It's basically an apple lambic that's been pasturized and backsweetened. Real lambic are much more sour and dry.
Make a nice starchy mash of 60% Malted Barley 40% Flaked Wheat. Boil with a ton of 3 year old hops. Ferment with a neutral ale yeast, belgian if you wish. When done, add as many apples as you can and Lambic Blend culture. Forget about it for a year. Bottle.
I would take a different tact. I would just brew a straight lambic, and bottle it after a year when it is nice and sour. Pour the lambic into a glass and add apple juice concentrate to taste. This is the only reliable way at home to get the sweetness than the Lindemanns fruit Lambics have without having to deal with pasteurization. If you add the apples to the fermenter the beer will be very dry/tart (not that there is anything wrong with that).
I started brewing again this winter after a multi-year hiatus and now that it´s too hot to lager, I´m prepping for my first Belgians.
My wife likes Lindeman´s Pomme, as well as ciders. Generally she doesn´t like things as dead sweet as Lindeman´s, so rather than try and clone it, my attempt is to make a mildly sour/mildly sweet lambic (relative to the world of lambic of course, which can be wicked sour and bone dry) in hopes she and I can both enjoy it.
My plan is:
3lbs light malt syrup
2 lbs wheat DME
1 lbs cara-pils (to give the bugs some complex sugars to eat through the summer after the yeasts eat the simpler sugars)
2 oz. stale leaf Vanguard hops (low abu, and a fairly sweet profile, so even if the toaster oven and storing in paper bag doesn´t age them sufficiently, there won´t be enough hops profile to distract from the other things going on in the beer)
Danstar Nottingham Yeast
Wyeast 3728 -- Lambic Blend
apple juice for bottling
My idea is that I´ll brew a ¨normal¨ ale, though without chilling the wort, but rather letting it cool on its own overnight before pitching the Nottingham yeast. After 4-5 days and the brew settles down a bit, more or less when I´d go to 2dary with a ¨normal¨ brew, I´ll pitch the Wyeast. From what I´ve read, the later in the fermentation process the culture containing the Brett is pitched, the less the Brett character tends to dominate. As I´m brewing this primarily for my wife, I don´t want it being ¨too weird.¨ However, at the same time, I want something more complex and not as dead sweet as the Lindeman´s.
I´m planning on brewing 5 gal +/- and putting in a 6 gal plastic carboy. I´m going to ferment in my basement, which stays relatively cool even in summer. I expect I´ll boil and pitch in about three weeks, when basement temps will be around 60F, and it will rise to maybe 70 through the summer. At some point, I´ll add the apples into the headroom of the six gallon carboy (I´m not sure exactly when I want to do that -- see questions below). Then, when I´m ready to bottle, I´ll use a pasteurized apple juice in lieu of (or perhaps to mix with) the priming sugar.
OK -- all that said, I have a few questions for the floor:
1) does this sound like a reasonable plan to get to a mildly sweet, mildly sour pomme lambic?
2) should I crush the apples? skin them? I´d love to use locally (western PA) grown apples, but are there any species I should look for or especially avoid? Is there such a thing as too many apples?
3) I´m a bit confused about adding the fruit -- should I add before the pellicle develops?
4) Is there a target acidity I´m looking for to have residual sweetness, but still develop carbonation in the bottle? (I guess what I want to do is have enough yeast alive in the bottle that I get carbonation, but not too much that the final product is dry, or worse, eats enough sugar and creates enough CO2 to start blowing up bottles.)
I will be keeping notes and reporting back what my experiments yield with this brew. Hopefully it will be close enough, but not as sweet, as Lindeman´s that my wife will like it, and it will be close enough to a true Flandish lambic that I´ll enjoy it, too.
I read a book by this belgian brewer/scientist about lambics and he had some recipes for replicating a lambic at home. They all basically said to do a regular fermentation with a neutral ale yeast THEN add the bugs and fruit, and ferment in a barrel if possible. The wood is important for the flavor and it also gives the bugs a place to live. No, you can never add enough fruit. Your ingredients look fine. You are going to be leaving it alone for a year after you throw in the bugs and fruit so that will give it plenty of time for the funky flavors to develop.
They actually serve some of the really sour krieks with rock sugar and a mortar and pestle in Belgium, so maybe you could do that for the honeybuns if it turns out too sour for her.
I don´t have a wooden barrel, but I did order an oak boy to add to the 2dary. I´ll rack into the 2dary and add bugs, fruit, and wood then, and from there I guess just wait until the pellicle collapses.