we can

I totally get it!  I have a 4 year old and 16 mos old raging throughout the house.  I usually have to wait for them to be out of the house, or in bed for a proper blending scenario.  That definitely does not include the actual act of blending the beers either.