Saturday, September 24, 2011

American Lambic: Update

With my second Lambic out of primary and into secondary I wanted to share my thoughts. 

First Brewing: (Right) It turned out a light shade of yellowish red, probably from scorching the malt extract a bit. I fermented it out with the ardennes strain to give it a hint of Belgian esters before I let the microbes do their work on the remaining sugars. When I transferred it to secondary I tasted the fermented wort. It was bready, with high esters and phenols from the Belgian strain. It was unmistakably complex in that Belgian sense. My girlfriend tried it as well, she was sad I was going to 'ruin' it with sour bugs. 

Second Brewing: (Left) turned out a bit lighter, I did not taste this batch because I was in a hurry, everything looks like it is going well as of 9/18/10. The oak is somewhere on the bottom now as it had become waterlogged and sank from sight, hopefully it's imparting oaky flavors and absorbing bugs as you read this.

These brews were simple enough to do as extract brews. No special care was taken other than normal sanitation procedures when moving it into secondary. Oak Spirals were added after boiling it for 15 minutes to kill anything living on the surface of the oak. When the time came to secondary the souring agents were added from their wyeast pouches.

(read more after the break)

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
It is my intention to blend a portion of the three batches with fruit depending on the characteristics of the Lambics. This could come in the form of a blended Gueze, or a straight Lambic w/ fruit. I'd like to make a Kriek and/or a Framboise and have them on Keg. If I purchase a 3 gallon keg then that volume would be an option, but more likely this will be a one or the other thing. I desire to save a portion of one batch for a future blend and to see how it develops unmodified.

My Hope Would be a Break down like this: 
3 gallons (hopefully unblended) for aging
5 gallons Gueze blended to be tart but drinkable placed in a keg
5 gallons Gueze on Fruit (to be topped off with fresh Lambic when it's ready)

2 gallons left on a second fruit in a 3 gallon carboy, to be bottled.
15 gallons of American lambic ale ready between 2012 and 2013.

I'll plan to achieve this by sampling the 3 batches in the fall of 2012. My tasting group will take detailed notes and then take a guess at what will make a good Gueze. With this information we will attempt to blend a small glass of our Gueze from the remaining sample volumes, taste, and tweak. Once the Gueze is decided on It will be mixed and kegged. If 3 gallons of a single good tasting lambic is left over it will be siphoned off into a 3 gallon glass carboy destined to spend another year+ in solitude. If not the remainders of the batches will be blended and bulk aged after we mix another Gueze destined for fruit, then a smaller Gueze destined for a second fruit. If none of the lambics taste like we'd want to drink them unfruited, we'll probably fruit everything.

As mentioned my preferences would be for this to work out to be a Kriek(Keg) and a Framboise(bottled), but there is no way to tell at the onset exactly what flavors will develop in these brews. Master fermentors taste many barrels deciding what will eventually become a blend and hone their skills over years of brewing and tasting. I am not that awesome, but depending on the flavors of the beer, and the internets best guidance I'll figure something out.

Lambic 3 - I have committed to brewing a third Lambic style brew, but I am going to take a slightly different fermentation tactic. I am going to skip primary fermentation with the ardennes strain and just go right into Al B's Bugfarm 5 for 2011. I am also going to use a larger fermentor with this batch to keep more head space, hopefully allowing more acetic flavors to develop. I am also going to try to use a better bottle for this fermentation. I will keep all other details the same about the brews because I want to see how it develops as it goes.

East Coast Yeast
Al Buck runs East Coast Yeast, a small yeast outfit from new jersey. The yeast strains are sold exclusively through Solar Home Brew and are more difficult to get then it would be to drive to your LHBS(local home brew store), unless you happen to live in Princeton, New Jersey. I purchased two pitches of yeast from Solar Home Brew. I learned they were availible by signing up for their google list, I placed my order through gmail, and I paid with paypal. They shipped the yeast in an insulated box with an ice pack by USPS priority mail.

ECY01 BugFarm
A large complex blend of cultures to emulate sour beers such as lambic style ales. Over time displays a citrus sourness and large barnyard profile. Contains yeast (S. cerevisiae and S. fermentati), several Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. The BugFarm blend changes every year and can be added at any stage of fermentation. Now producing Bugfarm 5 for 2011 (includes a newcomers Brettanomyces nanus & naardenensis). Also, B. lambicus/Dekkera bruxellensis known to produce citric acid.

ECY02 Flemish Ale
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.

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