Friday, August 19, 2011

American Lambic: An Experiment in Lambicing

I am enjoying funky beers more and more, and I have been inspired by mike over at the mad fermentationist, and many others.

Things really turned for me earlier this year when I went to LA for The Bruery’s reserve society party. Patrick makes some fine beers, when I tried the oude tart I really began to enjoy funk; the oude tart with cherries was sublime. Then we found a bar in West Hollywood called The Surly Goat which had some Lost Abbey and Russian River sours on tap, this sold me. I had never experienced the depth of flavor, it was beer, fruit, tart, and subtly sour at the same time. This kicked off a sour run that has not stopped. 

My research for brewing this beer has been extensive: I’ve listened to the brewing network podcast, another great resource, read the info on BYO’s website, and read the mad fermentationist. Jamil pumped up a simple extract recipe that I had read at BYO. Steve Piatz wrote the recipe and explains why it works better than I could.

My take on it is doing 2 at once, and seeing what some of the different sour strains do so I can get a feeling for what I can make. In 12-18 months I might blend them into a gueze, or drink them straight or send them back to work fermenting fruit.

The Recipe
3 lbs Wheat Dry Extract (3.5 SRM)
3 lbs Golden Light Dry Extract (3.5 SRM)
4.00 oz Malto-Dextrine (Boil 90.0 mins)
4.00 oz Lambic Hops [0.00 %] - Boil 75.0 mi
1.0 pkg Belgian Ardennes (Wyeast Labs #3522)

Then aged with:

1.0 pkg Belgian Lambic Blend (Wyeast Labs #3278)
1.0   pkg Roselare Blend (Wyeast Labs #3763)
.5 oz light toast French oak spirals

The process is a simple extract brew, 5 gallons of bland beer, fermented out with the Belgian blend, then racked to secondary with the Lambic yeast. First up is the Roselare Blend because the satchel of it I bought was produced a while ago.  

Lambic Hops are another unique ingredient in this brew. Typically they are aged one to three years. The idea of this is that all of the aroma and acids have long since floated off leaving only preservative qualities. I didn’t have three years to wait to make a beer that takes 2 years to make. I bought a pound of Czech Saaz hops. I aged 8 oz(4 oz for each batch) in my oven for 4 hours at 175 The results? They came out dry and faded, with much less aroma then when they went in.

I can’t report on the results yet, but so far so good. I brewed the first batch on 8/5/11 and the second batch on 8/19/11.

The only remaining question is what to brew next? I’ll have a third generation Belgian yeast cake ready to go.

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