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Old 02-21-2012, 02:05 PM   #1
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Default Sour noob with questions

So one of my 2012 goals was to brew a sour. I realize I won't be drinking it until 2013, but I'd like to start building a pipeline of sours. I have a few questions before heading off to the LHBS.

1) What is the preferred fermentation vessel material? Are buckets ok? Should I really be looking at carboys? I have alot of carboys already, but I use them fairly regularly in my normal ales/lagers, so I'll be purchasing new anyway.

2) Is it generally accepted/preferred to just leave in the primary for the entire fermentation? No need for racking?

3) I have not gotten into brewing sours because I am too chicken $hit to get any kind of contamination in the rest of my beer. I am also very limited on space in my house (no basement, just a crawl space). My ales sit in a little closet under my staircase. Can sours and ales ferment side by side? Am I being too paranoid? Or do they need to be separated. I can do this, it's just more of a PITA type thing for me as it will be in the crawl space. I know, good so I am not worrying about the beer. Bad because it's a pain to get to to monitor.

4) Are the ferments as vigorous as an ale? Would these need to be setup with blow off tubes? If I'm putting these in an area that's a pain to get to, checking on the water status may not happen as often as if it were in my other closet. If not as vigorous, then an airlock should be fine.

5) I understand extra set of equipment for plastic pieces. I am planning to purchase: new auto siphon and tubing, already have a second thief, separate stoppers and airlocks, depending on answer to question #1, at a minimum a new bucket for bottling (though I won't need that for a while). What else am I missing? Separate hydrometer and sampling tube?

Thanks for any help you can shed on this. Looking to brew up a Flanders red this month, and then brew a different sour each month to get a pipeline going.

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Old 02-21-2012, 03:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfess1 View Post
So one of my 2012 goals was to brew a sour. I realize I won't be drinking it until 2013, but I'd like to start building a pipeline of sours. I have a few questions before heading off to the LHBS.

1) What is the preferred fermentation vessel material? Are buckets ok? Should I really be looking at carboys? I have alot of carboys already, but I use them fairly regularly in my normal ales/lagers, so I'll be purchasing new anyway.
It depends on what you want to brew. Buckets tend to be very oxygen porous so with more oxygen exposure the more acetic acid you will get. (Oxygen plus alcohol plus acetobacter = acetic acid.) Acetic character is often more desirable in flanders reds but not most other sour types. So if you're trying to brew lambic or oud bruin (or something along those styles), you probably want to avoid long aging in a bucket. However there are people who have successfully aged in buckets without producing beer that's too vinegary. You will probably be better going with a carboy or better bottle.

Quote:
2) Is it generally accepted/preferred to just leave in the primary for the entire fermentation? No need for racking?
Again, depends on the style. Leaving it in primary the whole time tends to produce more brett character as brett will munch on the dying yeast. If you rack off the cake you tend to get a less brett-y sour beer. I'm sure there are people who make good flanders reds and leave it on the cake but most people will rack off the cake to limit brett flavor.

Quote:
3) I have not gotten into brewing sours because I am too chicken $hit to get any kind of contamination in the rest of my beer. I am also very limited on space in my house (no basement, just a crawl space). My ales sit in a little closet under my staircase. Can sours and ales ferment side by side? Am I being too paranoid? Or do they need to be separated. I can do this, it's just more of a PITA type thing for me as it will be in the crawl space. I know, good so I am not worrying about the beer. Bad because it's a pain to get to to monitor.
I've never had a concern with cross contamination and my fermenters all sit in the same area. I wouldn't have blow off tubes running into the same water from sours and clean beers because I think it is possible for stuff to travel back up the tubes (especially if you are not using sanitizer in the blow off vessel).

Quote:
4) Are the ferments as vigorous as an ale? Would these need to be setup with blow off tubes? If I'm putting these in an area that's a pain to get to, checking on the water status may not happen as often as if it were in my other closet. If not as vigorous, then an airlock should be fine.
At first it's going to be the same as an ale fermentation because the initial fermentation is performed by an ale strain so consider the same process.

Quote:
) I understand extra set of equipment for plastic pieces. I am planning to purchase: new auto siphon and tubing, already have a second thief, separate stoppers and airlocks, depending on answer to question #1, at a minimum a new bucket for bottling (though I won't need that for a while). What else am I missing? Separate hydrometer and sampling tube?

Thanks for any help you can shed on this. Looking to brew up a Flanders red this month, and then brew a different sour each month to get a pipeline going.
I'll admit to not doing gravity readings on my sours (and often not on my other beers) but I would think you would be ok using the same hydrometer and sampling tube since neither goes into the fermenter.

You might want to read Wild Brews, if you haven't already, for some really good information about sour beers.
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info!

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