Tuesday, November 26, 2013

American Lambic Style Ale 2013

Pale Wort
After the failure that was my lambic tasting I have decided to modify things slightly. First I will only be using all grain batches, secondly I will be doing primary fermentation with the bugs, and third I will be using the more complex malt bill to feed the bugs. So The malt bill will be pale malt, wheat malt, oats and dextrin malts.

Why that malt bill? It's traditional historic, everything adds something and I am trying to give those bugs a lot of food to do something; something more than nothing. Oats allegedly add mouth feel even after the beer microbes have had their fill, wheat and pale malt are also very traditional.

(Read more after the break to find out what my secret weapon is this time.)

So I'm not changing much but I expect it to be better? Hops aged the right way. In a brown paper bag on my shelf. They've sat quietly aging and changing for around two years now. It's amazing that it has been that long already. What difference does it make? I have no idea. I know the oven prepared hops smell a touch crisp when they are done and these hops shouldn't have that.

This mash will be a stepped infusion mash lasting 2 hours. When I used a similar turbid mash the beer was very starchy. Despite doubling my brew time I feel like it was worth it.

Also making a comeback here is the slurry of yeast from my sanctification clone. If you'll remember(if you read it) this started out as ECY brett blend 9 to which I added ECY bug farm 5. This created a complex sour ale that was fairly good with white peach. I took the rest of the batch and added it to cherries I bought this summer straight from the orchard and about as ripe as you can get. I saved some of the slurry and re pitched it in a starter. I believe some things were still alive because the starter foamed after a day or two and looked like a normal starter. I can't say enough good things about the way that batch turned out. In comparison to the others it was fresh, grassy, grainy, and tart. I'll really hoping that this turns out and I can keep using this sample of yeast and microbes.


5 lbs Canadian Pilsner (2.0 SRM) 43.5 % Down 1 lbs
2 lbs Wheat, White Malt (1.6 SRM) 17.4 % Split into two types
2 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) 17.4 % Split from other wheat malt
2 lbs Flaked Oats (1.0 SRM) 17.4 % Up 1 lbs
8 oz Carapils (3.0 SRM) 4.3 % New
3.0 oz Lambic Hops [0.00 %] - Boil 90.0 min 0.0 IBUs
A re-pitch of a successful sour culture restarted from an old vial.

Name      Description                      Temp    Time     
Mash In   Add 4.30 qt of water at 135.1 F/ 113.0 F 25 min        
Mash Step Add 2.33 qt of water at 209.9 F/ 138.0 F 5 min         
Mash Step Add 1.80 qt of water at 210.6 F/ 150.0 F 30 min        
Mash Step Add 2.69 qt of water at 211.1 F/ 162.0 F 20 min        
Mash Step Add 1.90 qt of water at 211.5 F/ 168.0 F 20 min  
Sparge: Batch sparge with 1 steps (5.10 gal) of 168.0 F water

The mash was slow, and that made it go super slow in the early going. Brewing outside when it's cold is also a challenge. You can escape the cold by ignoring your brew but why bother brewing then. No the solutions as always is to belly up to the bar and take your medicine. Brrr. The boil went fine and as I type this the chiller is turning my driveway into a sheet of ice. I'll report again if this doesn't start fermenting in a week or so. (I give microbes and brett more time before I panic)


  1. Curious as to what you mean when you say that this is a "traditional" malt bill? Traditional for some American brewers? Belgian lambic is traditionally ~65% Pilsen malt and ~35% unmalted wheat.

    One other thing about the aged hops. A lot of sources talk about using large amounts of aged hops to impart some preservative qualities without bitterness. While this is surely true, I think this overlooks the flavor contributions of these hop additions. I've come to the conclusion that the cheesy/grassy bite of something like a Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze may be unattainable without the large addition of aged hops.


  2. Luke,

    Perhaps a better chosen word would be historic? http://lambicandwildale.com/2012/03/17/ordonnantie-van-1560/ This has a Lambic ordinance specifying the recipe to be 16 'grazers' some barley, some wheat, and some oat/wheat. Based on that I decided to go older with my recipe than the more traditional recipes that are as you've stated pilsen and unmalted wheat.

    I agree with you that the aged hops are probably the some of the flavor, I found the oven toasted hops smelled a bit burned despite the low temps used. These hops aged 2 years had none of that and still had a bit of the saaz that they started as. My starter smelled like old cheese and funk when I dumped it and the cake of microbes had a distinct snotty texture as I poured it from the flask it had started in. Here is hoping that this lambic works out and is a good addition to my gueuze.

    Cheers! - Don