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Old 07-04-2013, 10:11 PM   #1
tonyolympia
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Default Sour question from a beginner

I have only tasted one beer that contained brett, and that was Orval. I have never tasted a real sour.

However, I currently have a sour brown ale fermenting in secondary with ECY01, and a pale sour in primary, fermenting with a repitch of the brown ale's yeast and bugs. My question today deals with the pale sour, which started with a wort of 50/50 pils/wheat, 1.029 OG, and 10 IBU.

The pale sour has been in primary for 94 days, and from about day 14, the gravity has been stable at 1.006. No change the entire time. I last took a sample 30 days ago, and again today. Then and now, I would say that the flavor is only mildly tart. It's pretty nice, but it doesn't seem to be getting any more sour.

Here's my question, one I know has been asked before: how sour is a sour? I am prepared to let this pale sour ferment or condition for as long as necessary, but with gravity stable for almost three months, and the flavor pretty much constant, am I crazy for thinking about bottling? And if I do bottle, might the sourness and funk I've heard about develop in the bottle? Or is this mild tartness I'm seeing pretty much par for the course?

For what it's worth, ambient fermentation temps for this pale sour have been elevated, anywhere from 70-90 F. The beer is very clear, but it seems like there is wild yeast active in there, because after I take a sample, a thin pellicle quickly forms. The brown ale in secondary has a nice bubbly pellicle (though I haven't tasted that beer since it was racked).

I'm happy to answer any particular questions about recipe or process that might be relevant here. I'd appreciate any insights you have about what might be going on with this beer, and suggestions to help it along.

Thanks, and happy 4th!

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Old 07-05-2013, 07:46 PM   #2
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There is a pretty wide range of sourness. Some beers that are "sours" don't taste sour to me at all. Others are mouth puckeringly sour. I like them on the more extreme sour end than the other end. Cool brews you have going.

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Old 07-05-2013, 09:09 PM   #3
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3 months is not long for a sour. The bugs are just starting. At 1.006, you will probably not have much problem bottling, but it could get very lively in the bottle over time.

What happens when will depend a lot on the health and population of the various bugs and yeast. Normally in a blend, the sacc yeast will work on the simple sugars first, leaving very little for the rest. This results is slow progress of the brett and bugs. The Brett will slowly develop its population for about 8 to 12 months and will develop flavors for up to 18 months (and more). For the sour bugs, they take longer and can take 18 months to 2 years to reach maximum population and continue to work.

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Old 07-05-2013, 09:17 PM   #4
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how sour is a sour? - depends on what you want. Monk's Cafe, Rodenbach, Duchess isn't really sour. Well, it is, but I prefer more kick to it.


I am prepared to let this pale sour ferment or condition for as long as necessary, but with gravity stable for almost three months, and the flavor pretty much constant, am I crazy for thinking about bottling? And if I do bottle, might the sourness and funk I've heard about develop in the bottle? Or is this mild tartness I'm seeing pretty much par for the course?

First, I would say 94 days is just too soon. And, since you have two sours going anyway, let it ride 5-6 more months and then taste it again.

My Flanders was non-descript at 6 months. We bottled at 18+ months and it's pretty baller right now after a month in the bottle.

Seems some bugs just take longer to get revved up. Plus the longer you take it, the more time you give for the flavor to develop.

Also, 1.029 seems low. By your numbers that's only a 3% beer. Is that right?

I might not be the best person to answer these but they don't seem to technical. More a matter of taste questions.
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for your help, everyone. You'll be proud of me--I'm drinking a bottle of Rodenbach classic right now. Wow, it's delicious. My pale sour isn't quite to the level of sourness I'm tasting in this Rodenbach, but it's not too far off, either. I'll wait at least another few months before tasting again.

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Old 07-06-2013, 01:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tugbucket
Also, 1.029 seems low. By your numbers that's only a 3% beer. Is that right?
Yep, that's what I was going for. Something light and quaffable like a Berliner Weisse, but with the flavor that the crazy mix of yeast and bacteria in ECY01 would produce. I'm excited to see just that will be.
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:38 AM   #7
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I let my sours sit on primary for 6 months to a year, then keg for another year. You probably safe to bottle, but it might condition/sour better in bulk. Some of mine come out pucker your ass sour and I love it. If they are two sour, you can always blend, the advantage of kegging.

Btw 1.029 is low, shoot for 1.040 next time and add .5 of maltodextine, reg yeast cannot ferment it, but Brett can.

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