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-   -   My Red isn't sour (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f127/my-red-isnt-sour-185397/)

chase 07-07-2010 12:15 AM

My Red isn't sour
I don't drink a lot of sour beer, but I enjoy them occasionally. 12 months ago I made a Flanders Red following JZ's recipe to the T. I've left it for 12 months and took a sample this weekend. It has only a very slight sourness to it.

I used WLP001 for the primary fermentation, then racked it and added a fresh Roeselare Blend smack pack. It has a wonderful wine and funk aroma. There has been a thin pelicle on it for about 9 month. It is in a glass carboy with a rubber stopper and an airlock. I opted out of the oak dowl thing because I've read horror stories of it cracking the carboy, and not contributing much to the final beer.

I have no problem letting it sit longer. I'm very patient and my beer pipeline is full so I'm not rushing it.

I'm not a novice brewer, but this is my first and only sour beer to date. I've had enough commercial Flanders Reds to know that my beer is insufficiently sour, but seems to have a good funkiness to it.

Does anyone have any suggestions or comments?

yodalegomaster 07-07-2010 01:20 AM

Sorry, it's going to be good in 12 more months. I just brought a 24 month old flanders red to the NHC and it was finally drinkable. I had lines waiting for it.

ryane 07-07-2010 02:52 AM

problem with JZ's recipe is that he ferments out first with an ale yeast and then adds bugs, this isnt the best approach

you should add the bugs from the start or there isnt much left for them to get a foothold and grow to sizeable populations

I generally suggest to add maltodextrin on a first pitch of a sour blend, as this helps out the acidity and funk,

boil up a small amount of water and add 0.5# of maltodextrin, it probably wont hurt to add a bit of DME either, as I typically feed my sours as they age so I have a full batch (evaporation aka angels share) by doing this youll add some food that only bacteria can eat, and a bit of nutrients to grow, do this and wait till the gravity drops back down to the same or lower levels than it is now and I think youll be sufficiently happy

chase 07-07-2010 03:03 AM

I'm cool with that, although I was pretty excited to test it this last weekend. I had high hopes for it since I normally play around with published recipes, but this time I tried to do everything exactly as it says in the book (BCS). Only to be disappointed.

I think that is a good idea. I'll do that this weekend and try it again in 6mo. Any suggestions on how much DME to add? What about adding a new culture?

Bobby_M 07-07-2010 03:23 AM

It needs a bit more oxygen than a carboy lets in. You'll do better with a loose cover like foil.

chase 07-07-2010 12:33 PM


Originally Posted by Bobby_M (Post 2147533)
It needs a bit more oxygen than a carboy lets in. You'll do better with a loose cover like foil.

I was under the impression that excessive oxygen would produce a strong vinegar flavor. Am I wrong on this? How long do you recommend leaving the foil on?

Oldsock 07-07-2010 01:02 PM


Originally Posted by chase (Post 2147496)
What about adding a new culture?

Some bottle dregs from a good bottle or two of unpasteurized sour beer is always a nice addition.

I would advise against the loose top aluminum foil method, I had an airlock go dry on one of my first sour beers and it ended up with some nail polish flavors. This can happen very quickly I recently made a starter from the dregs of some old Russian River and Lost Abbey bottles and had a terrible acetic aroma after just a few days.

I've had fine luck with airlocks, the lactic acid bacteria are actually anaerobic (Brettanomyces likes oxygen and acetobacter needs it).

Bobby_M 07-07-2010 03:14 PM

Ok, so acetobacter needs O2 to make acetic acid which is a requirement of Flanders Red. BJCP: "The Flanders red is more acetic and the fruity flavors more reminiscent of a red wine than an Oud Bruin. Can have an apparent attenuation of up to 98%."
This is one reason why oak barrels make good aging tanks for the style; oxygen permeability (in addition to creating a substrate for the bugs). If the beer isn't sour enough after a year, you want more acetic acid and therefore need more O2. You might get Pedio to create some more lactic acid if you wait another 3-6 months but I think a couple weeks or a month with a loosely covered top will let acetobacter do its job to your liking. I mean you don't want malt vinegar or straight Lambic but you need SOME acetic in there.

JoMarky 07-07-2010 04:20 PM

A glass carboy with a silicone stopper lets in about as much oxygen as a small oak barrel, which is still many many times more oxygen than a the oak barrels used at large traditional breweries.

I'd go the dregs/malto-dextrin route.

Oldsock 07-07-2010 05:18 PM


Originally Posted by Bobby_M (Post 2147989)
I think a couple weeks or a month with a loosely covered top will let acetobacter do its job to your liking.

Have you tried this? How were your results? Acetic acid can get harsh quickly, and the esters Brett makes from it can be pretty unpleasant.

If you want to up the acetic acid I would age a small portion of the beer in a growler with cheesecloth rubberbanded over the neck (to keep the flies out). In a few months when it is nice and vinegary I would pasteurize it and blend it to taste into the base beer. Iím not a big fan of acetic acid above threshold levels, so I donít go out of my way to encourage it.

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