Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lambic Tasting and American Kriek 2013 Blend

So I finally got around to sampling the Lambics that I've made over the past two years and it was a humbling experience. I thought that I would have some tasty tart beers that were good enough to drink on their own and would blend together to form a magical concoction that I could ride to a home brew competition winner. Wrong. Two of the older lambics were undrinkable. They had an industrial solvent flavor to them. I can't imagine blending these to create anything other than paint thinner. To say that after 2 years of waiting this was devastating is a bit of an understatement. Some of the others were drinkable and I will blend bottle and age them in an attempt to get this going. 

(Please read more after the break to see what tasted okay, what I liked, and how the American Kriek came to be.)

So some of my sour blond beers were drinkable. Specifically the ones that I did not ferment out with Ardennes before adding the bug blends. The different bug blends were fairly similar to each other contributing slightly different flavors to the blends.

Ardennes, Wyeast Lambic - Paint thinner would be a complement, might dump.

Ardennes, Wyeast Roselair - Solvent, some peppery phenolics, some sourness.

Bugfarm V - The second best lambic, Alright sourness, not much solvent, a bit of balanced funk. It was like a three out of ten in intensity.

Bugfarm VI, Turbid Mash - The best true lambic, mildly peppery and phenolic, nice sourness, not overpowering.

Bugsfarm VI, Extract - Blandish, nothing offensive, kind of nuetral. Some sourness, but blah.

Sanctification Clone - Still the best sour I have made the flavors were still improving. Acidic, funky. It had a nice bite without being to fierce.

Disappointment, I had 5 lambics, 25 gallons of beer but I wasn't satisfied with it. I'll continue to brew lambics but I think from now on I will only use turbid mashes and attempt to get more dextrins into the wort until I hit the sourness I want. I shall overcome.

American Kriek 2013
So I went cherry picking on American Independence Day at Gavin Orchards in Coopersville, MI. I picked fourteen pounds of fresh from the tree extremely ripe sour cherries. These cherries packed the favor in. Where as a normal red or black cherry has little flavor other than a vague notion of cherry and some sweetness this is like a tart punch in the mouth. Each one has that sour patch kids puckering quality. Behind that pucking tartness is the best cherry flavor you've probably ever had. That's why these cherries are combined with sugar to make cherry pies. In the old world the best kriek lambics are made with schaerbeekse cherries. These 'wild' cherries are bright, red, and mildly sour. They are not as sour as American sour cherries by all accounts and are sought after by many traditional brewers in Europe for their premium kriek lambics.

I washed, dried, and macerated all fourteen pounds of cherries before adding it to a fresh six gallon better bottle. This was a lot of fruit. I then used the remainder of my Russian River sanctification clone and siphoned it onto the fresh cherries. Fermentation kicked up right away and after 24 hours the beer was a bright red color like the cherries. After it ferments out over the next few months I'll take a sample and decide whether I want to blend it or not. At almost 5 lb /gal it should be very cherry and be prime to have some other beers blended into it to get the flavor right. This photo was taken after I agitated it the layer of beer in the middle. It is actually much of a much greater volume than that picture would lead you to believe.

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