Archive for the ‘sour’ Category

>Sour #3 (Cheater Berliner Weisse) Recipe & Tasting


As there are more and more commercial examples of Berliner Weisse becoming available in recent years (with one of the best – The Bruery’s Hottenroth Berliner Weisse – available very close to me), a homebrewer’s natural inclination is to try their hand at the style. With White Labs’ WLP630 Berliner Weisse Blend made available on the last round of Platinum Series releases, so doing a Small Batch was a no-brainer.

Coincidentally, my personal favorite homebrewing podcast, Basic Brewing Radio, did an episode on brewing Berliner Weisse about two months after I brewed mine. Naturally The Mad Fermentationist was on hand to go over his production method, a no-boil double decocted mash-hopped take on the style. I took a decidedly different route with mine, using a simple single infusion mash and 15 minute boil. Awesomely, I sent James Spencer an email about my take on it, and I got a mention on the 04-14-11 episode! Sweet! I definitely credit Mr. Spencer and BBR for a nice bump in my readership, so thanks so much!

2011-007 Sour #3 (Cheater Berliner Weisse)

Brewed: 01/26/11

Racked to secondary: 04/03/11

Kegged/Bottled: 04/27/11

Ready: 04/27/11

Batch Info


Batch Size: 2.5 Gallons

Extraction Efficiency: 77%

OG: 1.035

FG: 1.004

IBU: 4

SRM: 2.4

Boil Length: 15 minutes

Grain Bill


German Pilsner Malt: 1lb 12oz (54%)

US White Wheat Malt: 1lb 8oz (46%)

Hop Bill


German Hallertau Hersbrucker (3.8%AA): 14g @ 15 minutes



Irish Moss: 1 tsp @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes



Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water



White Labs WLP630 Berliner Weisse Blend

Mash Schedule


Sacch Rest: 156F for 90 minutes

Batch Sparge

Fermentation Schedule


Pitch @ 68F, freerise for 10 days



Quick Carb: 35psi, shake for 45 seconds



A quickie beer to test WLP630. Not too bad!



Appearance: Pale straw. About as light as you can get. One-finger soda-like head, with little staying power.

Aroma: Lemons and stone fruit. Perfumy. Pretty simple.

Taste: Lemons and fruit. Some grassy herbal character. A nice, mild tartness.

Mouthfeel: as dry as you would expect, bolstered by spritzy carbonation.

Thoughts: for being as simple as it was, not too dang bad! One of the few times I’m sad I didn’t make a full 5 gallons. Although I do have another vial….

Categories: German, recipe, sour, tasting, wheat

>The Great Sour Mix Experiment Brewday

>Along with the Flemish Blend, Saison Blends and Old Newark Ale, my recent purchase of vials of East Coast Yeast also included the now-mythic Bugfarm (my version being #5). Inspired by the experiments I’m always hearing about on Basic Brewing Radio and my recent order from Northern Brewer allowing me access to Wyeast, I decided to create an experiment that would allow me to answer a series of burning questions:

1. Of the commercially available Sour Mix cultures, which is the best?

2. How do the flavor profiles of said mixed cultures compare?

3. Can said cultures get as sour as commercial beers, as some have spoken of their lack of final acidity?

4. Is buying these sour mixes even necessary? Can one sour a beer effectively using brett & bacteria cultured from bottle dregs?

I love sour beer, as previously stated, and I want to be able to make the best sour beers I can; given the limited space and time I’m allowed, I’d rather not waste that time and space on a beer that will produce less-than-optimum results. I think this experiment will allow me to figure out what base cultures to start with from here on out, or at least which to use in what situation.

The experiment began, naturally, with the yeast (and bugs).
The cultures used were, left to right, Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend, White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix I, East Coast Yeast ECY01 BugFarm V, and my own sour dreg blend. My sour blend started as 500ml of 1.040 wort, to which I added dregs from a Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze, Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, Cantillon Gueuze, and Russian River Temptation (the extra volume in the starter was the liquid from said beers). I can say for a fact that this was by far the best tasting way to make a starter ever. EVER.

Having these cultures, I needed a simple recipe that would allow the differences in the cultures to shine through, and allow the bugs plenty of unfermentables to chew on over the long aging period. I went with a simple, mid gravity (1.053) wort, with 65% Pilsner malt, 15% Malted Wheat, 15% Flaked Wheat, and 5% Flaked Oats, bittered with enough Perle for about 15 IBUs. I figured this would be clean enough to not impose any malt flavor, while providing a good variety of proteins and long-chain sugars to feed the bugs over the long fermentation.

The brewday went off pretty much without a hitch, barring the extra long chilling process due to it being 95 outside that day, and the wicked sunburn I got by stupidly doing my brewing shirtless. For the brewday I used the 10 gallon system I inherited from my dad, splitting the final result into the four 3-gallon Better Bottles they will spend their long stay in. Any 10-gallon brewday is hectic for me, but it went well enough that I could snap a few photos:

Heating strike water in the bigass 15 gallon pot:

Mashing in:

My fancy-shmancy sparging setup (aka a board, kettle lid, and piece of aluminum foil):

My less-than-effective counterflow chiller, doing its job ludicrously slowly, even with the ground water pre-chiller:

The final product, pre-pitch. I was surprised by how even I was able to get the fill lines:

The four carboys, pitched and snug in their new home, with their other sour buddies:

Admittedly, there are a couple of caveats to this experiment that may effect the results:

1. Each of the sour blends were produced at a different time. The White Labs and my own mix were produced relatively close to each other, with the Wyeast being about a month old, and the Bugfarm being produced in January. Also, the Wyeast “smack pack” uses a yeast energizer in the package, which shortened the lag time. Ideally, each of the blends’ production dates should have been as close as possible to each other, but I worked with what I had, so I’m not too worried. Interestingly, the lag times of each of the blends accurately reflected the freshness/pitching methods of each package; the dreg starter was by far the quickest to start, with the energized Wyeast following soon after. The White Labs took about 24 hours to get going, and the BugFarm dragged behind considerably, only showing signs of activity after about 36 hours. Another interesting experiment would be to pitch multiple vials/packs of different production dates, to see how the lag time effects the final outcome.

2. Each of the yeast packages were designed to have a cell count suitable for pitching into 5 gallons of wort. I honestly don’t know how this will effect the final outcome, if one strain of yeast or bugs will dominate another in a way not intended by the manufacturer, etc. This is probably the most important caveat in this whole experiment, but again, given my limited space, I’ll take my chances with what I’ve got. It’ll still be fun either way.

This is probably obvious, but I’m REALLY excited to see how this goes! I’ll be making occasional updates with how this whole thing progresses over the coming months.



>Sour #4 (Flemish Red) Recipe and Progress

>Rodenbach is the beer that turned me on not only to Flemish-style sours, but sour beers in general. I’ve been wanting to do a Flemish sour for a long time, and after a vial (cube?) of East Coast Yeast‘s ECY02 Flemish Ale became available, I jumped on the chance.

Then I thought, why stop there?

I’ve heard of people making excellent Flemish Reds with Wyeast’s 3763 Roeselare Blend, And I wanted to compare the two side-by-side to see which I would use for future batches. I could have done my usual Small Batches, or split a 5 gallon batch into two 3 gallon carboys, but this time I decided on a different route. I try to maximize my mileage when it comes to sours; 2.5 gallons is perfect for experiments and the like, but if something is going to sit for 12-18 months, I’m simply going to want more volume. I had two 15 gallon kettles from my dad’s old brewing setup, and I could fit a mid-to-low gravity 10 gallon batch in my 10 gallon cooler, so I said F it, I’m gonna go for it!

My last post
is how said brewday went. In short, it kinda sucked.

But I did end up with 10 gallons of red wort! So I suppose this batch has been successful so far. We’ll see how the souring/aging part goes…

The recipe I used was very much inspired by the recipes in Jeff Sparrow’s excellent Wild Brews. It’s a bible of wild beer production, and I highly suggest it to anyone looking to learn more about sour/brett beers.

2011-014A/B Sour #4 (Flemish Red)

Brewed: 03/16/11

Racked to secondary: 03/23/11

Kegged/Bottled: eventually

Ready: even later than that

Batch Info


Batch Size: 10 Gallons

Extraction Efficiency: 75%

OG: 1.055

FG: dry!

IBU: 18

SRM: 15

Boil Length: 90 minutes

Grain Bill


German Pilsner Malt: 12lb (55.8%)

German Vienna Malt: 4lb (18.6%)

US Flaked Maize: 2lb (9.3%)

Belgian Special B: 2lb (9.3%)

US Flaked Wheat: 1lb 8oz (7.0%)

Hop Bill


German Perle (6.5%AA): 35g @ 90 minutes



Irish Moss: 1 tsp @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes

French Oak Cubes (Medium Toast): 2oz (In Fermenter)



75% Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water

25% RO Water



Fermenter A: East Coast Yeast ECY02 Flemish Ale

Fermenter B: Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Blend

Mash Schedule


Sacch Rest: 158F for 90 minutes

Fly Sparge

Fermentation Schedule


Pitch @ 68F, hold for 7 days

Rack onto 1oz oak cubes per carboy, let age until ready.

I had some pics from the brewday, but I destroyed them out of spite. Here’s a few from the racking day:

The two beers, just before racking:

The Roeselare is on the left, the East Coast Yeast on the right. Interestingly, the Roeselare batch racked brilliantly clear, while the ECY was much more turbid.

An ounce of tasty oak, waiting to be steamed:

I use a stove-top vegetable steamer to steam my cubes. It removes a bit of the tannin and sanitizes them a bit:

Racking into secondary:

Happy sours chugging along in the closet: