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Old 08-06-2010, 06:09 PM   #1
Almighty
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Default Easy Way to Make Sour Beers (1 gal wort + dregs)

So I have a new idea when it comes to making sour beer. So here are the complaints that I often hear about making sour beer:
1) Don't want to mess up the rest of your equipment
2) You don't have enough space to store the beer
3) You don't want to buy more equipment just to store beer
4) It can take a long time and you might not end up with a good beer.

I think I have the answer, well at least for myself. With the exception of a few styles (Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, and pLambic) I have decided to brew small 1 gal batches. By doing this I can use 1 gal jugs that are pretty cheap ($5.50 with cider at Whole Foods or $8 at the Homebrew Store). I brew every 3 weeks so by then I can drink a gallon of cider (without too many of the bad consequences), the other alternative which I have tried is to take whatever yeast I'm using at that time and pitch some in the store cider.

Ok so you now you either think yeah I like doing small batches for the ability to test an idea OR you think they are a waste of time and expensive. For you that think the later here is how I appease you. Another problem with making sour beers is that they do not perform well when the IBUs are high. So my idea is after making my wort and bringing it to a boil, I will add my bittering hops. And within a specified time depending on the amount of IBUs you want I will run-off some wort into my gallon container. Yes I understand it is boiling, but I have preheated the container under hot water and have not had a problem. I then cool this wort in the sink.

For yeast I do not buy any commercial yeast because to me that is cost prohibitive but I will pitch the dregs from a sour beer. This is nice because I have a great excuse to buy great beer and I have a nice beer to drink as I finish making the rest of the base batch. I try to buy a beer that I want my beer to have similar results. Make sure that you cool the bottle and let it settle, the longer the better. Pour the beer slowly and stop with about an ounce left in the bottle. Swish this remaining beer up very well (~minute), then pitch into you gallon container.

For these beers, I am fermenting that at ambient temperature which is 68-75F. I am starting these out using an airlock, then pitch some boiled oak cubes (.2-.4oz) depending on the beer and the taste that I want. I can then bottle these beers with separate tubing and if I like the beer than I can make a full batch the following year and use the gallon container as a starter.


I will update with my results.

Kreik (Old Beersel Framboise dregs)

Sour Pale Common (Petrus dregs)

Black Jolly Sour (Jolly Pumkin Bam Noire dregs)



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Old 08-06-2010, 06:20 PM   #2
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Some good ideas here. I've been putting off sours for a long time because of the reasons you mention. Recent trip to Russian River in Cali has me considering getting started. Thanks for the tips.



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Old 08-06-2010, 08:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Almighty View Post
So I have a new idea when it comes to making sour beer. So here are the complaints that I often hear about making sour beer:
1) Don't want to mess up the rest of your equipment
2) You don't have enough space to store the beer
3) You don't want to buy more equipment just to store beer
4) It can take a long time and you might not end up with a good beer.
1) You bought separate equipment for bottling
2) You still need somewhere for the gallon fermenter to go
3) You bought separate fermenters
4) Your sours could still end up needing a long time to complete


While I can appreciate what you're going for, I guess I missed how this was any easier or innovative.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster View Post
1) You bought separate equipment for bottling
2) You still need somewhere for the gallon fermenter to go
3) You bought separate fermenters
4) Your sours could still end up needing a long time to complete


While I can appreciate what you're going for, I guess I missed how this was any easier or innovative.
I agree, also, you state not wanting to buy more fermentors as a problem for some, then you buy a bunch of 1gal jugs for 5$ each, you can buy a better bottle for ~25$, or the same as 5 of your jugs,

and you still can use the bottle dregs, you should supplement with at least one sour pack though to make sure you have all the necessary bugs, AND you can always reuse that slurry over and over again, and it will get more sour/funky over time making a better and better beer
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
1) You bought separate equipment for bottling
2) You still need somewhere for the gallon fermenter to go
3) You bought separate fermenters
4) Your sours could still end up needing a long time to complete
1)Ok, I guess I should have said minimal equipment. I had an old racking cane left since I switched to the autosiphon and I use old tubing that was on its way out for my clean beers. (So new stuff max $5)
2)Ok, again minimal space. Since sours don't really need to be temp controlled. I believe they actually develop better complexity with mild seasonal temperature changes. These gallon containers can be stored in more convenient spaces.
3)No, I bought apple cider/juice for my breakfast.
4)Yes, they will take the same amount of time but what was meant by that bullet is that you don't have to worry if they turn out poorly because they cost you very little.
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Old 08-26-2010, 07:28 PM   #6
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Made another one with my Belgian Single wort.
Belgian Single Sour (Allagash Confluence dregs)

I'm also curious if anyone else has tried similar methods and has any tips to share.

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Old 10-05-2010, 06:01 PM   #7
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Default Russian River Consecration dregs

I just pitched the dregs of 375 ml Consecration into the wort from my Belgian Golden Strong (1.060). Here is a link to a post with pictures that I will continue to update.
http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2010/10/dreg-series-russian-river-golden-sour.html

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Old 10-11-2010, 07:51 AM   #8
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I've been wanting to do this for a while now. Im glad your not as lazy as myself

I'll most likely pitch some dregs into my next couple of full batches, but I'm interested in hearing how these turn out.

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Old 10-11-2010, 03:27 PM   #9
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Not a lot to report yet.
I have taken a gravity sample of all the ones I posted and then tasted them.
All of them have fermented down pretty low (all below 1.010) with either the bottling yeast or the bit of sacc that is left. The Confluence dregs that are a mixed pitch, fermented like a beast and is down to 1.000. For this one and a few others they will need some feeding along the way.
As for the taste of them. They were all pretty clean and boring. The only one that had a touch of sour so far was the Jolly Pumpkin dregs.
I think in the future I might give them all a few days to sour with some lacto from some grains. Then boil, cool, and then add the dregs.
I'll probably taste again on each batch's 6 month mark.

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Old 10-14-2010, 05:47 PM   #10
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My sour beer process is similar in its simplicity. I do not pour boiling wort into a glass jug though.

I just pull a little under a gallon jug off of any appropriate batch that I want to sour or have extra wort or I will pull a gallon of a fermented batch. Then I either use dregs, cubes, or slurry from my other sours. I then put them in a dark corner and forget about them except to refill the airlock every couple months (actually, I sample them a lot too with the wine thief too).

I have a dedicated sour tap line and keg. Once one kicks, I just keg the next oldest one in the sour keg. Right now pipeline has enough for about 1-2 years before kegging. So far, all have been drinkable, and some quite good. Also have 2 5 gallon carboys going as "redneck" soleras. One light, one dark. If i have any extra wort or fermented beer from any batches, I just add it to the solera. I also pitch the dregs from every commercial sour beer I drink. There must be 50 different dregs in them.

Right now i have dry-hopped amarillo sour pale ale on tap. Not brewed to style, very little extra work, yet it is great beer.



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