Author Topic: Sour ale tips  (Read 5186 times)

Offline astrivian

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Sour ale tips
« on: May 22, 2011, 04:19:27 PM »
I was going to try my hand at a sour ale but i am not sure how to do it.

First of all, to you ferment it just like a "regular" beer? I heard somewhere that you add the sour stuff (the bacteria, i know what they are but can't remember, two types right?) after the regular fermentation is done. So does that mean i need two vials of yeast? One for the "regular" fermentation and one for the sour?

Also, is there anything different with the mash or boil for sours?

Thanks!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2011, 06:59:21 PM »
"Sour" can mean a lot of different things and there are a lot of ways to do it.  You don't have to wait, you can add the bugs and/or brett with the saccharomyces.  Or you can add it later.  You can but don't have to mash differently.  You can but don't have to skip the boil altogether.  It really depends on what you are trying to make.  Do you have a particular style or commercial example in mind?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline astrivian

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 08:52:40 PM »
Well no really, i have no idea what i am doing. What i was going to do is try to make a sour ale "dry-hopped" with rose petals. The style of beer would be similar to a triple or golden ale (high gravity, like 10%). Mash, boil, etc. like normal then add about 1/2 a pound of freshly picked red rose petals to the primary.

In terms of what i have liked, i am down with the Lips of Faith's Eriks Ale, New Belgium's LaFolie, and a cherry lambic from some Belgian brewer that was FANTASTIC. Some odd name. (not helpful i know sorry).
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Offline beer_crafter

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 12:18:07 AM »
Step 1: Read "Wild Beers" by Jeff Sparrow.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 12:34:54 AM »
I recommend reading up on wild beers as wahoo suggested. I also suggest trying some commercial examples in order to target a particular flavor profile . There are many variations of sour beers and having a target will enable you to craft an appropriate recipe and develop a process.
Ron Price

Offline astrivian

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 02:55:05 AM »
Will do on both thanks.

When tasting other sours, are there any particular things i should taste for or is it just what i find pleasing?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 04:22:33 AM »
Figure out what beers you like, and then figure out what they have in common.  That will help.

You can also try reading the Mad Fermentationist blog, there is some good info there from his experiments.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2011, 07:18:12 AM »
First of all, do you ferment it just like a "regular" beer?

Depending on the style, yes and no. If you're using certain souring bugs, or are trying to replicate certain traditional fermentation techniques, you might have to do things differently. For simple lactic or brett cultures, not so much. This is an advanced topic, so there's not a single simple answer.

Also, is there anything different with the mash or boil for sours?

Again, yes and no. Some sour styles have very unusual traditional mashing techniques, but there's no reason you have to follow them when making your own sour beers.
 
Before you commit to brewing 5+ gallons of sour beer, though, you need to do more research.

Try good commercial examples of the various sour beers (http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style17.php) to discover sour beer styles you like.

Experiment by adding vinegar, lactic acid, lemon juice or other acids (e.g., malic or citric acid) to your finished beer. This will give you a sense of what type and level of sourness you like. You might find that traditional sour beers aren't to your liking and you're perfectly happy adding a bit of fruit juice to your glass of beer.

If you do decide to brew a sour beer, you can cheat by adding food-grade lactic acid to your brew or mash using acidified malt (sauermaltz) in order to get lactic sourness.

If you decide to actually inoculate your beer with microflora, you'll need more equipment. To avoid cross contamination, you'll want to keep soft plastic items use on the cold side when brewing sour beers separate from similar equipment used for regular beers.

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2011, 07:33:35 AM »
When tasting other sours, are there any particular things i should taste for or is it just what i find pleasing?

Obviously, what you find pleasing is most important, unless you're "brewing to style" or are trying to replicate a particular commercial beer. Even then, why brew something you don't like?

Of the sour beers listed in the BJCP guidelines, probably Berlinerweisse is most approachable. It will have a clean, crisp, tart yogurt-like sourness, although some aged versions might have a bit of "leathery" or "horsey" brettanomyces character.

Flanders brown ale (Old Bruin) is also a good introduction to sour beer since it's got an interesting "sweet and sour" profile. It will mostly have lactic tartness, but some versions have a bit of acetic (vinegar) aroma and flavor.

The Belgian lambics can be very intense, with lots of sourness and lots of other odd aromas and flavors due to wild fermentation. Many people don't like them because they're so different. In the U.S. they can also be rather expensive, so not an everyday drink.

For specialty sour beers (the sort that the BJCP slots into the "Belgian Specialty," Fruit beer or Specialty categories), you might appreciate the Lindeman's or Samuel Smith sour fruit beers, or sour fruit beers such as New Glarus Raspberry Tart or Dogfish Head Festina Peche.

Offline astrivian

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2011, 02:28:35 PM »
Thanks to both of you. Clearly i need more research in this area. I will do with both of you suggest and start tasting some more sours to see what i like. I have that book saved in my amazon wish list, and when i get the cash i will buy it (along with How to Brew).

Oh, and you are right on the 5 gallon batch. What i was going to do is brew a 1 gallon test batch first. I do this with my more experimental beers. So far it has been good practice: None of them have turned out well :)

Thanks for the tip on the plastic as well. I had heard that before but forgot.

What i was thinking of using, just because i know it is at my LHBS, is the Belgian Lambic Blend (3278) from Wyeast. Maybe i could just brew a test batch with that and see how it turns out? Then i can taste other sours and get an idea of what mine is lacking and how to improve it.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2011, 03:53:48 PM »
Join a club locally too, and see if anyone is making sours.  Trying their versions and knowing their process can help you decide what to do.  A test batch with 3278 is a good idea, but some of these beers take a long time to mature so it might not taste that great right away.  Patience is important with sour beers.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline nofunsally

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2011, 04:03:40 PM »
Hello,

I like sour beer.  My first introduction were the sweet fruit "lambics" from New Glarus and then their Berliner Weisse.  The first sour beer I brewed was a Berliner Weisse, which is a straight up "sour beer" its lactobacillus and beer yeast.  I think it is an easy sour beer to brew and doesn't require the time needed for other beers that might be better described as 'wild'.  I've made this a few times and always pitch a pure culture of lactobacillus.

I then brewed a Kentucky Common which is pre-prohibition American ale style that is also a quick one.  I had never tried one before brewing, but those at my brew club who had thought it was close to 'style.'  I loosely followed the recipe here: http://www.ipass.net/mpdixon/Homebrew/Kentucky%20Common.htm I did this with a partial sour mash: http://yeastandapples.blogspot.com/2010/02/freaking-funk-my-first-homebrew-sour.html

One of my favorite 'wild' styles is Flanders Red and I brewed a batch in February 2009 and again in February 2010 and 2011.  After only a year it was still lacking the magic. After a year and half (2009 batch) it was getting good and I put half on sour cherries and its delicious. I waited another 6 months and blended some of the 2009 and 2010 (2/3 2 yr old and 1/3 1 yr old). It tastes really nice.  For this beer time is key. Increased temperature can accelerate the funk (when using a lambic or sour mix yeast), but it will be different than the long moderate temperature fermentation. I keep them at my ambient basement temperature (Chicagoland).

Wild Brews is a great book, but it might seem a little much at first and IMHO you'll like reading it better after you have a chance to try some more sour or wild beers.  This website is also helpful: http://www2.parc.com/emdl/members/apte/flemishredale.shtml

Cheers,
Mike

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2011, 04:21:23 PM »
If you use one of the commercial lambic blends (Roeselare WY3763 or lambic blend WY3278) they already have a blend of regular yeasts, Brett and lactic acid bacteria for souring.  If you pitch this to a regular wort, in two months you'll have a nice lightly soured beer.  After that it can get less pleasant as the various bugs kick in and do their thing, and you'll need to wait a year or so until it really develops the funk and flavor of a lambic style brew.

I've also done a sour mash where I'll leave it sit in the mashtun overnight or even for 48 hours.  It starts smelling real funky, but when you drain and boil the wort it comes out with a nice light sourness.  Or you can not boil at all and it will get even more sour.
Lennie
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Offline 1vertical

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 01:58:21 PM »
Then there is the Babble Belt and that is a site with some reading that is relavent.
http://www.babblebelt.com/newboard/forum.html?tid=1108752780&pg=1
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Offline afacini

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Re: Sour ale tips
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 02:51:47 PM »
I'd say try out a Berliner weisse if you want to try out a sour ale for the first time. It's very straightforward, easy to tweak, and a rarity among popular beer styles today, which of course makes you cool.

With that said, there's no shame in trying out 88% lactic acid at rack. I've made (and re-made a few times) a very good B-weisse using this method. Going this route over culturing wild lacto or pitching pre-packaged lacto avoids the potential issues of fermenter contamination (you don't always want a sour beer!) and/or unpredictable and reduced fermentation.

Best of luck.