Author Topic: Sour Experiment  (Read 1328 times)

Offline slats

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Sour Experiment
« on: December 01, 2014, 04:48:27 AM »
I have about two gallons left from a berry stout that I brewed with some friends about 8 months ago. The beer won second place in a local home brew contest. I've kept everything clean and in a fermentation chamber at 68 degrees since day one. The airlock has always been maintained. It looks good still - nothing strange appears to be going on.

I've been wondering what I could do with it. I thought that maybe I could do a small 3 gallon batch of wort with some DME and then blend it with the berry stout carefully so as to avoid oxygenation. Then I thought about pitching some white labs Belgian sour mix WLP655 and just letting it go for awhile. Maybe add some sort of berries at some point. Maybe some oak chips....

Any thoughts on this?

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 04:14:18 PM »
Personally I would ferment out the new wort portion with the sour mix for a couple weeks and then rack in the stout and let it all sit and continue to sour together. The reason I would do it that way is to give the lacto in the sour mix more of a chance to produce acid in the wort. The stout is full of yeast (at least the trub is) and all that yeast is going to be very competitive against the lacto for early resources. That way you don't have to rely on just pedio to do your souring.

However, it will probably turn out fine if you rack everything into the stout.
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Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 03:42:00 AM »
That sounds like solid advice. Thanks!

Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 01:52:38 PM »
What would you suggest for hops (if any)?

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 03:53:02 PM »
If you're pitching a sour mix from one of the labs then you could do no hops but if you are going to use hops then go with whatever you have on hand (or whatever you can get cheapest) and just do a bittering addition to 5-10 IBUs.
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Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2014, 05:44:21 AM »
Let's talk about the actual blending process...Should I rack them both into a clean carboy or should I rack the old onto the new and stir gently so I get full advantage of everything. Do I need the whole yeast cake and trub from the sour mix in order for the souring to occur or are there enough suspended bugs to make it happen? Do I need to stir gently?

If I rack the berry onto the new sour.... Do I leave it on the yeast cake indefinitely or should I at some point rack the blend to another carboy?

Thx
« Last Edit: December 10, 2014, 01:54:17 PM by slats »

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2014, 05:20:17 PM »
Let's talk about the actual blending process...Should I rack them both into a clean carboy or should I rack the old onto the new and stir gently so I get full advantage of everything. Do I need the whole yeast cake and trub from the sour mix in order for the souring to occur or are there enough suspended bugs to make it happen? Do I need to stir gently?

If I rack the berry onto the new sour.... Do I leave it on the yeast cake indefinitely or should I at some point rack the blend to another carboy?

Thx

I would rack the stout into the new beer and let it all sit together until it's ready to be packaged. I would not worry about racking off the trub. There's no need to stir the beers. They will blend together on their own.
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Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2015, 11:13:00 PM »
Here it is early June. I finally sampled this. It's good! I think it's time to add something to it. I keep thinking oak chips and cherries. How do I add theses things? Do they need to be sanitized? How do I sanitize them?
I think that by Christmas it's going to be awesome...

Any other ideas for additions?

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2015, 12:32:49 AM »
Since it is already inoculated with varied bacterium... I wouldn't worry too much about further bugs, unless you don't want to change the aroma/flavor profile too much. I would use wood beans (cubes), spirals or honeycombs over chips - they provide a deeper and more interesting wood character, but will take a bit longer. You will want to sample over time to remove the wood when you get the character you want, but let it go just a bit longer as the wood flavors fade and transform over time in the bottle.

For the fruit - you have a lot of options. It seems that you can get some wild yeast and bacteria from fresh fruit (even after freezing). I have gotten lactobacillus from fruit additions, but embraced the additional sourness. I know a few folk will blanch their fruit in boiling water before freezing - others just don't worry about it. You MAY want to add some pecticinase or pectic enzyme to prevent pectin haze from forming.

IMO both should be bagged so they can be easily removed when you get the flavors you are after.
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Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2015, 01:21:13 AM »
Thanks Matt,

So this may be a dumb question but how do I remove the spiral and the bag from the carboy when I think it's time? In my experience, bags are very difficult to pull out through the neck of a carboy. Can I put a string on the oak spiral?

Offline mchrispen

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Sour Experiment
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2015, 01:36:44 AM »
Yeah the spiral or a small bag of beans are easy. Use floss or clean fishing line. I bag fruit and rack onto it in a carboy or wood barrel, rack off when done. Most times this goes into a keg or bottling bucket when I am sure the secondary fruit sugars are exhausted and Gravity is stable. A bag contains most of the fruit.


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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2015, 12:16:52 PM »
Thanks Matt,

So this may be a dumb question but how do I remove the spiral and the bag from the carboy when I think it's time? In my experience, bags are very difficult to pull out through the neck of a carboy. Can I put a string on the oak spiral?

I too find bagging fruit to be cumbersome.  I typically use purees for their sanitation and ease since they nicely settle out on the bottom of the fermenter especially after cold crashing.  When I use fresh fruit, I will gently wash the fruit (if it is a larger fruit and has skin, then I sometimes dunk them in starsan), cut them up and freeze them which helps to burst the cell walls and make the sugars more accessible for the yeast/bacteria.  Then on racking day, I defrost the fruit, transfer through a funnel using a sanitized spoon to push the pieces through the funnel opening and gently rack the beer on top being sure to blast with some CO2 prior to racking and after to minimize oxidation. 

I have never used pectinase enzyme with this process and my fruit beers tend to be pretty clear (gelatin them if needed).  Pectinase is really only needed if the fruit is boiled or heated prior to using which I also feel is uneccesary. 

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2015, 01:24:46 PM »
Last year I didnt use any oak in my sours. Matt suggested it would improve the straight sour I sent him so this year im going with one light toast american oak spiral in each fermenter. I'll probably add them once I move them from the temp control chamber to the aging chamber, aka spare bedroom closet. Four 8 gallon batches, two without fruit, one with peach puree and one with cherry puree. I add my fruit by opening the fermenter and dumping it in. I don't worry about racking because brett beers don't really have autolyces problems. My oak will be in there until I bottle, probably about 6 to 8 months. I'll just rack, then remove the oak when I clean. Or, I might just refill the fermenters and let them go forth and conquer.

I'm looking forward to what the new guidelines bring. I think American Sour Beer is a new frontier. My personal approach is to take steps to eliminate any off flavors, but then I get out of the way and let the brett and bugs do the real work. Then I prefer not to blend. I want to experience what that batch did rather than chase after something I had in mind. Plus, thats cheaper and less work since I don't have to deal with multiple barrels. So its partly a cop out, but it comes with bragging rights lol. I could see a sub category of unblended sours some day.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 01:38:31 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline slats

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2015, 02:19:36 PM »
I think the purée sounds like the way to go. It will need to get blended with the beer. Can I stir very gently without the risk of oxygenating? What about the pelicle....is it ok to disturb that (I don't see how not to). Will the pelicle regenerate? Does that even matter?
Most of the comments I've read regarding the use of oak chips or spirals is that it should only remain in the beer for a couple of days at most. Will leaving them in for the entire duration of the aging period cause too intense of oak flavoring?

Thanks everyone for your input. I'm really looking forward to getting to drink this. I think my biggest mistake was making such a small batch. I need to get a few more of these going...

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Sour Experiment
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2015, 07:42:41 PM »
Well, most commercial sour beers are born and raised in oak. Usually they spend a year to three in the barrel. They arent too oaky. I know theres a surface area debate, and 5 gallons in a 5 gallon barrel does get more surface area contact than one bbl gets in a one bbl barrel. But an 8 or 10" spiral shouldn't have as much surface area as a barrel. Try to get the mental image... if a spiral was made of rubber so you could untwist it flat, it would be about the surface area of two barrel staves. Two because both sides are touching beer. So, maybe 1/10th the surface area of a 5 gallon barrel? Plus, unless you are using a bucket or something porous, it wont have the oxygen seep that a barrel has. Also, oak in brett beers is different than oak in sacc beers. Sacc beers get oak flavors from the oak, but brett actually consumes and translates the flavors of the oak, to some degree anyway. Personally, I'm not trying to get wood flavor in my sour beer, but for lack of a better term, complexity of flavors, meshing of flavors, harmonization of flavors.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 07:46:57 PM by klickitat jim »