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Old 02-23-2009, 08:35 PM   #1
EinGutesBier
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Default Experimental Sweet and Sour Ale Recipe

Some of you may have checked out my earlier thread asking about acidulated malt here:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/tips...d-malt-105071/

Anyway, based on that, and a previous hunch, I've whipped up a potential recipe I'm going to make this weekend. Maybe you folks can give me some input on it and help me hone what could either be a ridiculously bad idea or a deliciously good one.

Broken Bow Sweet and Sour Ale

8 lbs Pilsner malt
3 lbs 10L Munich malt
1 lbs Rye malt
1 lbs Flaked Rye
.5 lbs Acidulated malt
2 lbs Clear candi sugar

.5 oz Fuggles 60 mins
.5 oz Fuggles 45 mins
1 oz Styrian Goldings 30 mins
1 oz Styrian Goldings 15 mins

Wyeast Kolsch Yeast

Yield: 6 gals
Predicted SRM: 7
IBUs: 21
Potential ABV: 7.2%


Obviously, I'd adjust the amount of acidulated malt if necessary, but I'd like a balanced 50/50 sweet and sour taste achieved. This also doesn't cover the temps of fermentation, so I'm debating between a cooler or warmer fermentation since the Kolsch yeast can do both. Any input on this one?

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Old 02-23-2009, 09:34 PM   #2
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Aw, c'mon, it doesn't sound that bad, does it? I think it might turn out fine.

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Old 02-23-2009, 10:03 PM   #3
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I'd go with a warmer temp to get some more fruitiness which I would think would play well with the sweet and sour. Other than that I like the rye in there. Keep us posted on how it goes.

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Old 02-23-2009, 10:30 PM   #4
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Half a pound of acid malt will give you a subtle tang, but not really in-your-face sour. I think it will be tasty though.

If you are going for in-your-face sour (like a Flanders ale) I don't think you can get that just from acid malt. The problem is that if you used enough acid malt to finish with a truly sour beer, you would lower your pH so much that you would totally mess up the mash chemistry (enzymes can only convert starches within a fairly narrow pH range), and also mess up fermentation. Yeast don't do well in highly acidic conditions!

So if you want extreme sour, you really need to add this after primary fermentation is complete (either directly by adding acid, or pitching some souring bugs).

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Old 02-23-2009, 10:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hargreaves View Post
Half a pound of acid malt will give you a subtle tang, but not really in-your-face sour. I think it will be tasty though.

If you are going for in-your-face sour (like a Flanders ale) I don't think you can get that just from acid malt. The problem is that if you used enough acid malt to finish with a truly sour beer, you would lower your pH so much that you would totally mess up the mash chemistry (enzymes can only convert starches within a fairly narrow pH range), and also mess up fermentation. Yeast don't do well in highly acidic conditions!

So if you want extreme sour, you really need to add this after primary fermentation is complete (either directly by adding acid, or pitching some souring bugs).
Hey, thanks for the input, guys. I'd say the sourness I'm looking for is somewhere between the subtle tang 1/2 lb of acid malt provides and full on Flanders sourness. Do you think if I used 3/4 to 1 lb of acid malt, I'd possibly get that "medium" sourness without compromising the yeast or enzymatic action?

One idea I have is to brew the whole grain bill without the acid malt. Then, I'd steep the acid malt in the wort, as if I were doing a partial mash. The other idea I have is if there's some sort of "reverse buffer" to add that would move the pH away from the acidity I'd be creating while keeping the lactic sourness...What do you folks think? I'm guessing the partial mash technique might work best.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:05 PM   #6
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I would drop the hops down even more. Maybe just lose the goldings. I would definitely be into trying one of these.

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Old 02-23-2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by eschatz View Post
I would drop the hops down even more. Maybe just lose the goldings. I would definitely be into trying one of these.
Interesting idea. I guess I wanted some sweet, resiny, candy-like hops for this. Care to recommend an ideal hopping schedule from your point of view?

I guess I've never had a real Berliner Weisse, but something about the style seems to be a bit lacking or one-sided. If this doesn't kill the yeast off, it might just turn out to be an interesting brew I'll keep on hand consistently.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBier View Post
The other idea I have is if there's some sort of "reverse buffer" to add that would move the pH away from the acidity I'd be creating while keeping the lactic sourness...
I don't see how that would work. The sour taste is a direct result of low pH - you can't have one without the other!

I hate to be negative, but I suspect there is a reason why all the great sour beers only become sour after primary fermentation has finished. Acid malt is a great way to make small tweaks to your mash pH, and can be useful for adding a subtle tang to the final flavor, but I'm not convinced it's a good way to achieve a more noticeable lactic flavor. Of course I have never tried this (the most I used was a half pound of acid malt in a wit, which was delicious but quite subtle), so who knows; you might be on to a winner. But you would certainly be taking a risk if you decide to push this outside the envelope, and going about this in a very different way to the classic Belgian and German lactic brews. My gut feeling is there is probably a reason those beers are made the way they are: over the years brewers have tried most things at least once, and if huge amounts of acid malt were really easier than lactobacillus, most likely we would have heard about that before now!

I'm curious, is there any reason you don't want to just add some lactic acid at bottling time? That's widely documented as a good way and controllable way to add some tang (although the end flavor is not as subtle as you'd get from a lactobacillus fermentation).
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hargreaves View Post
I don't see how that would work. The sour taste is a direct result of low pH - you can't have one without the other!

I hate to be negative, but I suspect there is a reason why all the great sour beers only become sour after primary fermentation has finished. Acid malt is a great way to make small tweaks to your mash pH, and can be useful for adding a subtle tang to the final flavor, but I'm not convinced it's a good way to achieve a more noticeable lactic flavor. Of course I have never tried this (the most I used was a half pound of acid malt in a wit, which was delicious but quite subtle), so who knows; you might be on to a winner. But you would certainly be taking a risk if you decide to push this outside the envelope, and going about this in a very different way to the classic Belgian and German lactic brews. My gut feeling is there is probably a reason those beers are made the way they are: over the years brewers have tried most things at least once, and if huge amounts of acid malt were really easier than lactobacillus, most likely we would have heard about that before now!

I'm curious, is there any reason you don't want to just add some lactic acid at bottling time? That's widely documented as a good way and controllable way to add some tang (although the end flavor is not as subtle as you'd get from a lactobacillus fermentation).
You make some very good points. But I'm not discouraged quite yet.

Here's my question, though. It sounds like a couple of you, Shawn in particular, who used acid malt with some success. With the grain bill I've got, what would you say is the greatest amount of acid malt you'd think I can use without compromising the yeast (since I can just mash the acid malt in the wort, avoiding the enzyme problem)? Hopefully I'm not sounding like a broken record - I know there's a point at which you have to just bit the bullet and quit with the theorizing.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:05 AM   #10
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I really have no idea!

My wit uses a half pound of acid malt. That's the most I've ever used (I made a couple of other beers with a quarter pound). I've been considering increasing the wit to 3/4 lb, but haven't tried this yet.

A half pound of acid malt has a subtle flavor impact. It works in a wit because the acid tang blends with wheat, coriander and citrus flavors, which all reinforce each other. Without the spicing, I suspect the acid contribution would be even more subtle. But I'm just guessing as I have never tried that.

The logical part of my brain says that larger amounts of acid malt are probably not going to work too well. Wort normally starts with a pH around 5.2, but becomes more acidic as it ferments. A finished beer is usually somewhere around 4.5 (for comparison, wines range from 2.8 to 4.2). Yeast grow best in the pH range 4 to 6. They can survive very low pH (as low as 2) but all they are doing there is surviving: you won't get any yeast growth or fermentation in such an acidic environment.

So I just don't see how this is going to work. If you add enough acid to make your beer taste sour (aiming for, say, a pH of 3.5) you won't get good yeast growth. If you keep it in the range where the yeast will ferment well, you won't get anything more than a subtle sour flavor.

But as I say, I haven't tried this. In theory, this sounds to me like it won't work too well. But you can always prove me wrong by trying it and having it turn out great!

I still don't understand why you are determined to do this using just acid malt, though? If you want a sour beer, why not do this the normal way using a souring microorganism?

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