Monday, April 30, 2012

Mid Sized Batch Sour

I have noticed that major breweries who have a souring program have a good solid sour base beer. For example Crooked Stave has their petite sour which has been released as Pure Guava(0% Guava), Black Berry and Unflavored. Upland releases several lambics fruited with different fruit added to them. For a recent interview at Embrace The Funk, Jackie O's head brewer Adam Ebe revealed he uses their raspberry wheat as a base for sours.

I want to develop a good base sour, something that will sour up and yield a good balance of sour and funk.

(read more after the break.)

My personal house sour is culture is going to be a mix of Jolly Pumpkin Dregs and Fermentis T-58 Dry Ale Yeast. Last week I drank a delicious Biere De Mars from Jolly Pumpkin, The sourness and overall flavor were very reminiscent of Consecration by Russian River. This should give me a nice tart sourness and nice leather/fruit flavors. I've added my sour starter to a batch of simple wort that will be a touch golden and a little malty. I'm brewing and fermenting three gallons on oak cubes and then after the farmers market opens in the summer to blend the sour onto some fruits or with some spices.

In the summer time it gets hot in my apartment too hot to ferment beer with normal ale yeasts. So my options will be to make lagers in my mini fridge, saisons(some strains like the heat), or sour beers. So I am going to be making a few sours and saisons as the summer progresses until I save my pennies for a Johnson Controller for my mini fridge.

Culturing Sour Dregs:

This is nearly as easy as making a starter. You open and enjoy a bottle of your favorite non pasteurized sour beer. A beer like La Folie from New Belgium tastes good but they've started pasteurizing them so you won't be able to borrow their flavor. Mike from the Mad Fermentationist has a good list of what beers contain what critters. After you've enjoyed a beer with fresh dregs, go ahead and add your microbes to a half strength starter. Because the dregs may be less than full strength you're going to want to make a half strength starter. 50 grams per 1 liter will do. I shake these even though I have a stir plate because I don't want the aceto bacteria to overwhelm the other microbes.

The Base Beer:

Recipe Specifications:
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 6.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 5.3 IBUs

2 lbs 4.0 oz Wheat - White Malt (Briess) (2.3 SRM) 40.0 %
1 lbs 4.0 oz Vienna Malt (Briess) (3.5 SRM) 22.2 %
1 lbs Munich (Dingemans) (5.5 SRM) 17.8 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) 17.8 %
2.0 oz Caramunich II (Weyermann) (63.0 SRM) 2.2 %
0.20 oz Pacific Hallertauer [4.00 %] - Boil 60 5.3 IBUs
House Sour Culture (DEH #1) [1 L]

Mash Schedule:
Protein Rest Add 10 qt of water at 118 F 113 F 30 min
Saccharification heat water to 152 F 60 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 7 min 168.0 F 10 min

Brew Day:
I did a protein rest for the first time because I used unmodified oats in the mash. I also used pellet hops and blanked on using the hop bag. The result was some lost wort to the because I didn't want to suck up the hops. I easily got the wort into one of the three gallon carboys. I got these from my girl(thanks again!) for Christmas. It was nice not to have to buy a fermentor for another sour beer. It's not the 20 dollar cost of another fermentor it's the storage space. I also called an audible and used a dozen or so oak cubes that had been soaking in rum for a while. If I get even a hint of rum from this I'll be happy. I'm excited to see how this expreriment turns out.


  1. Don,
    I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to find your blog. We have crazy similar tastes: saisons, sours and then creative strong beers.

    I now have a couple hours of good reading. I'm adding you to my blog feed. Any way you can turn on your blogger followers gadget. I like the way that blogger displays those feeds more than through an RSS feed.

    Also not sure if you are interested, but I would really like to do a beer swap.

  2. Hey, Thanks for the positive feedback, I would be interested in swapping beers towards the end of the summer, this month will be hectic with holidays and Iron Brewer. I am going to taste and fruit the midsized batch001 of my house sour beer in the next 2 days before the fourth as well as bottle up a few beers. Not many of my sours are ready and some of my saisons(the hoppy ones) were better fresh, but I should have some beers to trade by the end of the summer, I am brewing a Brett Clusterianus Ipa soon, that could be interesting. Anyways if you're interested in setting up a swap for later let me know :)

    1. Ok, just send me an email when you want to trade a few.
      Jeffrey.E.Crane at

      And I know a few people trying the 100% Brett IPAs. Mine was more of a ESB but with an ounce of Nelson dry-hopped. 2 months later and the hops are still popping.