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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Do all Lambics/Sours need to age for >1 year?

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Old 05-16-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
TVarmy
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Default Do all Lambics/Sours need to age for >1 year?

I'm a relatively new brewer (about 4 months now) who just went all grain, and I just tried a lambic from the liquor store and really liked it. Yes, it was Lindeman's, but that was all they had and I didn't know it was controversial here. However, I imagine I would also like a dry, non-backsweetened lambic as well. The only issue I see is time.

My family planning on moving in a year or so, and I don't foresee bringing a lot of beer with me that needs to age. As a result, I'm holding off on making any beers or wines that need to age, since it's heavy (and difficult through many services) to ship. (Feel free to infer that you can probably mooch some free homebrews from me in a year)

Do all sour ales need a long time to condition? Or is it just the most popular styles that do?

Also, I notice a lot of people here say they are making 15 gallon batches. Is that just because of the size of oak barrels, or is there something about 15 gallons that is better suited to lambics? I can only see making a 5 gallon batch with my current setup.

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Old 05-16-2010, 07:48 PM   #2
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Default Yes all lambics need to age for a couple of years to sour

I brew 10 gallon batches, it's not much more work to brew in concentrate, like you do with extract, to make 15 gallons. I also use single container 15.5 gallon plastic fermentors. What I do is brew a couple of times a year just for the sours, and build them up year after year. There are a couple of styles of beers that are like lambics, but not aged their called FARO and "beer de MARS" beers. Faro is a immature Iambic that is sweetened and served very young, but it's not very complex. Home brewing lambics is time and space consuming hobby that not many people will respect. Except the us lovers of the Sour beer.

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Old 05-16-2010, 08:42 PM   #3
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A timely question. I'm also thinking about jumping into the sour scene, but the 1+ year aging is quite disheartening. I want my sour beer now, dangit! I'm aiming more for sour browns like new belgium's la foile, or even a sour pale like petrus. What happens if you bottle something after say, 2-3 months in a carboy? Will I get bottle bombs and a wasted batch, or just beer that doesn't taste sour/funky enough?

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Old 05-16-2010, 08:49 PM   #4
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Berliner Weisse beers are ready to drink very quickly and don't really require aging. All other sours that I know of do.

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Old 05-17-2010, 02:28 AM   #5
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"Lambics" definitely need more than a year. Brewing 10 or more gallons twice a year and blending each year from there on out is an excellent way to start your wild brewery.

However if you want to funk out a standard belgian beer and get a nice sour note you don't always have to wait a year. I've added vials of brett brux to base beers and augmented with dregs from american sours and had somewhat sharp acidic funk beer in less than 7 months. These are usually initiated in the warmer summer months. Once you have the beer in long-term storage you can keep it at cellar temp for at least 3 years.

A word of caution - once you've achieved your desired level of funk and it tastes good out of the carboy and you then bottle or keg it with priming sugar...make sure you wait at least a month before tapping the keg or opening a bottle. I've found that the bugs will kick up into a "tertiary" evolution that can lead to an initial sickness that will produce flavors unlike what you tasted in the carboy. The beer will eventually clean up though. If you have patience you will be rewarded with an excellent wild brew.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:43 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice and recommendations- I'll be looking up some Berliner Weisse recipes to sate my sour cravings till I can brew something else.

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Old 05-17-2010, 02:29 PM   #7
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You can get them sour in a few months with a combo of sour mashing and lambic blend in the primary but I don't think it will taste good for at least 6-9 months. It's late into the second year where they start getting good. Producing sour beers is more like a decade long commitment that is realized in about the 3rd year but you just can't stop making them. They are in the same category as big barley wines.

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Old 05-27-2010, 11:37 PM   #8
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No love for full wort souring? I intend to try that this year.

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Old 06-20-2010, 02:11 AM   #9
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It's been a while since you posted but I had a minute to suggest:
Do you have a keg system? Maybe it's time to start? A keg only costs 20 bucks, used, maybe 30. Dedicate one or two and have fun!

If you're not a purist, you can start a sour beer and add a teaspoon of 88% lactic acid, and from there just keep adding freshly fermented beer to the keg. Or fruit or mead or whatever. Just don't let it run too low! Try to get some sour beer concentrated, left over.

I like this technique, personally, I don't nurture any acidic acid: the co2 and my obsession with cleanliness seems to have made sure of that. Occasionally I might take a bit of home-made vinegar and add it to a pitcher, but not often.

Anyway, I am like you: I don't want to wait. So... blending has become a joy and an art. That way it's always on tap.

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Old 06-26-2010, 03:39 AM   #10
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I agree with Simcoe for lambics only; they require at least a year.

A Berliner Wiesse, you can get by with a few months.

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