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Old 08-09-2011, 08:13 PM   #1
austinb
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Default planning to try several sour beer methods

I've been reading a lot about making sour beers lately because i want to start experimenting and brewing some. It seems there are many different beer souring techniques out there for different types of sour beer. I plan on trying a sour mash for making a lacto only berliner weiss so i will have something ready sooner to drink while i am waiting for my brett experiment to do its work.

There was some info i could not find. It seems as though there are a lot of blends of an older and younger beer when using brett. Do both of the beers going into the blend have brett working on them or do you blend a beer fermented with saccharomyces in with the brett? Also is this blend done at bottling or do you blend into a carboy and let it age longer?

Also i've heard that brett only beers are sometimes fermented fairly quickly just like a saccharomyces fermentation. Are bret only beers drinkable fairly quickly also or is it still neccesary to age them first. What about blending a sour mash beer and an all bret beer to get a good amount of both lactic and acetic acid in a relatively short time perdiod? I still plan on doing a batch of bret aged for a year or more with oak chips but it would be nice if there were some shortcuts to making beers with some brett character without having to wait so long. Thanks.



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Old 08-09-2011, 08:27 PM   #2
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an all brett beer can be consumed as quickly as a sacc beer - but it won't give you any sour (there's no lacto or acetic production with brett)

i'd be careful with the oak for a year - that's an awfully long time depending on the quantity of oak.

if you sour mash and boil, you can drink it pretty quickly as you'll kill all the lacto... for a few of my sours i have sour mashed then boiled and they're very sour - but i've also added pedio, etc. post boil so it isn't quick by any stretch - that being said, my second to next sour (next is an oud bruin) is going to be a sour mash "something" without any bugs added and brett finished - i figure that can be bottle ready in a couple of months no problem. maybe not authentic, but i'm trying different stuff.



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Old 08-09-2011, 08:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinb View Post
There was some info i could not find. It seems as though there are a lot of blends of an older and younger beer when using brett. Do both of the beers going into the blend have brett working on them or do you blend a beer fermented with saccharomyces in with the brett? Also is this blend done at bottling or do you blend into a carboy and let it age longer?
Yes...is probably the most accurate answer. It really depends on the style and your desired results. I have blended all brett-fermented beer with sacc-fermented beer. It went into the bottle together, which requires disabling brett before bottling so the brett won't eat the sugars left over by the sacc in the bottle. You can also blend beers where both were given a dosing of brett where one is older than the other. That's done with gueuze and other sours. Although you could blend them in a carboy for further aging I'm not sure what benefit you would gain from doing that.

Quote:
Also i've heard that brett only beers are sometimes fermented fairly quickly just like a saccharomyces fermentation. Are bret only beers drinkable fairly quickly also or is it still neccesary to age them first. What about blending a sour mash beer and an all bret beer to get a good amount of both lactic and acetic acid in a relatively short time perdiod? I still plan on doing a batch of bret aged for a year or more with oak chips but it would be nice if there were some shortcuts to making beers with some brett character without having to wait so long. Thanks.
Yeah, all brett beers will complete fermentation within 1-2 months. Some people have found all brett beers to be clean, like sacc-fermented beer, or have minimal brett character. Personally, the time I did it I got a lot of brett flavor. Way, way more than I thought I would. All brett beers need some acidity to get brett fermenting. That requires either a sour mash, using acid malt or adding acid. In my case I did a sour mash, boiled, then added brett and a small amount of white vinegar (which is distilled acetic acid and water). I overpitched and under oxygenated. Now brett will not produce much or any acetic acid when it is the primary fermenting yeast so if you want sourness you either need to sour it before fermentation (any of the options listed above) or afterwards with acid additions or pitching souring bacteria. It's not necessary to go heavy on the acidity to get brett going but I think the more you give it the more it will produce the typical brett flavors and will give you sort of a shortcut to producing a sour. I mixed a one gallon batch of brett-fermented straight pale malt beer, half sour mashed, with four gallons of sacc-fermented brown ale. Very little sourness but a lot of brett flavor.
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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So would a sour mash beer and an all brett blended possibly begin to reach the flavor characteristics of one pitched with roselare and aged except with less of the complexities and subtle flavors you get with aging it and the other bugs present in the roselare culture?

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Old 08-10-2011, 01:50 AM   #5
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i have never used roselare (it's super popular here locally, the guys at my LHBS have a solara project going now with roselare) so i can't speak to that (oldsock? apache? others?) but you can get "rip your face off" sour with a sour mash, no doubt - it's a matter of science at that point - the art of it is whatever you're going for or experimentation.

frankly, i'm not a fan of blended yeasts although i have a belgian sour mix in my fridge waiting for my oud bruin.

it may be blasphemy but i'm a fan of sour mash - you can absolutely control the amount of sour you want, it comes off clean and you can be freer with your ingredients and recipe as those will shine through (to add whatever complexity you want) which is why my second to next brew is likely a quick sour using a sour mash and a brett secondary (quick being 3 months)

it isn't rocket science (rocket science is likely easier... lol) but the more you can control, the more you can control.

just don't confuse sours with brett beers... many sours have brett, but brett isn't needed for a sour.

as an aside, just start digging through this forum - i think HBT is an awesome forum for beer, but this particular forum (lambic/wild) is off the chart informative and it goes back years...

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Old 08-10-2011, 03:07 AM   #6
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I've never used roselare myself. I've used the Belgian lambic blend but my other brett uses come from cultures out of orval and a saison.

I am also a fan of sour mashing. I know it gets some bad press and some people say they can tell the difference between a pure lacto fermentation and a sour mash. I can't, so maybe my sour mashes are very clean or my palate sucks. You can sour mash and get very, very sour beer. With sacc, that's a problem because it won't ferment very sour wort but brett is tougher and will ferment in low pH.

A sour mash and brett fermentation will give you something like pitching a blend or dregs or whatever but it will definitely be very one-dimensional. It will also be sweeter and less dry because brett won't superattenuate on it's own. With sours, time is an ingredient in the recipe that you can't completely substitute. Over time, brett breaks down leftover starches and dextrins to dry out the beer. It puts together the byproducts of its fermentation and the sacc fermentation and bacterial fermentation (such as esters) together with alcohol to produce different flavors. In an all brett fermentation brett does a lot less of that work and definitely won't do much in one or two months.

I'm a believer the right combination of sour mashing and brett fermentation could produce some sour beer styles and get 80-90% the same quality as a properly aged sour but I think it requires a lot of experimenting with the degree of sour mashing and figuring out the right pitching rate and oxygenation to get the right sourness and brett flavors. It might be easier to pitch a blend and forget about it for 18 months.



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