My mostest-awesomest brother-in-law Orest introduced me to sour beers a year or two ago, and I’ve been pretty obsessed with them ever since… or shall I call it a growing obsession. I’m lucky enough to have a bar just 10 minutes away that always has a sour on tap, and yesterday I was lucky enough to grab a draft of Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura–as we now say, that beer definitely has a “wow” factor!
Anyway, since I started homebrewing recently, I’ve wanted to get a sour “pipeline” going. The reason you need a pipeline is because it can take 1 year or more for these types of beers to develop, so the pipeline approach is to brew 2-4ish beers per year so that at least one of them has aged enough to drink. (Of course, I had the same thing in mind when I was making mead 8 years ago. That didn’t pan out so well. But at least one of those meads is drinking well right now.)
I’ve been doing some reading on Lambics, and I definitely have much more to learn. Often, lambics are blended, older, more sour versions are blended with younger vintages to achieve a nice, balanced sourness. And some say that “turbid” mashes are necessary, but I just can’t be bothered with that right now.
The other thing to read up on is the mix of “bugs” that go into sour making… not just saccharomyces (typical brewer’s yeast) but also brettanomyces varieties, as well as lactobacillus and pediococcus bacteria, which produce lactic acid (the sour). I stocked up on two packages of Wyeast Belgian Lambic Blend (#3278), but it turns out they were almost a year old and therefore too risky to use on their own. I totally lucked out and got my hands on a vial of East Coast Yeast ECY02, which is labeled as a Flemish Ale yeast. It too contains at least all of the yeast and bacterial species mentioned above, but not necessarily the same exact ones. Close enough for me.
Boil Size: 11.81 gal
Post Boil Volume: 10.61 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.00 gal
OG: 1.051 SG
15 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel
4 lbs Wheat, Flaked
0.50 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min
Mash @ about 156 for 60 minutes. Fly sparge 170 degree water until 11.75 gallons collected.
Intended to use Willamette but could not locate it. Used Nugget instead, which led to a higher IBU than I had originally intended.
Had two activator packs of Wyeast 3278 Lambic blend, however they were both fairly old (5/2012 and 6/2012). Got ECY Flemish Ale to compensate for the old Wyeast.
– “A unique blend of Saccharomyces, Brett, lacto & Pedio perfect for flemish reds and sour browns. Dry, sour, leathery and notes of cherry stone. Designed for 5 gallon pitch, but may be added at any stage of fermentation.”
Chilled wort was split into two 6 gal carboys. Carboy 1 received both packs of Wyeast and 50 ml of ECY02. Carboy 2 received 75 ml of ECY02.
Update 3/31. Small krausen forming on both fermentors, with airlock activity. Cellar temp around 61. Lag time about 36 hours.