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Old 12-28-2010, 06:02 PM   #1
phuzle
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Default Brewing with White Labs Sour Mix - a few (easy?) questions

I'll be making my first beer with brett and bugs this week. I decided to go with the WL sour mix (from their website "Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus."), I'll be using some acidulated malt, putting in some french oak chips for the bugs to live in and get oxygen from while it ages for a year, and I'll be adding some lactose and extra sugars when racking to secondary. Hopefully these are all good ideas...

When would it be recommended to rack this? I assume after about 3 weeks would be fine, but I don't know if I'll be leaving behind the brett and bugs before they get a chance to do their job. But I assume I want to rack before a pellicle forms, right?

If I want to save some of the bugs and the brett for making more sour/wild type beers, what would be the best way to do this? I've been washing yeast lately, but I assume that I'll get a lot of the sacch if I harvest from the primary, maybe with just a bit of Brett - anyone have any ideas for getting more brett than sacch? Would I want to wash from the secondary?

Should I just keep the oak chips to keep the bugs, and if so, how would I store them? Maybe make a low gravity wort, toss the bugs in, and toss that in the fridge?

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Old 12-28-2010, 06:22 PM   #2
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1 - dont rack the beer, itll help make a more sour, albeit funkier beer
2 - use some of the slurry from the beer after a couple months to start your next round, youll get enough of everything at that point

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Old 12-28-2010, 07:18 PM   #3
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Thanks ryane. In my mind, though, your first and second point are somewhat contradictory: if I don't rack the beer and let it age/sour for around a year, then I can't use the slurry after a couple months. Are you saying rack it after ~2 months and then use that slurry?

How about the oak? When to add, and should it be kept?

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:15 PM   #4
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If you want to brew another sour in a couple months I suggest taking a small portion of the previous cake without completely removing it, you can do this by putting your thumb over a racking cane and plunging it into the cake, then you can start a siphon like normal (if you have an auto) otherwise you can wait to start the siphon until you get into the cake

you wont need much to start fermentation quickly

as far as oak, it depends on what you want from it, to add flavor add it closer to bottling, as the flavor fades considerably with time, if its just for the bugs you can from the start, although I dont add oak unless i want the flavor and my bugs do just fine

I would suggest adding some dregs from JP beers to up the sourness a bit, also what is your grainbill? the biggest factor in a sour beer is the starting wort and how many long chain dextrins you have in the wort

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:42 PM   #5
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I really appreciate the resposes. My recipe is roughly 80% extract, 5% vienna, 4% cara vienna, 4% acidulated, 3% chocolate, 4% candy sugar, and a little lactose that I didn't calculate into those percentages because its just for the bugs. I don't know anything about long chain dextrins and whether I can get those from extract or not...

If I will eventually be kegging these beers, and I have plenty of extra kegs for long term aging, at what point would you recommend transferring from primary to the keg? I can certainly keep something in a carboy for a year, but if I am not sacrificing anything by doing some bulk of the time in a keg I'd prefer to do it that way.

The oak is just for the bugs, so I'll toss them in at the same time as the vial. What are JP beers?

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:50 PM   #6
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So, I have a couple questions

1 - why candy sugar?
2 - what do you want this beer to be like?
3 - how did you come up with the malt bill?

If your gonna keg I would keg whenever you think the beer tastes good, once its chilled and carb'd this will slow any further fermentation to a crawl and then I would drink it, long term aging in the keg would slowly pressurize the keg and could leave a ton of sediement/yeast in the bottom of the keg that would need to be purged, not necessarily a terribly hard thing to deal with though

As far as JP beers, I meant Jolly Pumpkin beers, in particular I like using their calabaza blanca, as it has the same bugs as the others, is lower alcohol, and doesnt seem to display the strong phenolics that their la roja does, a bottle will be pretty cheap ~$2 and they are pretty widely available

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:49 PM   #7
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As far as 1 and 3, I started with this recipe and made a few adjustments. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f72/pm-gilda-21224/

As for 2, I would like it to be sour. I am a fan of Russian River's sour beers, Wild One from Bells, I've had a few from Jolly Pumpkin and enjoyed them. Kind of ignorant when it comes to real Belgian sours. Mostly it is an experiment - I've made plenty of other beers over the years and now I want to try a sour and basically just see what happens.

I've heard the acidulated malt can help it to be sour, but mostly you need to age it a long time with the bugs and give them some oxygen and a little lactose to eat or keep feeding them other sugars when the yeast are done.

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:58 PM   #8
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I would suggest skipping the sugar, theres really no use for it in a sour

sugar usually is used to thin the body and up the alcohol, but in a sour the beers finish extremely low and upping the alcohol can slow the entire process of souring, so I would highly suggest skipping the sugar

acid malt wont do much to make the beer sour, especially in the amount listed in that recipe, you would need to use much much more for a real sour effect and at those levels it could be detrimental to the pH of the mash, as to be sour you want something in the low 3s

lactose, long chain dextrines, starches etc are what the pedio will feed on to sour your beer, something like lactose can be added although in my experiences i tend to favor using maltodextrin at about 8oz to a 5gal batch to help get the beer really sour

I would get several going, as in my opinion the only way to make a truly great sour is by blending, sometimes its too sour, too funky, and needs something to mellow it, or the other way around, so its good to have several batches around

if your kegging its possible to make something like rodenbach by brewing a very very sour base and then blending with a sweet brown beer in the keg when you serve

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Old 12-29-2010, 12:24 AM   #9
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I would love to have several around. That is kind of why I ask about doing the long term souring in kegs; I have 10 corny kegs (6 empty at the moment) but only 2 glass carboys and 1 brewing bucket. I wouldn't use the bucket for brett or bugs for fear of them burrowing into the plastic forever. Maybe I'll just make two sour beers for now in my glass carboys and use the plastic for non sour stuff, and if I need I'll buy another carboy.

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