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Old 08-23-2013, 03:04 PM   #1
May 2007
Portland, OR
Posts: 247
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I brewed my first sour beer, a Flanders red in early July of 2012 so it has been aging about 14 months now. Of course I did what most first time flanders brewers have done and followed Jamil's advice of fermenting it with a clean ale yeast first before pitching the bugs from white labs belgian sour blend. I tasted it after about 6 months and not even a hint of sour or funk so I added some bottle dregs from monks cafe. I tasted it after 10 months and still no sour at all but it had gotten a hint of Brett funk. At this point I thought I should have been able to taste at least a slight tang so I took a gravity reading and it was down to 1.004. Since it was so low I had come to the conclusion that the brett had consumed all the residual sugars before the souring bugs could get to them. I decided that if all the long chain sugars were consumed it wasn't going to get sour without adding more so I added 8oz of maltodextrin to each carboy (it was a split 10 gallon batch). I tried it again at 12 months just to see if the maltodextrin had done anything and finally there was a hint of sour. I know your are supposed to limit oxygen by not opening it frequently but it is in a glass carboy so I figured I could try another taste last night. Wow, huge difference from the previous taste just a couple months ago, it's starting to get noticeably sour, maybe about 3/4 as sour as regular rodenbach and it tastes great even flat! At this rate I think it may be done in just a couple months or so. I have heard mention of 8 oz of maltodextrin over souring beers but I do have some young sour beer to blend it with if it does.

So my question is what do I do now that it is only a few months away. I want to add a hint of oak flavor before its done so should I add oak chips now? I have some used oak cubes and new oak cubes. I'm thinking that I should use the used ones since I only want a hint of oak? And how much should I add to each 5 gallon carboy? I'd really like to avoid having to transfer the beer to a tertiary because it is starting to get too much oak so I only want to add as much as necessary.

I was also thinking of pulling aside some of it and adding blackberries since we have an over abundance of free blackberries growing just about everywhere here in Oregon and they are in season right now. So would now be a good time to add the fruit since it will add some tartness as well and it may add enough sour to the beer that it may be ready as soon as they ferment out?

Anything else I haven't thought of that I should do or am I well on my way to my first sour? I think I will try and let one of the carboys get really sour so I can use it to make blends and have a more readily available supply of sour beer.

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Old 08-24-2013, 12:09 AM   #2
Aug 2012
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Clean primary and then white labs isn't going to get you a very tart beer, no matter what Jamil says. You can just drop the oak in. You'll probably want to boil the used stuff first. I'd boil the new stuff first, too, I don't think there should be much oak in Flanders style red.

Blackberries do a great job of souring a beer! 2 lbs per gallon is a good rule of thumb for fruit, but it might be a bit much, depending on your berries.
The only thing worse than dumping beer is serving beer you should have dumped.

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Old 08-24-2013, 12:23 AM   #3
Mar 2010
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Originally Posted by austinb View Post
Wow, huge difference from the previous taste just a couple months ago, it's starting to get noticeably sour, maybe about 3/4 as sour as regular rodenbach and it tastes great even flat!
A lot of Commercial sours are served flat straight from the barrel. A traditional Lambic is not carbonated (I know you are doing a Flanders).

Generally Sours are not oaked. They are fermented in used oak barrels, but they don't impart any oak flavor.

Oak if you want. I'd suggest the used oak so it doesn't get over-the-top. The bugs tend to hide out in the oak (some say it is food for the Brett. When you come to bottle the beer, toss the cubes into another beer to help with souring.

Sounds like you have a good sour coming along.

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