So I have a new idea when it comes to making sour beer. So here are the complaints that I often hear about making sour beer:
1) Don't want to mess up the rest of your equipment
2) You don't have enough space to store the beer
3) You don't want to buy more equipment just to store beer
4) It can take a long time and you might not end up with a good beer.
I think I have the answer, well at least for myself. With the exception of a few styles (Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, and pLambic) I have decided to brew small 1 gal batches. By doing this I can use 1 gal jugs that are pretty cheap ($5.50 with cider at Whole Foods or $8 at the Homebrew Store). I brew every 3 weeks so by then I can drink a gallon of cider (without too many of the bad consequences), the other alternative which I have tried is to take whatever yeast I'm using at that time and pitch some in the store cider.
Ok so you now you either think yeah I like doing small batches for the ability to test an idea OR you think they are a waste of time and expensive. For you that think the later here is how I appease you. Another problem with making sour beers is that they do not perform well when the IBUs are high. So my idea is after making my wort and bringing it to a boil, I will add my bittering hops. And within a specified time depending on the amount of IBUs you want I will run-off some wort into my gallon container. Yes I understand it is boiling, but I have preheated the container under hot water and have not had a problem. I then cool this wort in the sink.
For yeast I do not buy any commercial yeast because to me that is cost prohibitive but I will pitch the dregs from a sour beer. This is nice because I have a great excuse to buy great beer and I have a nice beer to drink as I finish making the rest of the base batch. I try to buy a beer that I want my beer to have similar results. Make sure that you cool the bottle and let it settle, the longer the better. Pour the beer slowly and stop with about an ounce left in the bottle. Swish this remaining beer up very well (~minute), then pitch into you gallon container.
For these beers, I am fermenting that at ambient temperature which is 68-75F. I am starting these out using an airlock, then pitch some boiled oak cubes (.2-.4oz) depending on the beer and the taste that I want. I can then bottle these beers with separate tubing and if I like the beer than I can make a full batch the following year and use the gallon container as a starter.
I will update with my results.
Kreik (Old Beersel Framboise dregs)
Sour Pale Common (Petrus dregs)
Black Jolly Sour (Jolly Pumkin Bam Noire dregs)