Author Topic: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!  (Read 1067 times)

Offline TANSTAAFB

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I posted this on HBT and figured the more input the better! This is me (the ugly one ), my buddy Michael, and his lovely wife Mary at Crooked Stave in Denver. I just met Mary today and found out they already eloped to the courthouse! Mary is a wonderful and beautiful person and I'm thrilled he found a great friend and partner, he deserves it!

They are planning a big party sometime this summer to fall, and I'd love to have an awesome beer to share with them to celebrate. I turned Michael on to sours a couple of years ago, and now it's pretty much all he drinks if it's not a night for the hard stuff! He had given up on beer because it gave him horrible headaches. He's in Ft. Collins now...sour beervana! His tastes tend towards the more acidic. Duchesse de Bourgogne is one of his all time favorites. He also LOVES lambics and krieks that are done well.
So here's the challenge. Please give me the benefit of your experience to brew a great sour in 5 months or so. Even if it's not as good as it could be at that time, I want something that I could Cork and cage that will continue to age in the bottle that I can give it to them as a wedding gift they can enjoy over the years.
I have brewed several Brett Saisons but never a truly sour beer. A one year old Brett I made was actually Michael's induction into the world of sours and wild beers! I have read a lot and have several books I will go back through for info. I'm in a homebrew club and live in an area with a lot of vineyards and a few breweries. I'd love to score a wine barrel but other than that I don't have a plan. I do induction BIAB in a 20 gallon kettle and I have lots of carboys and some space.  I'm even thinking of trying several things and seeing what works out the best. What'd'y'all think?
   

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Offline Stevie

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You can’t fit a great sour into a timeline. Look into kettle sours and brew it close to the wedding.

Offline klickitat jim

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You can’t fit a great sour into a timeline. Look into kettle sours and brew it close to the wedding.
What I was thinking

Offline TANSTAAFB

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I get that, and...
I know you can't rush a sour. I also know that a lot can happen in 5-9 months. And I'm looking to do something that might not be perfect at that timeframe but will continue to develop in the bottle. I don't want to do a kettle sour.

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Offline Stevie

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Best chances will be with a good fresh pitch of a sour culture. Do you have access to a sour brewery that would let you pull some slurry?

Offline TANSTAAFB

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I actually had a HBT member offer to send me slurry of his 2 year old lambic culture!

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Offline TANSTAAFB

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There are obviously a lot of ways to approach this but I'm curious as to everyone's opinions re: fermentation process and vessel. Here's what I can think of, please add anything I might have missed and tell me what methods you prefer and why...

1) primary in glass with sacch (favorite strain for this anyone) and then pitch bugs a little later
2) primary in glass with the bug pitch and let it ride
3) transfer either of those options to a barrel or use a spiral or stave or chips or something
4) primary in the barrel with sacch then pitch bugs
5) primary in the barrel with the bugs and let it ride
6) pitch everything at the same time in either glass or barrel--bugs, brett, & sacch

What's your process?

I want to find a wine barrel but not sure what the pros/ cons are of fermenting in the barrel vs primary in glass and transfer. I plan on doing a solera with the barrel and keep it going with dregs from sour and Brett beers I like after pitching the bugs the cat on HBT is sending me!

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Offline Stevie

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I would keep it simple and pitch the culture as is and let it ride. Bottle when stable across two readings two months apart. Don’t bother with a barrel for your first go. They are too temperamental.

Offline Stevie

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Also, if you go with a small barrel, look into waxing it. Small barrels have too much wort to wood surface area and beer will oxidize much faster. A 5 gallon barrel has more than twice the surface area to volume ratio compared to a 53 gallon. I’ve seen people that wax the entire barrel except for the heads, others leave a few staves natural.

Offline TANSTAAFB

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15gal is the smallest I would go and I'm not ready for a big 50gallon. I was listening to The Sour Hour and they were talking to the guy from Funkwerks in Ft Collins (LOOOOVE they're stuff) and was talking about how on a Homebrew scale a glass carboy with an airlock let's about as much O2 in as a big barrel. I still want to do a barrel Solera but I'm really considering brewing 4 or 5 different recipes and using oak spirals or something to get the wood aged character. That way all my sours aren't in one barrel so to speak!

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Offline JT

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Re: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2018, 02:15:57 AM »
You can absolutely do a great sour in that time frame.  Now, are you sold on using a souring bug like pediococcus?  Would you be interested in a sour with lactobacillus/sacc only?  You could easily do a Berliner Weisse - I brewed a recipe that was aged on tart cherries that guests were wild for, including those that didn't know beer came in "sour." 
My next brew of this beer was going to include some French Oak spirals. 

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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2018, 02:29:16 AM »


You can absolutely do a great sour in that time frame.  Now, are you sold on using a souring bug like pediococcus?  Would you be interested in a sour with lactobacillus/sacc only?  You could easily do a Berliner Weisse - I brewed a recipe that was aged on tart cherries that guests were wild for, including those that didn't know beer came in "sour." 
My next brew of this beer was going to include some French Oak spirals. 

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

Now that I'm leaning towards doing a few different batches I would love to get your recipe. I think I'll go all out with the bugs on one and I'm thinking an American Flandersesque and then a few others that take different approaches. And I think a Berliner would be a nice, simple refreshing beer. Might even split that batch and do one on cherries. I also want to do a Kriek inspired batch, probably a golden sour (maybe with some wine grapes. That Crooked Stave Member Berries was amazing!), and maybe a kettle soured saison or some riff on that. And I love subtle Brett flavors as well.
If I don't go the barrel route I need to figure out whether I want to do oak spirals, staves, honeycomb, or cubes. Any preferences?

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Offline JT

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Re: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2018, 02:31:54 AM »


You can absolutely do a great sour in that time frame.  Now, are you sold on using a souring bug like pediococcus?  Would you be interested in a sour with lactobacillus/sacc only?  You could easily do a Berliner Weisse - I brewed a recipe that was aged on tart cherries that guests were wild for, including those that didn't know beer came in "sour." 
My next brew of this beer was going to include some French Oak spirals. 

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

Now that I'm leaning towards doing a few different batches I would love to get your recipe. I think I'll go all out with the bugs on one and I'm thinking an American Flandersesque and then a few others that take different approaches. And I think a Berliner would be a nice, simple refreshing beer. Might even split that batch and do one on cherries. I also want to do a Kriek inspired batch, probably a golden sour (maybe with some wine grapes. That Crooked Stave Member Berries was amazing!), and maybe a kettle soured saison or some riff on that. And I love subtle Brett flavors as well.
If I don't go the barrel route I need to figure out whether I want to do oak spirals, staves, honeycomb, or cubes. Any preferences?

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I've only used chips and spirals, stay away from chips.

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."


Offline JT

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Re: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2018, 02:55:35 AM »
It's an easy beer to make. 
60% German pils
40% wheat malt
Looking for a mid-low 30s OG
Mash at 150 (or your preference).
I'd leave out the hops.  If you're a purist, drop half of a single pellet in the boil. 
You can pre acidify wort to 4.6 if botulism worries you, I didn't. 
Pitch a starter of Lactobacillus ( I used 5335).  This strain is hop sensitive, it stalled in a beer at 6 IBUs....

After acidity drops, pitch WY1007 - strain is low pH tolerant. 
Rack on to tart cherries (1-2 lbs per gallon, personal preference).  I will use 2 my next batch.  I plan on tossing in a French oak spiral next batch too.  Age 30 days. 
Hot weather thirst quencher. 

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."


Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Help me brew a phenomenal sour to celebrate my sour loving buddy's wedding!
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2018, 03:25:35 AM »
I just talked to the president of our homebrew club and he said they just tapped a beer they made with a culture they've been building up for a couple of years from a Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett brew. He's also a microbiologist, so he's a great resource. And he said I can have some of that zoo as well as some funky stuff they haven't even played with yet! I'll go try the beer and pick his brain this week and then we have a club meeting on Thursday. I'm getting pretty psyched about this!

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