This was my first sour ever, but it turned out so well that I figured I'd show everyone how easy it really is. This is based off the Steve Piatz method in BYO from a while back. When I started this recipe, I started with BCS and modified it - as it turns out one of the highest ranking judges had come up with the same thing previously, so I stuck with it!
RECIPE IS FOR 10 GALLONS
but you'll want all of that as the years go by.
6 lb Briess Golden Light DME
6 lb Briess Wheat DME
8 oz Maltodextrin
4 oz. aged hops (I picked a pound up from freshhops.com ironically enough)
Wyeast Lambic Blend
Numerous bottle dregs, e.g. Cantillon, Avery Depuseluse, Jolly Pumpkin, etc
I put the 10 gallons in a large plastic food grade container (Vittles Vault with an airlock) for about a month at room temperature over the winter. I then transferred to two 5 gallon carboys and forgot about them for over a year. Bottled one of the carboys at 1.5 volumes of CO2
and it's been winning ever since.
November 2010 - brewed
December 2010 - transferred to secondary in glass
February 2012 - bottled one carboy
March 2012 - Best of Show at the Drunk Monk Challenge, best of ~850 beers
April 2012 - Champion of the Pint Comp: Gold in Sours & 3rd Best of Show
May 2012 - NHC First Round - Chicago: Blue Ribbon in Sours
June 2012 - Went to the Mini-BOS in Sours at the final round of the NHC - Judges main critque: "Drinks a bit young, re-enter next year. Please."
November 2012 - 2nd in Sours at the Land of the Muddy Waters
It's really not that hard to make a GREAT lambic, so give it a go!
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2012
Notes on the aging process and recent tastings.
- Brewed 10 gallons 11/10
- Began ferment in 10 gallon plastic container
- Transferred to two 5 gallon glass carboys one month later
- Bottled one carboy 2/12 - results were great. Only criticism was that it needed to be older.
- Tasted second carboy 11/12
- Aroma/flavor has shifted from a bright acidity to a more funky leather/sweaty aroma and flavor
- Color has darkened significantly from aging, light brown or copper
- Really, really getting amazing at this point
- Brewed 5 gallons
- Began ferment in 5 gallon glass carboy
- Never transferred or disturbed
- Tasted carboy 11/12
- Aroma was slightly tart - mostly lactic, no acetic
- Flavor was lifeless, some amount of tart, some funk
- Color is still very light, light amber, mostly clear
- Body was very thin - same gravity reading as the others, but with no interesting flavors/prickly acidity to help the mouthfeel
- Brewed June 2012 - 10 gallons
- Fermented exactly as the 2010 version, 10 gallon in plastic then split to 5 gallon carboys
- Tasted carboys 11/12
- Extremely bright acidity, nice mix of lactic/acetic
- Some background notes of funk
- Still very light in color - straw colored & brilliant
Based on yesterday's tastings, I will probably be blending the 2010 and 2012 and a 60/40 ratio for my gueuze and will definitely leave the 2011 out of the gueuze. I may transfer the 2011 to another carboy and add some maltodextrin to see what happens. I hope to also bottle some of the remaining 2010 for another straight lambic.
All that being said, I would like to propose a theory on why the 2011 is so boring and lifeless. I think it is my 10 gallon plastic fermenter that holds the key - and it is the only variable changed in the three trials. I think a small amount of O2 is important to achieve a wonderful lambic. So from now on, I will only brew these if my 10 gallon plastic fermenter is available.