using grapes in Lambic
I have a couple lambic and bruin bases fermenting in my cellar, which I want to use in a couple months to make fruit beers with. I'm interested in a few berries, but for the purpose of this post, let's focus on wine grapes.
1. how many pounds per gallon of lambic?
2. where do i buy them? Morebeer.com has 50lb for $90-200. I want to make only 3-5 gallons, though - can I buy in smaller quantities somewhere?
3. what variety of grapes? I want to use red grapes.
4. mix with bruin or lambic? Or both?
According to the table in Raj B Apte's article, it looks like grapes are similar to cherries in acidity and sweetness. So should I use the recommendations for cherries or are there differences I am not privy to?
1. I did 1 lb of Cabernet grapes per gallon in a Lambic and it wasn't enough, 2 lbs/gal in a big dark saison was just about right.
2. I got a bucket on special from Midwest. See if you can get a bunch of friends interested. In the fall you might be able to find smaller quantities at a local farmers market, or someone who sells grapes to home winemakers (especially since you are in CA).
3. You'll get the flavor of the grapes, so any variety you like. Alternatively you can blend finished wine into the beer, which I've done with good results.
4. Your choice, you can do part of each batch for a bit of variety.
Cherries have a more singular flavor, I would go lower in the same situations. Good luck
This article about Cantillon St. Lamvinus states that they mixed "a two-year-old lambic fermented with a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot grapes". The grape-to-lambic ratio seems to vary between 1.5-2 lb/gallon. That seems close to what you're recommending. But why should it be less quantity than cherries, if cherry flavor is more intense and the sugar content about the same?
It is a matter of personal taste. While 3F Gueuze is probably my favorite beer, for my tastes their Kriek is too heavy handed with the cherries. I like to taste more of the base beer in my sour beers, have the fruit as an accent rather than the star. The grape Lambics I’ve tried from Cantillon/3F have had a much subtler fruit character than their krieks. I’d start on the low end, you can always add more fruit if you want more flavor (alternatively over fruit a portion of the batch and then blend back the reserved beer to taste).
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