I started brewing again this winter after a multi-year hiatus and now that it´s too hot to lager, I´m prepping for my first Belgians.
My wife likes Lindeman´s Pomme, as well as ciders. Generally she doesn´t like things as dead sweet as Lindeman´s, so rather than try and clone it, my attempt is to make a mildly sour/mildly sweet lambic (relative to the world of lambic of course, which can be wicked sour and bone dry) in hopes she and I can both enjoy it.
My plan is:
3lbs light malt syrup
2 lbs wheat DME
1 lbs cara-pils (to give the bugs some complex sugars to eat through the summer after the yeasts eat the simpler sugars)
2 oz. stale leaf Vanguard hops (low abu, and a fairly sweet profile, so even if the toaster oven and storing in paper bag doesn´t age them sufficiently, there won´t be enough hops profile to distract from the other things going on in the beer)
Danstar Nottingham Yeast
Wyeast 3728 -- Lambic Blend
apple juice for bottling
My idea is that I´ll brew a ¨normal¨ ale, though without chilling the wort, but rather letting it cool on its own overnight before pitching the Nottingham yeast. After 4-5 days and the brew settles down a bit, more or less when I´d go to 2dary with a ¨normal¨ brew, I´ll pitch the Wyeast. From what I´ve read, the later in the fermentation process the culture containing the Brett is pitched, the less the Brett character tends to dominate. As I´m brewing this primarily for my wife, I don´t want it being ¨too weird.¨ However, at the same time, I want something more complex and not as dead sweet as the Lindeman´s.
I´m planning on brewing 5 gal +/- and putting in a 6 gal plastic carboy. I´m going to ferment in my basement, which stays relatively cool even in summer. I expect I´ll boil and pitch in about three weeks, when basement temps will be around 60F, and it will rise to maybe 70 through the summer. At some point, I´ll add the apples into the headroom of the six gallon carboy (I´m not sure exactly when I want to do that -- see questions below). Then, when I´m ready to bottle, I´ll use a pasteurized apple juice in lieu of (or perhaps to mix with) the priming sugar.
OK -- all that said, I have a few questions for the floor:
1) does this sound like a reasonable plan to get to a mildly sweet, mildly sour pomme lambic?
2) should I crush the apples? skin them? I´d love to use locally (western PA) grown apples, but are there any species I should look for or especially avoid? Is there such a thing as too many apples?
3) I´m a bit confused about adding the fruit -- should I add before the pellicle develops?
4) Is there a target acidity I´m looking for to have residual sweetness, but still develop carbonation in the bottle? (I guess what I want to do is have enough yeast alive in the bottle that I get carbonation, but not too much that the final product is dry, or worse, eats enough sugar and creates enough CO2 to start blowing up bottles.)
I will be keeping notes and reporting back what my experiments yield with this brew. Hopefully it will be close enough, but not as sweet, as Lindeman´s that my wife will like it, and it will be close enough to a true Flandish lambic that I´ll enjoy it, too.