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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > First Flanders - The plan and questions
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:26 PM   #1
ndsgr
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Default First Flanders - The plan and questions

I just moved to Ohio (from the desert in CA and NV), where I have discovered this wonderful thing called a "basement". Ambient temps tend to stay around 68 in the summer. Not sure about winter yet, but I can always use a fermwrap if need be.

Since I'll be here for a few years, I decided now is the time to make some beers that need age. First up is a flanders red.

I've been doing some research on it (thanks again to The Mad Fermentationist website) and decided on the following:

Jamil's Flanders Red Recipe- (est OG 1.059 - a tad high, may tweak, IBU 11.6)
Grain:
5.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain
5.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain
0.80 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain
0.50 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain
0.50 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain
0.50 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)

1.0 oz Medium Toast French Oak Cubes in secondary (put in near boiling water for 15min first)

Mash @ 154 for 1 hour

Hops:
60 min 0.80 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min)

Yeast (both pitched concurrently):
WLP-550
Jolly Pumpkin bottle dregs

Spend about 3 weeks in primary located in temp controlled chest freezer (6.5 gal better bottle), then rack to oak in secondary to sit in ambient basement temps (5 gallon BB) for as long as necessary.

Here are my questions:
1) Should I do a small starter for the bottle dregs? I realize only the Sacc and Brett may grow up, not the bacteria so much. I'll have 2 bottles of Jolly Pumpkin (La Roja bottled 12-10-10 and Oro de Calabaza bottled 1-7-11). Both have been at room temp in the bottle shop until last night. I plan to leave them in the fridge for the next 2-3 weeks to settle. There have been suggestions of a 1.020 starter right in the bottle of dregs. That sounds really simple.
2) Do I use the Mr. Malty pitching rate for the WLP550?
3) Good primary temp for WLP550? I was thinking 65F for entire primary, since I really don't need it to fully attenuate. It's easy enough to raise it though.
4) Will the Caramunich provide good head retention or should I also throw some wheat in there?
5) What water? My house has an R.O. system so I was planning on buying Sparklets or something similar. I haven't tweaked water profiles before and am not all that comfortable with tweaking my water yet. I'll do some experimenting with shorter turn beers in the upcoming months, but I'm open to messing with R.O. if recommended.

Any critiques and responses are appreciated! If turns out nice, you all are invited over for a beer sometime late next year! I'm also planning on starting another sour in a couple months so it can start going. Oh, the possibilities now that I have a basement... *sniff*

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Old 07-19-2011, 06:16 PM   #2
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1) I don't think you need a starter for the dregs, but many people like to make them just to be sure they are active and don’t produce any weird flavors. If you do make it small and low gravity and don’t constantly aerate.

2) I would, you want a healthy primary fermentation (although under pitching slightly wouldn't be a big deal).

3) Sounds fine to me, a lot of the esters produced will be broken down by the Brett anyway.

4) Head retention with sours is tough, but many recipes for Flemish Reds call for wheat so it wouldn’t be out of place.

5) I'd think plain RO water would be too soft to get a good pH with a darkish beer, but a bit of chalk would fix that. In my opinion water adjustment isn't a big deal for sour beers (I'd never suggest copying their water profile).

Good luck, glad the blog helped send you in the right direction (the rest of your plan sounds spot on).

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Old 07-19-2011, 08:28 PM   #3
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Thank you again, Sir!

I did read the bit about water on your site, but I was assuming it meant I had somewhat neutral water. I have never had anything close to neutral. I went from hard (water spots still on wife's car, months later) at around 8 pH to R.O. It will take me some time to figure that part out. For this beer, I think I'll just find some "spring" water from the store.

I listened to Ron Jeffries from Jolly Pumpkin talk about putting unmalted wheat in his beers. I don't necessarily intend to clone La Roja or anything, but I'm thinking 0.5lbs of it. I did notice the nice lacing in La Roja. I don't want to reduce any of the "specialty" malts so I was going to reduce the 2 bases slightly, just to get back under 1.060.

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Old 07-19-2011, 09:53 PM   #4
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FWIW, I just made a Madrugada clone and used the dregs from the real thing. I stepped up a starter from 250mL to 1.5L. I then just pitched that as the only yeast. Fermentation has been really good for the last week and a half. I have yet to sample it, but it smells delicious. I guess I'm just saying that you can use those dregs if you don't want to bother with the 550. Then again, it might be good with both. I only did that because the CYBI podcast stated to use 550 for the Madrugada clone with a couple other yeasts OR the dregs. I went the easier route.

Sorry I didn't answer anything. And probably added more confusion.

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Old 07-20-2011, 02:46 AM   #5
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I have fermented using JP dregs as the only yeast, and it worked well. However, the beer was much more sour then the original. I did a starter with the dregs from a bottle of Bam Biere, and stepped it up to about 1.5L before cold crashing it and using that. I think for a flemish red, the sourness is very appropriate, so that may work better. I have made one red, very similar to your recipe above, with the bugs added at secondary, and it was not sour enough. Now I toss my bugs in up front, and that seems to make for a much more tart and funky beer. Depends what you want I guess. Also, with the 550, I have heard in different interviews the Ron Jeffries starts his yeast in the mid to high 60's, but then lets it ramp up into the mid 70's, so if your ambient is 68F, I think you would be fine with that yeast. Good luck!

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Old 07-20-2011, 04:45 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. I plan to play with the dregs a bit anyway. I would like to re-use the oak cubes from the red in future brews too. It's kind of cool to think I might have a house culture, granted totally stolen from someone else's house.

I did read from Oldsock's site that bugs in secondary don't produce as much, so I will be adding them with the WLP550. I will probably start the 550 at 65 and ramp up to 68 or 70. It's just a few button pushes, so easy enough. The long age will be ambient 68ish.

I just finished the CYBI on the Madrugada. Even though he didn't mean it that way, "good luck" was hilarious.

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Old 07-20-2011, 01:55 PM   #7
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't flanders supposed to have minimal carbonation, thereby not really needing head retention?

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Old 07-20-2011, 02:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elproducto View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't flanders supposed to have minimal carbonation, thereby not really needing head retention?
From BJCP:
"Average to good head retention"
"Low to medium carbonation"

I have only had about 3 different flanders reds, but all of them had at least a nice head when poured and it hung around for a while. I wouldn't really care about the BJCP style, but I like head.

...as if there aren't enough jokes every time the foam on top of beer is mentioned...
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:13 PM   #9
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Ok, thanks for the correction. I haven't actually made one, and have only tried a few Duchesse and Rodenbach Grand Cru.

I'm planning on making Jamil's Flanders with Roselare.. .can't wait.

I just brewed the Bam Biere clone from CYBI 2 days ago, and I'm doing the primary with Wyeast 1388 (It's what I had), and have a nice starter with JP dregs ready to pitch in secondary.

Good luck!

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Old 07-20-2011, 02:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elproducto View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't flanders supposed to have minimal carbonation, thereby not really needing head retention?
There are a couple that are minimally carbonated, like De Struise Earthmonk, but most of them have moderate carbonation (certainly not as strong as other sours like Gueuze or Berliner Weisse). Sour beers rarely have great head retention, not sure if it bugs eating through dextrins, pH screwing with the proteins, the lack of hops, or something else I haven't thought of.
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