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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Perpetual Sour Project
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:02 PM   #1
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Default Perpetual Sour Project

As a new homeowner, I'm excited about the prospect of long term aging of sour beer. I have no experience in producing sour beer, so I though I'd consult the HBT brain-trust for advice before proceeding with my plan.

I am not good at waiting for anything. I want to be able to produce good sour beers more quickly than 18 months. Blending appeals to me, because once I have some sour beer I can turn it into more sour beer by mixing with clean bear.

My plan is to get a sanke keg and one of these American Sanke Keg Fermenter Kit with Thermowell

I would fill the sanke with wort and pitch lots of bugs (still working out the best plan to get lots of souring/funk activity, thinking of using Wyeast 3763 - Roeselare Ale Blend). Then I would hide this thing from myself and forget about a year (if that sounds right). From that point on, I would be pulling 1-3 gallons out at a time, replacing them with freshly fermented beer. I would use that 1-3gallons to blend with other freshly fermented beer, oak, fruit, and perhaps acid blends to make all sorts of awesomeness. I have been reading a lot on these forums about these topics, but i'd like to hear what others thing about:

Whats the fastest way to bring the first full sanke to the land of sour and funk? How long are we talking?

How much sour would be required to blend to bring 5 gal to say Rodenbach's flagship sour level or maybe Monk's Cafe level?

I plan to mix reds and browns to and keep good records of what I mix to have a good idea of the current mix in the sanke, is that doable or should I focus on a single style?

Would oak spirals or cubes help? Maybe give the bugs a spot to hang out, like a barrel wall?

How often could I remove say 2.5 of the total 15 gallons and maintain a high level of sourness and funk?

Once I have blended the beers, do they need to age together? Will they develop more character quickly, or will that process be month and months?

Thanks for reading my enormous post to the end, all help and discussion is appreciated.

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Old 07-15-2012, 08:30 PM   #2
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Search "solera".

With Roeselare yeast blend, I've had some sour in 2 months. These sour beers were definitely finished by 6 months.

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Old 07-16-2012, 02:38 AM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. Like all of my good ideas, someone has already come up with it.

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Old 07-16-2012, 02:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ChiefHophead View Post
I am not good at waiting for anything. I want to be able to produce good sour beers more quickly than 18 months. Blending appeals to me, because once I have some sour beer I can turn it into more sour beer by mixing with clean bear.
Blending can be tricky by itself.

Quote:
My plan is to get a sanke keg and one of these American Sanke Keg Fermenter Kit with Thermowell

I would fill the sanke with wort and pitch lots of bugs (still working out the best plan to get lots of souring/funk activity, thinking of using Wyeast 3763 - Roeselare Ale Blend). Then I would hide this thing from myself and forget about a year (if that sounds right). From that point on, I would be pulling 1-3 gallons out at a time, replacing them with freshly fermented beer. I would use that 1-3gallons to blend with other freshly fermented beer, oak, fruit, and perhaps acid blends to make all sorts of awesomeness. I have been reading a lot on these forums about these topics, but i'd like to hear what others thing about:

Whats the fastest way to bring the first full sanke to the land of sour and funk? How long are we talking?
12-18 months is most likely your desired time before you touch it. Some people have beers get very sour in months but part of the aging process is flavor development, not just sourness. I would encourage you to use good ingredients and that includes time.

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How much sour would be required to blend to bring 5 gal to say Rodenbach's flagship sour level or maybe Monk's Cafe level?
Rodenbach is 1/3 sour to 2/3 clean beer. I'm not sure about Monk's Cafe but I think it's actually backsweetened. So to make something Rodenbach-like you would need about 1.75 gallons sour to 3.25 gallons clean.

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I plan to mix reds and browns to and keep good records of what I mix to have a good idea of the current mix in the sanke, is that doable or should I focus on a single style?
You probably want to keep the same style together in the same fermenter. You could use a sour red or brown base to make blended reds or browns but I would keep putting the same sour recipe in the solera to keep it predictable. Petrus uses its aged pale as the base for it's oud bruin so it's not like what you sour will determine everything you can use it in.

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Would oak spirals or cubes help? Maybe give the bugs a spot to hang out, like a barrel wall?
Not necessary. You can, but you don't need to.

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How often could I remove say 2.5 of the total 15 gallons and maintain a high level of sourness and funk?
As long as you let it go a full year without touching it you could probably pull 2.5 gallon as quickly as every six months and still keep the average age, after a few years, around a year and a half. However, the more you pull the longer it need to sit to sour the new beer in line with the rest.

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Once I have blended the beers, do they need to age together? Will they develop more character quickly, or will that process be month and months?
It depends. If you blend in the sour and let it go then yes, it needs to age until it dries out, so another 6-12 months (or more). You can cold crash, fine and add campden to prevent it from getting more sour if you want to make more of a sweet-sour blend, like Rodenbach.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:09 AM   #5
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I just made a Berlinner Weisse where I used a two day sour mash with a starter made using Wyeast's Lacto blend. In all it took a little less than a month's time to have a sour beer kegged and ready to go!

It's not a Flanders Red or Oud Bruin, but it is a sour, and mighty tasty!

Might be something to think about while you wait for the Flanders to be ready...

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Old 07-16-2012, 03:54 AM   #6
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Awesome response ReverseApacheMaster! I really appreciate the info.

I'm all about making a few lacto based sours to tide me over, stblindtiger. I love the straight sour I've tasted in other sour mashes and I'm excited to try it for myself.

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Old 07-16-2012, 08:31 PM   #7
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Rodenbach is 1/3 sour to 2/3 clean beer.

This is dependent upon which Rodenbach you are referring to.

Regular Rodenbach is 75% new, 25% aged in oak for two years. Grand Cru is 1/3 young, 2/3 beer aged in oak for two years. Vintage is unblended, aged and my preferred Rodenbach.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:40 AM   #8
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I'm not sure about Monk's Cafe but I think it's actually backsweetened.
Monk's cafe is not back sweetened. I have grown the bugs up from a bottle and made a decent sour. To back-sweeten, I would expect it to be pasteurized.
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