Sour Stout — Tasting

Sour Stout

I kegged this beer last week, and promptly ran out of gas and had to get a new cylinder.  This will get more carbonated in the near future, but I could not hold off any longer, and had to give it a try.  If you are interested in the recipe and process, you can find that here.

The idea behind this was born when I tried Madrugada Obscura from Jolly Pumpkin.  The dark fruit flavors from the brett and the sour tang worked beautifully with the roasted malts.  I had great success with ECY 02, their Flemish Red Blend which gives a terrific “cherry pie” aroma and taste.  Being a fan of cherry flavored stouts, it seemed like a natural combination.

Appearance:  Black, with just a hit of red at the edges.

Aroma: strong sour cherry notes, with cocoa, tobacco, coffee, some sweet malt, and brett lemony/grassy smells in the background.

Taste:  Bright fruity cherry notes, with a caramel taste in the middle, followed by the cleansing sour bite and a bit of bitterness from the roasted grains.  Mouthfeel is on the lighter side.

Critique:  I really like this beer.  The aroma is choke full of cherry goodness with out any actual cherries added to it.  The brett brings that lighter citrusy aroma at the tail end.  The mouthfeel was lighter then I expected, the sour seems to help lighten it and make it quite easy to drink.  The beer starts with just a bit of sweetness, then goes through a prickly sourness, and ends with a roasted note, which comes out more as the beer warms.  I am very happy with this, and will definitely go down this road again.  The bright cherry flavors of the ECY Flemish red blends wonderfully with the  roasted and dark caramel flavors.  If you like sours, and you like stouts, give this a try.

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Lambic #2 — Tasting Straight Unblended Lambic

Lambic #2

Well, I cracked open my first bottle of my Lambic #2.    This beer was made with East Coast Yeast’s Bug Farm.  All I can say is, what a difference the bugs make.  If you have not had a chance to try East Coast Yeast’s products for sours, please do.  I think they are far superior to what you get from Wyeast or White labs.

Tasting — Pours a straw yellow, hazy, faint bubbles on the glass, but very little carbonation.  The aroma is musty, with that traditional “horsey” smell with a sharp lemon tang.  No hops.  The beer is thin, very sour.  There is a sharp lemon/citrus taste, with some of the barnyard/grass and mineral notes.  It finishes with long tart bite.

Critique — This is much more what I had in mind when I made my first lambic.  Sharp, tart, complex, very refreshing.  I am very happy with the beer.  However, I am not happy with my carbonation.  Carbonation is going to add more of a bite, which this beer does not need, but it also gives you that perfume of the beer when you first smell it.  I don’t want a ton, but some noticeable fizz would be nice.  I bottled this, and it was dead flat, so I added more sugar then I usually do.  This time I pitched 1g of rehydrated champagne yeast per gallon of beer with 1 oz of dextrose per gallon, and all I got was very slight bubbles on the glass.  I am very happy with the beer, and am really looking forward to the other versions, but I am still drawing a blank on how to carbonate these.  Hopefully the wild bugs will do their job over the next few weeks to finish carbonating this beer.

Lambic #3 — Brew Day

Lambic #3 coming to a boil

I decided to start brewing a lambic every year around New Years.  Last year marked my second version of a lambic, and as the year came to a close, I prepared to brew my next batch.  I have very much enjoyed the tastings from my Lambic #2, so I decided to stick with the same basic recipe, and to repitch the culture.  However, one thing I did do differently was the mash.  Last time, I did a fairly elaborate mash with raw wheat that I had to0 gelatinize.  As this year I had family in town, and my wife was working on several projects in the kitchen, I knew I wanted this to be simpler, as I could not compete for space for long periods of time on the stove, so I went with flaked wheat, which is still raw wheat just pre-gelatinized by the process of manufacturing it, and did a simple infusion mash at high temps for 45 minutes to try to leave it very dextrinous and starchy.  I also pulled out 1/2 gallon of the thin mash about 15 minutes in, and quickly brought it to a boil to denature any enzymes, and added that to the kettle, to try to preserve starches for the bugs.  This was much quicker and simpler, and I hope to have similarly favorable result with this simpler technique.  A word on the hops, about 18 months ago, my local homebrew store had a bunch of low alpha french hops they were trying to get rid of, so I purchased about 6 oz, put them in a paper bag, and stuck them on a shelf in my basement.  My hop aging calculator had them down to about 1.5% alpha, so that is what I used.  I also used up pilsner malt I had left over from prior recipes.  Here is the recipe below:

4.00 lb       Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM)
3.25 lb       Pilsner — Best Malz (1.5 SRM)
3.00 lb       Pilsner — Briess (1.0 SRM)
2.00 oz       Aged Strisselsplat [1.50 %]  (60 min)     Hops         10.5 IBU
4.00 oz       Malto-Dextrine

A single infusion mash was done at 158F, and I pulled off 1/2 gallon as stated above 15 minutes in.  I also batch sparged with 175F water, to try to wash out as much of the starch and get some of the tannins from the grain.  I stirred this up quite a bit, and sparged quickly, so the wort was very cloudy, which is what I was looking for.  The maltodextrine and the hops were added at the start of the boil.  I ended up with 5.25 gallons with an OG of 1.050.  I cooled it off, and pitched in some slurry from Lambic #2.  It is already starting to ferment at less then 24 hours, so I doubt I will add any fresh saccharomyces to the mix.

Brew Day — Oud Bruin #2

I bottled my first version of an Oud Bruin not long ago.  I liked how it tasted going into the bottles so much, I decided to rebrew it.  I collected washings from the yeast cake from the carboy that held the first Oud Bruin for 16 months, washed them, and then used them as my yeast in this version.  The first beer was split in two for primary, with 3.5 gallons getting the bugs and some Safale 05, and 2.5 gallons getting  just Safale 05, then they were blended together to age.  Also, I tossed in some East Coast Yeast 02 washings I had left over from a different batch, and added some after about 13 months of aging, so this slurry should be a combination of all of those yeasts and bugs.  As this beer will likely take 12-18 months to finish fermenting, I will post the brewday information here, and updates as I move along in the process.

Oud Bruins are a relative of Flemish Reds, but generally are a bit bigger and maltier, with less oakiness.  Good commercial examples are Liefman’s Goudenband and de Dolle Oerbier.  These beers all have the lactic acidity, but generally don’t smack you over the head with it like a Flemish Red will.    Here is the recipe I used:

3.00 lb       Pilsner Malt Extract (2.5 SRM)            Dry Extract  21.34 %
4.00 lb       Munich Malt 10L (15.5 SRM)      Grain        28.45 %
4.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        28.45 %
1.00 lb       Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)                Grain        7.11 %
1.00 lb       Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM)                 Grain        7.11 %
0.50 lb       Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                  Grain        3.56 %
0.50 lb       Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        3.56 %
0.06 lb       Carafa I (337.0 SRM)                      Grain        0.43 %
0.75 oz       Williamette [4.50 %]  (60 min)            Hops         8.5 IBU
1.20 oz       Mt. Hood [4.60 %]  (60 min)               Hops         13.9 IBU
0.65 tsp      wyeast yeast nutrient (Boil 15.0 min)     Misc
4.00 oz       Malto-Dextrine (Boil 15.0 min)            Misc
Slurry from Oud Bruin #1, + 1 packet of Safale o5

It is basically the recipe I used for the first one, just changed the hops to reflect what I had on hand.  I was going to mash this at 156F for 45 minutes, but I screwed up, and it mashed at 152, so I let it go for 60 minutes.  This will give me a more fermentable wort, which is not ideal, but with the bugs going into the whole thing at the beginning, I am not too worried about it.  The OG on this is 1.075.  I am going to let this sit in primary the whole time.  It is currently in the mid 60’s F in my basement, a nice temperature to start off.  I will move the carboy to my furnace room for the winter, as the temps will drop to around 50F in January/February down there.

Worty goodness, and god bless Starsan

Oud Bruin #1

Oud Bruin #1

I have already plead my addiction to sour beers, and have continued down the rabbit hole.  I have 3 in bottles at this time, my first attempt at a lambic, a sour based off Bam Bier with Jolly Pumpkin dregs as the yeast/culture, and my first attempt at a Flemish red.  I decided next up was going to be an Oud Bruin.  Oud Bruins are like flemish reds, but they tend to be a bit bigger, and usually have less or no oak.  They are aged with similar cultures as a Flemish red, but without as much barrel or forde aging, you don’t tend to get that balsamic vinegar acetic taste like you do in many Flemish reds.  The very first pure sour beer I ever had, since I don’t count the fruity Lindeman’s, was an Oud Bruin,  Liefmann’s Goudenband.  Yeah, that was kinda like hitting a home run during your first at bat.  So, I decided to try to replicate the style.

As for the recipe, I think I formulated the base of the recipe from Jamil’s show, but it has been a while, so honestly, I don’t remember.   Anyway, the recipe is as follows:

3.00 lb       Pilsner Malt Extract (2.5 SRM)            Dry Extract  21.34 %
4.00 lb       Munich Malt, Dark –15.5L (15.5 SRM)      Grain        28.45 %
4.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        28.45 %
1.00 lb       Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)                Grain        7.11 %
1.00 lb       Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM)                 Grain        7.11 %
0.50 lb       Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                  Grain        3.56 %
0.50 lb       Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        3.56 %
0.06 lb       Carafa I (337.0 SRM)                      Grain        0.43 %
1.00 oz       Bramling Cross [6.00 %]  (60 min)         Hops         16.5 IBU
0.50 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (60 min)    Hops         6.9 IBU
4.00 oz       Malto-Dextrine (Boil 15.0 min)            Misc
1 Pkgs        Roeselare Belgian Blend (Wyeast Labs #3763)Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs        Safale (Fermentis #05)                    Yeast-Ale

The whole thing was infusion mashed at 158 for 45 minutes to try to get a very dextrinous beer, and then the extract and malto-dextrine were added in the boil.  The OG was 1.076, the FG was 1.014, and the ABV is 8.1% .  A few notes on this.  Oud Bruins and Flemish reds both undergo primary fermentation, then are racked over.  Oud Bruins are usually not put in barrels, instead being held in steel tanks.  This tends to keep down the acetic nature of the beer compared to Flemish Reds, and obviously no oak.  Also, I did want stronger malty notes on this, and have the Roeselare be more of a compliment then driving force.  However, I was not happy with the Flemish Red I made with the Roselare in secondary.  So I split my beer, and I fermented 3.5 gallons with half the Safale and all the Roeselare in the carboy this was going to age in, and then I fermented 2.5 gallons clean with the Safale, and racked that into the “bugged” carboy after it fermented with the clean yeast for 11 days.  This then sat, and sat, and sat for over 1 year.  I was going to bottle this at the 1 year mark, but it did not have the aroma or smell I wanted.  I was actually harvesting some slurry from a Flemish I had started with ECY 02, so I tossed some of that in, and let it sit another 4 months.  That really made a difference, the nose just blossomed.  I also was worried about bottling a sour above 1.010, but the SG had not changed in 6 months, so I figured it was time to let it go.

Tasting :  The appearance is a clear, reddish brown.  There is light carbonation, and the head quickly falls.  The nose at first has the bright sour cherry nose, followed by that classic “baryard.”  There  is some caramel and raisin as well.  I don’t get any acetic notes.  Very aromatic.  The first thing you taste is a bright burst of dark fruit, mostly cherry again, followed by some sweet malt, and then a lemony sour bite at the end.  There is very little bitterness preceived.  It coats the tongue nicely, has a slickness to it, and finishes with a sweet/tart tang.

Critique:  I hope I can reproduce this.  Hands down, my best sour to date.  Very complex, tons going on in the nose as well as on the palate.      I really enjoy the malt profile.  The sour is there, but not overpowering at all.  For a malty beer, it goes down very easily, not thick or heavy, and leaves a nice aftertaste on the tongue that plays off the slight pucker of the lactic acid.   I think we need to try this recipe again.

Sour Stout — Brewday!

I usually do write ups once I have the completed beer, but given the timeline for these sour/funky beers, I decided to start splitting the posts, one outlining the brewing, the second post will review the process after brew day to the final product.  A big part of this blog is for me to keep my own notes and records in a place where I can retrieve the information in case of a system failure.  I experienced that not long ago, and fortunately, I was able to save my Beersmith files, but I don’t want to risk that again.  This will help me stay more current.

Wort from the mash being sparged into the kettle

On that note, I am brewing a sour stout today.  I had a chance to try Madrugada Obscura from Jolly Pumpkin, and really dug the interplay of roasted notes with the brett/sour flavors.  Brettanomyces and sour notes in stouts were a typical part of the flavor profile of the old porters and stouts from England and Ireland.  So much so, Guinness still blends some pasteurized soured stout to their final product to give that tang.  I tried my hand at a sour mash for a stout, and I think it worked very well.  So this time, I am going to take it one step further.  I am going to brew a stout, and will primary it with Safale 04.  Once primary is finished, I am going to rack it over, and add some washings from a flemish red I just racked using East coast yeast 02 Flemish ale blend.  I hope this gives me some sour and funky flavors, without dominating the flavor profile.  Ok, on to the recipe.

10.00 lb      Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        68.97 %
2.00 lb       Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM)                  Grain        13.79 %
1.00 lb        Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal Malt (160.0 SRM)    Grain        6.90 %
1.00 lb       Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)                Grain        6.90 %
0.50 lb       Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)           Grain        3.45 %
1.00 oz       Magnum [15.00 %]  (60 min)                Hops         43.1 IBU
1.05 tbsp     PH 5.2 Stabilizer (Mash 60.0 min)         Misc
1 Pkgs        Flemish Ale (East Coast Yeast #02)        Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs        SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04)      Yeast-Ale

Simple infusion mash.  This was mashed starting at 158F in 4 gallons of water, and stirred every 10 minutes or so.  The temp drifted down to 152F over 60 minutes.      It was then vorlaufed into the brew kettle, and batch  sparged with 2 batches of 2.75 gallons of 168F water.  It looked like I was going to be a bit short on my volume to the kettle, so I added another 1/2 gallon of sparge water right from the HLT.  This then boiled for 60 minutes, and I used my immersion chiller to cool it down, and then into the fermentor.    I got 6 gallons of wort at 1.060 OG.  I left it alone for a few hours in my basement to let the temperature  equilibrate to the 70F ambient in the basement, and then I tossed in the rehydrated Safale 04.

Mmmmmhh, spent grain on compost yummy...who needs sheep?!

My dog seems to like brewdays as much as I do, at least, he likes to eat the spent grain in the compost bin.  I guess that rules out any hopped mashes for me.

UPDATE 2/3/12 — If you would like to see the tasting report, you can find it here.  The FG for this beer was 1.016 unchanged for several months before I decided to keg it.  This is an ABV of 5.74%.  The beer was kept in primary for 2 months, then racked and the washings from another batch made with ECY 02 was added.  This was allowed to sit for another 3.5 months, and then kegged.

Saison #3 — now with Brett!

Saison #3

I decided to continue my exploration of the Saison style, but this time, adding a touch o’funk.  Saisons are often innoculated/infected by brettanomyces, and the flavors they bring are considered appropriate for this style.  Orval probably best represents this, using brett to bottle condition their beers, it brings that earthy funkiness to the beer, without overpowering the rest of the flavors.  Fantome is also an excellent representation of this, but this beer has much more wildness going on.

As saisons tend to be very dry, fermented with highly attenuating yeast, they don’t leave too much food on which the slower brett can feast.  This tends to give you hints of the brett flavor, without overpowering the other ingredients.  Thus, I decided on this beer to not dryhop, as I wanted to see what the brett would do with the aroma.   To do this, I used East Coast Yeast #3, a strain of ECY that included their 3 strains from their Saison blend, but also includes a strain of Brett, I think from Fantome.  I wanted to get some floral/citrusy notes in this beer, as I knew I was going to be drinking most of it in August and September, when the weather is still bright and warm, and the flavors would be welcome and refreshing.  I have been playing with later hop additions and avoiding full boil hops recently, as I think it brings out the malt more, and smooths out the bitterness despite similar IBU’s.  I enjoy the citrusy notes of Centennial, so I decided to use those as the bittering hop, but at 30 minutes left in the boil.  To help boost the floral/spicy notes, I used Saaz and crystal to finish the beer, and I used honey to lighten the body, but add those floral notes to the beer.  Finally, I had some rye malt on hand, and thought the crispness of the rye would help with the overall impression of dryness with the beer, so the following recipe was born.  This was a 5.25 gal batch with was boiled 90 minutes.

8.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)             Grain        64.00 %
1.00 lb       Rye Malt (4.7 SRM)                        Grain        8.00 %
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        4.00 %
1.25 oz       Centennial — Farmhouse [10.10 %]  (30 minHops         30.2 IBU
1.00 oz       Crystal [4.30 %]  (10 min)                Hops         4.9 IBU
1.00 oz       Saaz Freshhops [3.80 %]  (1 min)          Hops         0.5 IBU
3.00 lb       Honey (1.0 SRM)                           Sugar        24.00 %
1 Pkgs        Farmhouse Brassiere with Brett (East CoastYeast-Ale

This was mashed at 152 for 60 minutes, single infusion.  I had a OG of 1.065, with a FG of 1.005, ABV of 7.7% with 35.6 IBU’s.  I only had 4.5 gallons going into the primary from the kettle, so I added .75 gallons of boiled water to the primary to dilute it to the OG above.  It went from OG to FG in less then 2 weeks, but I let it sit in primary for 1 month.  This was fermented at  76F using a Fermwrap and a Ranco controller for the first 2 weeks, then left to go to ambient (about 70F) afterwards.  It was bottled with 6.5 oz of corn sugar to shoot for 3.0 Vol of carbonation.

Taste:  pours a hazy orange, nicely carbonated.  The nose on beer has a lot going on.  It  has a spiciness from the hops combined with mango/citrus quality with a that moves more and more towards more of the “funky” grassy/horsey aroma of brettanomyces with some pepper at the back the longer it sits.  Tasting it, it has a crispness to the malt, I think from the rye, rounded out with some more tropical fruit and citrus notes with a nice bitterness and peppery bite at the end.  There is also some of the blue cheese funkiness in the back.  It is very dry, and very easy to drink.

Critique:  The funkiness of this beer is slowly coming out.   You definitely get some in the nose as it warms, and it is coming out more in the taste as well.  It has been fun to taste this, first out of the fermentor, and then into bottles and now.  The brett really develops as it ages.  I think in the future I may dry hop this a bit, or up the aroma hops.  I like the bitterness, and I wanted to not drown out the brett aroma with hops, but I am leaning toward a more hoppy saison on the nose as my preferred version.  I think the dry hop just blends wonderfully with the fruity aromas and taste of the yeast.   I am very eager to see what this tastes like in 6 months.